The central government’s integrated food security scheme has been named as the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), under which free foodgrains are being given to more than 80 crore poor people from January 1.
The move also comes amid Opposition’s criticism over the government discontinuing free monthly distribution of 5 kilograms of foodgrains to poor people under a scheme that was also known as PMGKAY.
This scheme, which was launched in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, ended in December last year.
Last month, the government decided to subsume PMGKAY into two existing food subsidy schemes and consequently, the new integrated food security scheme came into force.
”The new scheme has been named as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY),” the food ministry said in a statement.
Keeping in view welfare of the beneficiaries and in order to maintain uniformity across the states, free foodgrains will be provided under the PMGKAY for the year 2023 to the poor beneficiaries as per the entitlement under the the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
Under the NFSA, the entitlement of foodgrains per person per month is 5 kg for priority households category, while 35 kg per family per month for Antodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) families.
Till December 2022, the NFSA beneficiaries were getting their foodgrains entitlement at a highly subsidised rate of Re 1, Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg for coarse cereals, wheat and rice, respectively. Now, they will get it for free this year.
According to the ministry, necessary steps have already been taken for smooth implementation of the PMGKAY in the field. The ministry and state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) officials are regularly interacting with state government officers for smooth roll out of the new scheme.
The central government will spend more than Rs 2 lakh crore in 2023 as food subsidy under the NFSA and other welfare schemes to remove the financial burden of the poor.