The Department of Food & Public Distribution (DFPD), Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & PD, has issued a rebuttal to a news report published in ‘The Wire’ titled “PM Garib Kalyan: 144 Million Ration Card Holders Not Provided Grain in May” by Shri Kabir Aggarwal today. The article claims that 144 million people in April and 64.4 Million ration card holders in May have not received foodgrains under PM-GKAY.
The Department has pointed out the lifting and distribution of 120 LMT of foodgrains is ongoing. The FCI and agencies have maintained supply chain very efficiently even during complete lockdown. So far, nearly 103 LMT food grains under PM-GKAY have been delivered to States/UTs which meant covering a total of 2060 million people over a three month cycle ie 680 million in a month. The balance population would get covered during distribution in June. FCI has transported 1.72 LMT foodgrain on an average per day in April and in May this is 1.29 LMT and in June so far it is 1.39 LMT per day.
On an average, the monthly lifting under regular NFSA is about 95% which means that there are nearly 6 Crore people who may be outside the State and can avail the facility of portability under One Nation One Ration Card, which is currently operational in 20 States/UTs. However, this depends on the state government. As far as Central government is concerned sufficient stocks have been made made available in all states.
11 States are distributing foodgrains in one-go for upto two or three months quota to beneficiaries to avoid multiple trips to Fair Price Shops. In some States due to ongoing distribution cycles for NFSA, the distribution under PM-GKAY scheme shall be done thereafter to manage the supply chain and ensure timely distribution when earlier stocks are consumed, while observing Social Distancing norms.
States have also been given foodgrains assistance of about 13 LMT catering to about 13 Crore persons through liberalised Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS) to cover the non-NFSA State ration card holders/NGOs during the months of April and May 2020.
In addition to this, free foodgrains distribution to nearly 8 Crore migrants is also being done under Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme and currently 10 Lakh migrants have been provided free foodgrains and the distribution is progressing to cover migrants, stranded migrants, migrants in transit and migrants in quarantine centres.
So far, about 74 Crore out of 80 Crore beneficiaries have obtained the benefit under PM-GKAY, while distribution process in some States is operational for the month of April and more beneficiaries may get covered.
While it is claimed that 200 million people are left out in April in the initial part of the article, the latter part of the article mentions that it is only about 64 million in April which is contradictory and highlights lack of understanding of complex and varying distribution system in various states.
For the month of May the distribution under PMGKAY has already touched 68 Crore people, while the article claims the figures of 65.5 Crore people, which is outdated. It means that the continuous distribution process has not been taken into account. It also implies that in coming days more people will get covered. DFPD is transparently putting data in public domain urging states to speed up and cover all entitled beneficiaries.
Coverage of people under NFSA (about 81.3 Crore) is based on statutory provisions and enumeration under 2011 Census. However, revision of coverage is linked to census of 2021 where numbers will be determined based on identified persons in each State/UT. However, states do run their own Ration Card Scheme to cover such population and today more than 6 crore State Ration Cards exist to cover over 25 crore additional population over and above NFSA.
As regards the distribution of Pulses under PMGKAY, NAFED, the agency responsible for its supply to the States and UTs, has clarified its role is limited to making the stock available at designated delivery locations given by State/UT governments. Once receipt of stock is acknowledged by the states/UTs, responsibility for further distribution lies with the state/UT machinery. State Governments are distributing the received pulses as per their distribution plans.
As of now, around 88% of the pulses have been dispatched to 36 states and UTs. Dispatch for three months requirement has been completed in 26 states. 77% stock has been received by the states.
Under Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme, 63% approx of Gram Whole has been dispatched to the states and 64% of total dispatch quantity has reportedly been received by the states. Dispatches to some of the consuming states were delayed for want of firm indent. Some states have changed the single delivery point to multiple locations whereas few states have revised their requirement. Dispatch plans were recalibration to accommodate such changes resulting in delay in dispatch.
The total number of beneficiaries under the PMGKAY scheme announced by the Union Finance Minster under the scheme is 80 crores. This translates into 19.55 crore households, which was reported by the States/UTs. Therefore, the total monthly quantity to be distributed under the scheme is about 1.95 Lakh MT of Preferred pulses as against 2.36 Lakhs reported in the article, the NAFED has clarified.
It is worth mentioning the Minister of CA, F&PD Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has twice reviewed the distribution of foodgrains under NFSA and PM-GKAY with Food Ministers of all States/UTs on 13.04.2020 and 22.05.2020. The Minister also urged all States/UTs for expeditious distribution to migrants under Atma Nirbhar Bharat during the time of need.
Secretary (F&PD) Shri Sudhanshu Pandey has also reviewed the distribution of foodgrains under NFSA and PM-GKAY in all States/UTs on three occasions during April and May 2020. Further, daily monitoring of distribution under all schemes is being done by the Department and figures/data is being shared transparently.