Context: The Prime Minister announced on Monday the extension till Diwali (November) of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.
- The scheme was implemented to provide free foodgrains to the households.
- The scheme aims to provide 5 kg of wheat or rice free of cost to around 80 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act.
- The scheme was announced only for the months of May and June as economic activity had begun to be disrupted with state governments imposing localised lockdowns to deal with the surge in Covid cases.
- The second wave had a devastating effect on the effect causing rising unemployment and declining income of people. Thus the extension of the scheme was necessary to address the crisis.
- The food-grains available in the central pool is considerably higher than the buffer stock norms. Hence fulfilling this additional allocation will not be a problem.
- The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana was first introduced in April last year when the central government had announced the imposition of a national lockdown.
- As the pandemic dragged on, both the duration as well as scope of the scheme were expanded subsequently.
- According to somes estimates, the fiscal costs stemming from the extension of this scheme till November (along with the change in the vaccination policy) are likely to be around 0.4 per cent of GDP.
- But despite such fiscal expenditure, the government should roll out the policy keeping in mind the adversaries faced by migrant workers, daily laborers and poor households.
Previous announcements on the scheme:
Announcements made by the Finance Minister on 26th March 2020 are mentioned below:
- To provide an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakhs per health worker affected by COVID-19.
- To provide free resources of 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for 80 crore poor people for the next three months under the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.
- 20 crore Women Jan Dhan account holders will be provided Rs 500 per month for the next three months.
- There will be an increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 per day to benefit 13.62 crore families.
- The Central Government has given orders to State Governments to use the Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund to provide relief to Construction Workers.
Salient Details of Scheme
- Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 in Government Hospitals and Health Care Centres
- Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers would be covered by a Special insurance Scheme.
- Any health professional, who while treating Covid-19 patients, meets with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme.
- All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of Centre as well as States would be covered under this scheme approximately 22 lakh health workers would be provided insurance cover to fight this pandemic.
- Food Grains
- The Government of India would not allow anybody, especially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of foodgrains due to disruption in the next three months.
- 80 crore individuals, i.e, roughly two-thirds of India’s population would be covered under this scheme.
Each one of them would be provided double of their current entitlement over next three months.
- This additionality would be free of cost.
- Benefit to farmers:
- The first instalment of Rs 2,000 due in 2020-21 will be front-loaded and paid in April 2020 itself under the PM KISAN Yojana.
- It would cover 8.7 crore farmers.
- Cash transfers Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana:
- A total of 20.40 crores PMJDY women account-holders would be given an ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for next three months.
- Wage-earners below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses having less than 100 workers are at risk of losing their employment.
- Under this package, the government proposes to pay 24 percent of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for the next three months.
- There are around 3 crore aged widows and people in Divyang category who are vulnerable due to economic disruption caused by COVID-19.
- Government will give them Rs 1,000 to tide over difficulties during the next three months.
- MNREGA wages would be increased by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April, 2020.
- Wage increase under MNREGA will provide an additional Rs 2,000 benefit annually to a worker.
- Self-Help groups
- Limit of collateral free lending would be increased from Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakhs.
- Organised sector
- Employees’ Provident Fund Regulations will be amended to include Pandemic as the reason to allow non-refundable advance of 75 percent of the amount or three months of the wages, whichever is lower, from their accounts.
- Families of four crore workers registered under EPF can take benefit of this window.
- Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Fund
- There are around 3.5 Crore registered workers in the Fund.
- State Governments will be given directions to utilise this fund to provide assistance and support to these workers to protect them against economic disruptions.
National Food Security Act
The NFSA converts into legal entitlements the existing food security programmes of the Government of India. The beneficiary AAY household is entitled to 35 Kg of food grains per month while each PHH person is entitled to 5 Kg of foodgrains per month under the National Food Security Act.
- The Act was signed into law on 12th September 2013 retroactive to 5th July 2013.
- The Act is in line with Goal Two of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations General Assembly.
- Goal 2 seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security.
- The aim is to ensure that everyone everywhere has enough good-quality food to lead a healthy life.
- Schemes such as the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), the Public Distribution System (PDS), and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) are included under the Act.
- The Act is being implemented by all the States and the Union Territories.
- Extension of the scheme is in line with the commitments of the GOI to allow anybody, especially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of food grains due to disruption during the next five months.
- Free distribution of grains will also ensure adequate availability of nutrition to all the poor individuals during these five months.