Aug 26, 2022

India’s Free Food Security Scheme

Guest post by Pallavi Mohan 

Recently, there was news that the Government might extend its free food security scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PM-GKAY) by 6 months before its expiry on September 30th, 2022. Let’s understand some important aspects of this scheme.

What is the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PM-GKAY)?

The government launched the PM-GKAY in March 2020 to help the poorest sections of society during the first Covid-19 lockdown. The scheme entitles the beneficiaries to 5kgs of grain (rice/wheat) per person per month and 1 kg of dal per family per month. This free ration is in addition to the subsidised food grains that families can get as part of the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act.

Initially, the scheme was to end in July 2020. However, it has since received several extensions; the last being a 6-month extension in March 2022, which will expire in September 2022. As per government reports, the government will have spent. Rs. 3.4 lakh crores on the scheme by then and it will spend another 90,000 crores if it is again extended for 6 months.

Who can be a beneficiary under the PM-GKAY scheme?

The eligibility conditions for beneficiaries under the scheme are:

  • families belonging to the Below Poverty Line – Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) [to be identified according to Central Government criteria] and Priority Households (PHH) [to be identified by State Governments/Union Territory Administrations] categories.
  • households headed by widows or terminally ill persons or disabled persons or persons aged 60 years or more with no assured means of subsistence or societal support.
  • widows or terminally ill persons or disabled persons or persons aged 60 years or more, or single women or single men with no family or societal support or assured means of subsistence.
  • all primitive tribal households.
  • landless agricultural labourers, marginal farmers, rural artisans/craftsmen such as potters, tanners, weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters, slum dwellers, and persons earning their livelihood daily in the informal sector like porters, coolies, rickshaw pullers, handcart pullers, fruit and flower sellers, snake charmers, rag pickers, cobblers, destitute and other similar categories in both rural and urban areas.
  • all eligible Below Poverty Line families of HIV-positive persons.

To date, the PM-GKAY scheme covers 80 crore beneficiaries.

How does the PM-GKAY scheme work?

The Department of Food and Public Distribution, under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, operates the scheme. People can avail the scheme from any ration shop in the country as per the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) plan. They can get their quota of subsidised ration under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) from any electronic point of sale device (ePoS)-enabled fair price shops of their choice in the country by using their existing ration cards with biometric authentication. This is especially useful for migrant labourers who have to move from one place to another based on their work opportunities.


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