Mumbai: The combined efforts of the Central Government and the Government of Maharashtra is ensuring adequate food security for the poor people in the state. Food grain distribution is being carried out through over 52,000 fair price shops spread across the country. 43.51 lakh quintals of food grains have been distributed within the first fortnight of April amidst the lockdown period.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana, 5kg of food grain – rice in the case of Maharashtra – is being provided free of cost for three months for every beneficiary covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). In addition, 1 kg of pulses – either Tuar dal or Channa dal – per family is also being provided free of cost. This is part of the package Rs 1.72 lakh crore package announced by the Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman to help the poor facing loss of wages, to tide over the situation.
Food Corporation of India (FCI) has played a key role in ensuring food security during the lock down period by moving 3.74 million metric tonne food grain stocks using 1,335 train loads, which is more than double its normal average movement. FCI procures bulk of its rice from Punjab and Haryana and also from Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
In the light of Covid outbreak, the Maharashtra government has expanded the ambit of its PDS system and decided to provide grains to Orange ration card holders, who fall in the Above Poverty Line income bracket of Rs 10,000 – 1,00,000 p.a. People falling under this category will get food grains and pulses at subsidized rates. The state has sought 1.54 lakh metric tonnes of additional food grain allocation from the Centre. District administrations across Maharashtra have also been proactively enforcing social distancing, while carrying out food grain distribution.
Subsidized food grains for NGOs and Welfare Organizations
Considering the monumental work being undertaken by the NGOs and other welfare organisations in providing food to the poor and needy in these difficult times, Government of India has come up with the scheme to provide wheat at a subsidized rate of Rs 21/kg and rice at Rs.22/kg to them from any depot of FCI anywhere in the country without any upper limit on quantity.
Already organisations have started utilising this scheme in states like Maharashtra and Karnataka. It is expected that this will provide a vital lifeline in maintaining regular supply of food grains to NGOs and welfare organisations to run relief camps for vulnerable groups during the extended lock down period.