In a heartwarming move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an extension of the free food distribution scheme, PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojna (PMGKAY), which has been a lifeline for over 80 crore impoverished Indians. This initiative, initially introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, will now continue for another five years.
The PM’s Pledge to the Poor
During a rally in Durg, Chhattisgarh, Prime Minister Modi made a heartfelt promise, “I have decided that the BJP government will extend the scheme to provide free foodgrain to 80 crore poor for the next five years. This is not a political promise, this is Modi’s guarantee.”
This unexpected decision is set to cost Rs 2 lakh crore annually, and it comes as a surprising but welcome gesture as the government prepares for upcoming elections. It reaffirms the government’s commitment to the welfare of the underprivileged.
One Nation, One Ration Card
The Prime Minister emphasized the government’s focus on ensuring that every eligible citizen benefits from the world’s largest food security program. With the implementation of ‘One Nation One Ration Card,’ individuals entitled to 5 kg of free foodgrain can access it from any part of the country, no matter where they are from.
Modi reassured, “Now go anywhere in India, you will show the ration card of Chhattisgarh, Modi’s guarantee card will not let you go hungry in any corner of India.”
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A Glimpse Back: PMGKAY’s Origins
The PMGKAY initiative was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing 5 kg of extra free foodgrain every month to 80 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act.
This was in addition to the already highly subsidized rates of Rs 3 per kg for rice and Rs 2 per kg for wheat.
Originally intended for only three months, the program was extended six times, providing additional support for a total of 28 months.
In December last year, the government integrated PMGKAY with the National Food Security Act, making essential food grain completely free for the impoverished.
A Clear Path Forward
Previously approved for a single year (2023), the PM’s recent announcement provides certainty that the program will continue until 2028. Under PMGKAY, the government’s annual expenditure on food subsidy is estimated at Rs 2 lakh crore, with potential increases in the coming financial years.
This expenditure includes the minimum support price to farmers, storage, transportation, and other costs related to the management of rice and wheat.
Summary in Bullet Points
- PM Modi extended the PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojna (PMGKAY) for five more years.
- Over 80 crore impoverished citizens will continue to benefit from this initiative.
- The extension reaffirms the government’s commitment to the welfare of the underprivileged.
- ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ ensures that eligible citizens can access free food grain from anywhere in the country.
- PMGKAY was initially launched during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided extra free food grain.
- The program was extended several times and integrated into the National Food Security Act, making essential foodgrain completely free.
- The annual expenditure for PMGKAY is estimated at Rs 2 lakh crore, with potential increases in the future.
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