Free food grains for 81.35 cr beneficiaries for five years

Cabinet Decision: Centre to spend Rs. 11.80 lakh crore over 5 years on food subsidy under PMGKAY

GN Bureau | November 29, 2023


#PMGKAY   #food security   #nutrition   #welfare  
(GN Photo) picture for representative purpose only
(GN Photo) picture for representative purpose only

The central government will provide free food grains to about 81.35 crore beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for a period of five years with effect from January 1, 2024, the cabinet decided on Wednesday.

Terming it as a “historic decision”, an official statement said it places PMGKAY amongst the world’s biggest social welfare schemes, aimed at ensuring food and nutrition security for 81.35 crore persons, at an estimated  cost of Rs. 11.80 lakh crore over a five-year period.

Free food grains (rice, wheat and coarse grains/millets) under PMGKAY for five years will strengthen food security and mitigate any financial hardship of the poor and vulnerable sections of the population. It would provide nation-wide uniformity in delivery of food grains free of cost in all states/UTs through a network of over five lakh fair price shops under a common logo.

It will also enable ease of living, in terms of allowing beneficiaries to lift free of cost food-grains from any fair price shop in the country under the ONORC-One Nation One Ration Card- initiative. This initiative is of enormous benefit for migrants, facilitating both intra- and inter-state portability of entitlements as part of technology based reforms under Digital India. The free food grains will concurrently ensure uniform implementation of portability under ONORC across the country and will further strengthen this choice-based platform.

The approximate food subsidy for five years for distribution of food grains under PMGKAY will be to the tune of Rs. 11.80 lakh crore. Thus, the Centre will spend approx. Rs. 11.80 lakh crore during the period of next five years as food subsidy under PMGKAY, to provide free food grains to the targeted population.

The provision of free food grains under PMGKAY for five years reflects the long-term commitment and vision of prime minister Narendra Modi for addressing national food and nutrition security, the statement said. Provision of free food grains shall mitigate any financial hardship of the affected strata of society in a sustainable manner and ensure long term pricing strategy with zero cost to the beneficiaries which is vital for effective penetration of the public distribution system (PDS).

As an example, the economic cost of 35 kg rice for an Antyodaya family comes to Rs. 1371, while the cost of 35 kg wheat comes to Rs. 946, which is being borne by GoI under PMGKAY, and the food grains are provided completely free to the families. Thus, the monthly savings of ration card holders are significant, on account of the free food grains.

The government of India has a commitment to the people of the nation – a dignified life by ensuring them access to food and nutritional security through availability of adequate quantity of quality food grains. The Scheme will contribute to fulfilling of Government of India commitment to 81.35 crore persons covered under PMGKAY.  

Keeping in view welfare of the beneficiaries and in order to strengthen the food security in terms of accessibility, affordability and availability of food grains for the targeted population, and to maintain uniformity across the States, the decision has been taken to continue providing food grains, free of cost, under PMGKAY for five years.

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