Consultants Review Team
Union minister Anurag Thakur stated on Wednesday that the Center has decided to prolong the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKAY) to distribute free food grains to over 800 million Indians for another five years. Thakur stated at a cabinet briefing that the prolongation would cost the exchequer Rs 11.8 trillion. The extension will take effect on January 1, 2024. A decision in this regard was made at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, which was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The food ministry stated earlier this month that the PMGKAY plan would be extended for one year beginning January 1, 2024. The Centre agreed in December last year to merge the PMGKAY, which was established in 2020 to offer more food grains at no cost, with the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The NFSA covers up to 75% of the rural and 50% of the urban people in two categories: Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority families. While AAY households are eligible for 35 kg of foodgrains per family per month, priority households are entitled to 5 kilograms per person per month.
"The Central Government fully bears the food subsidy for procuring, allocating, transporting and delivering the foodgrains to the designated depot in the States with the help of the two food subsidy schemes, namely, Food Subsidy to FCI and Food Subsidy to Decentralised Procurement (DCP) States," the ministry had said at the time.
These two food subsidy schemes have been merged into PMGKAY in order to ensure the NFSA's effective and uniform execution and to improve the country's food security network. "Beginning January 1, 2023, free foodgrains will be distributed through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)." The additional expense of making food grains free for NFSA users is being paid by the Government of India, according to the statement.