Free Ration scheme covering 80 crore people extended

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme of giving free ration to 80 crore people will continue till November. The announcement comes at a time the country crosses 5.5 lakh corona cases.

“In our country, there are many activities in agriculture during and after rainy season. Other sectors do not have much activity. July also marks beginning of the festive season. This festive season increases necessities as well as expenditure. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja till November end,” he told the nation.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the scheme in March and was to end on June30.

Stressing that the nation’s top priority during the lockdown was to ensure that no one remained hungry, Modi said that the government had brought out the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana with this in mind for the poor. He said that over Rs 90,000 crore rupees will be spent on this extension of PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. “If we add expenditure of last three months on this scheme, then it comes to around 1.5 lakh crore rupees,” he said.

The Prime Minister stated 20 Crore poor households had received direct benefit transfers worth Rs. 31,000 Crore in the last three months when coronavirus had hit hard. “During this period, Rs. 18,000 crore was deposited in bank accounts of over nine Crore farmers. Simultaneously, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan was launched for employment of Shramiks in rural areas. The government is spending Rs 50,000 Crore on this,” Modi said.

Pointing out that every member of the family was given five kilogram wheat or rice, free of cost, he claimed “in a way, over 2.5 times the population of the United States, 12 times the population of the United Kingdom and double the population of the European Union was given free ration by our government.”

He also touched upon “One Nation, One Ration card”, which is being implemented. He said that the major beneficiaries of this will be those who go to other states in search of employment.

Stressing that Economic Activities will be further expanded, Modi said “we will work ceaselessly for Atmanirbhar Bharat. We all will be vocal for Local. With this pledge and commitment, the 130 crore people of this country will have to work together and move forward together.”

With respect to death rate, Modi said that the country was comparatively in a better position when compared to other countries. “Timely imposition of lockdown and other decisions have saved lakhs of lives. But we have also seen that since Unlock-One, there is increasing negligence in personal and social behaviour. Earlier, we were very careful with respect to wearing of masks, social distancing and washing of hands for 20 seconds. But today, when we need to be more careful, increasing negligence is a cause of worry,” he said.

Pointing out that rules were followed strictly during the Lockdown, he said that the governments, local bodies and the people should show similar alertness in the coming days also. “Especially, we need to focus more on containment zones. Those not following the rules will need to be stopped and cautioned. You must have seen in the news, Prime Minister of a country was fined Rs. 13,000 for not wearing a mask in public place. In India too, the local administration should work with the same enthusiasm. This is a drive to protect the lives of 130 crore countrymen. Be it a village pradhan or the Prime Minister, no one is above the law in India,” he stressed.

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