The Union government has no proposal to extend distribution of free ration via the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) beyond November 30 in view of recovery in the economy and good disposal of foodgrains in the open market under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) policy, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said on Friday, November 5. The PMGKAY was announced in March 2020 to ameliorate distress caused by COVID-19. Initially, the scheme was launched for the April-June 2020 period but later was further extended till November 30.
"Since the economy is also reviving and our OMSS (open market sale scheme) disposal of foodgrains has also been exceptionally good this year. So, there is no proposal to extend PMGKAY," Pandey told reporters during a press briefing. Under the PMGKAY, the government supplies free ration to 80 crore ration card holders identified under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The free ration is given over and above the subsidised grains distributed to them via ration shops. The government has been giving rice and wheat to bulk consumers under the OMSS policy to improve availability in the domestic market and check prices.
The Union government’s decision comes days after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s announcement that the distribution of free ration under the PMGKAY would be extended until March 2022, when the state is slated to go to polls for Assembly elections. He also announced that cooking oil and salt would be added to the ration package. "Under the PM Anna Yojana, free ration is being provided from May till November this year to 15 crore people in the state and 80 crore people in the country. This is valid only up till November, but Covid-19 has not subsided just yet, which is why we have decided that we will take the scheme up till Holi," he said.