NEW DELHI: The government expanded food security coverage to nearly eight crore migrants, who may not have ration cards, to get monthly 5kg free foodgrains for May and June.
Each such family would also be provided with 1kg of pulses (chana dal) in these two months even as the Centre picks up the entire tab of Rs 3,500 crore for this assistance, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday. Within hours of her announcement, Union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said he has instructed the FCI chairman to prepare to provide foodgrains to statesfor this purpose from Friday itself.
These migrants are currently not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the scheme that entitles nearly 82 crore beneficiaries to highly subsidised foodgrains. They are, however, entitled to free grain and pulses under the PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana. In a way, Sitharaman’s announcement brought all the poor under the free grain scheme till June.
Even as the FM placed the onus of identification of migrants on states, she said expeditious implementation of portability of ration cards under ‘One Nation One Card’ scheme will be of great help to migrants as the identified NFSA beneficiaries can get subsidised foodgrain from any fair price shop (FPS) across the country. In the next two months, nearly 8 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice will be distributed free to migrants besides the chana dal.
Paswan said there is no dearth of foodgrain as over 67 million tonnes of rice and wheat were available with Food Corporation of India and over 12.7 lakh tonnes of pulses, including 2.4 lakh tonnes of chana dal, with Nafed.
Earlier, the FM said portability of ration cards will be extended to 23 states by August, benefiting 67 crore, or 83%, of NFSA beneficiaries. The food ministry has set a March 2021 deadline to bring all states and UTs on this platform.