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Government Extends PMGKAY Scheme for 5 More Years, to Cost 11.8 Lakh Crore

In preparation for the upcoming general elections in April-May, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has announced a five-year extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) scheme. This initiative aims to provide 5 kilograms of free foodgrains per month to 81.35 crore poor citizens, incurring a cost of approximately ₹11.80 lakh crore for the exchequer.

Scheme Extension Details:

  • The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made the decision to extend PMGKAY in a meeting.
  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur revealed that the extension would be effective from January 1, 2024.
  • The scheme, initially introduced in 2020 as a pandemic relief measure, was last extended until December 31, 2023.
  • The decision to continue the scheme for five more years emphasizes the government’s commitment to the welfare of beneficiaries and enhancing food security.

Financial Implications:

  • The extension of PMGKAY is projected to cost the government around ₹11.8 lakh crore over the next five years.
  • The expenditure is aimed at ensuring accessibility, affordability, and availability of foodgrains for the targeted population.

Background and Previous Phases:

  • PMGKAY was originally launched in 2020 to address the challenges posed by the pandemic. It provided 5 kg of free foodgrains per beneficiary per month, in addition to the subsidized foodgrain under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
  • As of December 2022, PMGKAY was integrated into the NFSA, offering free ration for one year.

Significance of the Decision:

  • The government describes the extension as a historic decision, reflecting its long-term commitment to addressing national food and nutrition security.
  • The move is expected to alleviate financial hardships for the targeted population in a sustainable manner.

Distribution Mechanism:

  • Free foodgrains will be distributed through a network of over 5 lakh fair price shops, all operating under a common logo.
  • Beneficiaries can collect their entitled grains from any fair price shop in the country, aligning with the One Nation One Ration Card initiative.

Economic Impact and Ration Card Holder Benefits:

  • The economic cost of providing 35 kg of rice and wheat to Antyodaya families under PMGKAY is borne by the central government, resulting in significant monthly savings for ration cardholders.
  • This initiative ensures a long-term pricing strategy with zero cost to the beneficiaries, enhancing the effectiveness of the Public Distribution System.

Important Questions Related to Exams

Q: What is the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) scheme, and why has the government decided to extend it for another five years?

A: PMGKAY is a government initiative introduced in 2020 as a pandemic relief measure. It provides 5 kilograms of free foodgrains per month to 81.35 crore poor citizens in addition to the subsidized foodgrain under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The government has decided to extend the scheme for five more years to strengthen food security, ensure accessibility and affordability of foodgrains, and maintain uniformity across states.

Q: What is the financial implication of the five-year extension of PMGKAY?

A: The extension is projected to cost the government approximately ₹11.80 lakh crore over the next five years. This expenditure is aimed at supporting the welfare of beneficiaries and enhancing food security for the targeted population.

Q: How does the distribution mechanism of free foodgrains work under PMGKAY?

A: Free foodgrains will be distributed through a network of over 5 lakh fair price shops, all operating under a common logo. Beneficiaries can collect their entitled grains from any fair price shop in the country, aligning with the One Nation One Ration Card initiative.

Q: What is the background of PMGKAY, and how has it evolved over time?

A: PMGKAY was initially launched in 2020 as a response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. It provided additional free foodgrains to beneficiaries under the NFSA. As of December 2022, PMGKAY was integrated into the NFSA, offering free ration for one year.

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