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The Food Corporation of India's covid-relief plan

The Centre provided 48 lakh tonne of free food grains as a measure to offset the economic distress. But, did they reach the beneficiaries?

Since March 2020, the Food Corporation of India has issued a total of 1,062 lakh tonne of foodgrains under various government schemes. (Unsplash)

On Tuesday, an official statement was released stating Food Corporation of India (FCI) has supplied 48 lakh tonne of grains, in view of the economic distress caused by covid-19. These will be distributed for free to states and Union Territories under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). The time period is May-June 2021.

The Centre aims to provide 5 kg per person, per month, to approximately 79.39 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).

Nearly 80 lakh tonne of food grains have to be issued under PMGKAY. This initiative is in addition to the regular NFSA allocation which also includes 5 kg per person, per month.

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"The scheme of free distribution of food grains to the beneficiaries under PMGKAY has provided a big relief to the beneficiaries during the pandemic," an official statement said.

Till May 24, FCI supplied 48 lakh tonne of free foodgrains to all 36 states including Union Territories. Five states and Union Territories—Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Telangana—have lifted full allocation for May-June 2021. As many as 26 states and Union Territories have lifted 100 per cent of May allocation.

To ensure smooth supply of foodgrains in the country, FCI has planned the logistics in advance. Since March 2020, FCI has issued a total of 1,062 lakh tonne of foodgrains under various government schemes.

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As the second wave of covid-19 seized India in April this year, migrant population began moving out of cities like Delhi and Mumbai. In a story titled Centre resumes free food for poor scheme by Hindustan Times, an official said migrants should not panic and they can withdraw subsidised ration from any state under the ‘One nation, one ration card’ programme. The programme is operational in 32 states, but Delhi is not one of them.

It remains to be seen whether the food grains will receive the beneficiaries. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure even distribution. A story published in Mint last year said Government data for April and May 2020 indicated the distribution of additional food grains had been uneven across states, and risked food security at this time of crisis.

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