As much as 15.55 lakh metric tonnes of food grains has been lifted from Food Corporation of India depots by states/Union Territories for May, and over 1 lakh MT of this distributed to over 2 crore beneficiaries by 12 states/UTs, a senior official said on Monday.
Briefing media persons on the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana III, Union Food & Public Distribution Secretary, Sudhanshu Pandey, said that almost all states/UTs have indicated their action plan to complete the distribution of food grains under the scheme for May and June by the end of June.
Distribution of food grains is going as per schedule for May, he said, adding that the Centre will bear all expenditure of over Rs 26,000 crore on account of food subsidy and Central assistance to states/UTs on account of intrastate transportation etc.
He also said that during Covid-19 pandemic, 928.77 LMT of foodgrains — 363.89 LMT wheat and 564.88 LMT rice — had been issued from central pool for distribution from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
Emphasising the importance of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’, Pandey said that the ambitious plan of the department to introduce nation-wide portability of ration cards under the National Food Security Act, 2013, aims to empower all migrant beneficiaries to seamlessly access their NFSA foodgrains/benefits anywhere in the country.
Presently, this system is seamlessly enabled in 32 states/UTs, covering about 69 crore beneficiaries (86 per cent NFSA population) in these states/UTs.
The Secretary said that a total of more than 26.3 crore portability transactions (including intra-state transactions) have taken place since the inception of this scheme in August, 2019, out of which 18.3 crore portability transactions have been recorded during the Covid-19 period of April 2020-April 2021.
Given the scheme’s potential to ensure the access to NFSA foodgrains to migrants, the department has been continuously pursuing with states/UTs to implement the programme to its full potential, as well undertake publicity campaigns in various regional languages to raise awareness about it, especially about its national toll free number and mobile app, he added.
Pandey said that procurement in Rabi Marketing Season 2021-22 is going on smoothly, and as on Sunday, a total 337.95 LMT wheat has been procured, as compared to 248.021 LMT wheat on the same day last year, and 34.07 lakh farmers have been benefitted so far against 28.15 lakh last year.
He also said that Haryana and Punjab have switched from indirect payment of MSP to direct online transfers of benefit to farmers, so that the latter get their money without any delay, and of the total DBT payment of Rs 49,965 crore so far for wheat procurement, Rs 21,588 crore in Punjab and Rs 11,784 crore in Haryana has been transferred directly into farmers’ account.
In view of resurgence of Covid, with the objective to make wheat and rice stocks easily available in open market, the Centre has liberalised OMSS(D) policy for the year 2021-22, with sale of food grains under it starting in non-procuring states and 2,800 MT sold so far, he added.
About price rise of edible oils, Pandey said that it is being monitored closely by the government. Noting that some stocks were stuck at ports due to clearance tests by various agencies, he said that the problem is now addressed and soon stocks will be released in the market and this will show softening impact on oil prices.
To a question on the sugar subsidy, Pandey said that a detailed review with the sugar and ethanol industry has been going on.