The Centre on 24 April 2021 said it is gearing up for monthly distribution of additional 5 kg of foodgrains for free to 80 crore PDS beneficiaries from 1 May 2021, to help the poor tide over the economic hardship in the second wave of the pandemic. Additional grains will be given for two months under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) via ration shops or Public Distribution System.

What

  1. PMGKAY is being reintroduced amid requests from some state governments and after seeing the high level of success last year when a sudden lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
  2. Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said 80 lakh tonne of foodgrains will be distributed in the next two months that will cost the exchequer over Rs 26,000 crore.
  3. Pulses are not included under PMGKAY this time. Last year it was exceptional that pulses were given for free along with grains. The National Food Security Act (NFSA) scheme is all about cereals.
  4. The earlier lockdown imposed in 2020 was to prepare the country with resources to face the challenges of COVID-19.
  5. A study conducted by Dalbery commissioned by the Finance Ministry had shown a very high level of "satisfaction" among the beneficiaries with regard to distribution of foodgrains under PMGKAY during the COVID-19 crisis.
  6. Another study by Microsave Consulting in 88 districts across 18 states showed that average 94 per cent households have received free ration on a monthly basis during the crisis.
  7. The government had spent Rs 1.05 lakh crore on distribution of 30 million tonne of grains for free under PMGKAY during April-November 2020.