'States slow in implementing free food grains scheme'

States laggard in implementing free food grains scheme: Paswan

Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan. Credits: PTI Photo

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the free food grains for poor initiative till November, the Centre on Wednesday asked the state governments to implement the scheme proactively claiming that eight states and UTs were laggard in this regard.

Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan said states such as West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar had failed to distribute free food grains to 100% beneficiaries from April to June despite getting more than adequate stocks from the Centre.

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“I don’t understand what is the problem with the states in the distribution of food grains. We are treating the matter very seriously,” Paswan told reporters through a video link.

He said eight states and union territories had distributed less than 90% of food grains to beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) that was launched soon after the country went under lockdown to combat Covid-19 late March.

Under the PMGKAY nearly 81 crore poor in rural and urban areas were entitled to free 5kg wheat or rice per person and one kg pulses per household for three months – April, May and June – over and above their entitlements under the National Food Security Act. Modi extended the PMGKAY by another five months on Tuesday.

Paswan said West Bengal had distributed 59% of the food grains allocated to it for the three months of the scheme, Sikkim (68%), Madhya Pradesh (68%), Bihar (75%), Manipur (80%), Delhi (84%), Jharkhand (86%), Maharashtra (87%) and Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu (87%).

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Paswan said ironically some of the above states had written to the Centre to extend the PMGKAY by another three months.

The minister said the Centre had decided to give the whole chana against the demand for specific pulses from the states as milling operation of pulses were affected due to the lockdown.

He said the Centre had enough stocks of chana to meet the demand for the extended PMGKAY.

Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the distribution of free grains and pulses under the PMGKAY and Atma Nirbhar Scheme for migrant labourers would cost the exchequer Rs 1,48,938 crore

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