The Government will soon bring out a scheme to provide subsidised rations to homeless people and those who don’t have ration cards.
According to Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Food and Public Distribution, the Government is in the final stages of developing a system to capture the data of homeless and the destitute having no ration cards, so that the benefit of subsidised foodgrains can be extended to them also.
“That process is on, and the development of a system is in its final stages. Then it will be put to trial. The whole system is basically to capture all homeless, shelter-less destitute, who might not have ration cards,” Pandey said while addressing a virtual press conference on Thursday. “The State Governments may not have issued them the ration cards for reasons of either lack of identity or lack of home address. All these issues will be addressed,” Pandey said.
Another Food Ministry official said States have lifted 11.21 lakh tonne of foodgrains in the current 2021-22 fiscal year for distribution to people not covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA). State governments purchased over 11 lakh tonne of foodgrains under the Centre’s open market sale scheme (OMSS) in 2021-22.
Over and above the subsidised foodgrains, the Government during the pandemic is supplying free foodgrains to NFSA beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). This scheme has been extended multiple times and is now valid till March 2022. Since homeless and the destitute have no ration cards in the absence of an identity card or residential address, they are not covered either under National Food Security Act (NFSA) or Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).
Currently, the Government supplies highly subsidised foodgrains at Rs 1-3 per kg to over 81 crore people having ration cards through public distribution system (PDS) as part of the NFSA. Over and above the subsidised foodgrains, the Government during the pandemic is supplying free foodgrains to NFSA beneficiaries under PMGKAY.
The Food Secretary said the Government’s food subsidy is expected to be a little less than Rs 4 lakh crore in the financial year 2021-22 as against Rs 5.29 lakh crore in the previous fiscal. “We are expecting little less than Rs 4 lakh crore food subsidy this year,” Pandey said.
About Rs 2.25 lakh crore food subsidy is estimated for procurement and distribution of foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and an additional Rs 1.47 lakh crore has been incurred for implementing the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), he said.
During the 2020-21 fiscal, the Government food subsidy stood at Rs 5.29 lakh crore The secretary also said the year 2021 was “an extraordinary year” for many reasons as the Government made extraordinary efforts that were unprecedented in nature amid the pandemic circumstances.
On the edible oil prices, he said that prices have come down in the past few days.