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Centre to increase free grain amount for next 3 months

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday announced free distribution of five kilo of food grains per person and one kilo pulses per household, for next three months to over 80 crore ration card holders to ensure that no poor stays hungry during the COVID-19 lock down.

This will be over and above what the rationcard holders are getting at present under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) at a highly subsidised price of Rs 2/kg for wheat and Rs 3/kg for rice.

Announcing the relief measures in 36 hours since lockdown, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said free distribution of foodgrains and pulses will be provided under the Rs 1.7 lakh crore Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).

“Under PMGKY, 80 crore poor people, which comprise two thirds of our population, will get 5 kilo foodgrains per person for free for the next three months. This will be over and above the existing quota of 5 kg under the PDS,” Sitharaman said.

Besides, one kilo of pulses of regional preference will be provided to each poor household for free next three months, she said.

The rationcard holders can take the foodgrains and pulses from the Public Distribution System (PDS) in two installments, she added.

“This measure will ensure no gareeb (poor) remains hungry,” Sitharaman said.

According to official data, the government has total 58.49 million tonnes of foodgrains in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns so far. Out of which, rice is 30.97 million tonnes and wheat 27.52 million tonne.

The foodgrains stock is much higher than the required norm of maintaining a reserve of about 21 million tonnes as on April 1.

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