Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, June 30, that his government would continue a current programme of providing free foodgrain till the country’s major festivals continue, up to November-end.
This, even as the country struggles with its economy amid the various phases of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), the Central government will spend Rs 90,000 crore to give 5 kg rice or 5 kg wheat every month to each of its 80 crore beneficiaries, up until November-end. He said people would also get 1 kg whole gram every month.
The PMGKAY scheme will have spent a total of Rs 1.5 lakh crore by the end of November to provide free food to people from weaker sections of society, he said.
Why the free foodgrain?
Modi said this is a continuation of PMGKAY, which has already been helping these 80 crore people from April to June.
He said the commencement of the monsoon season would mean farmers would need to get back to work, adding that the season of festivals in India — across religions and regions — would also start by July.
He noted that the extension was “keeping in mind that requirements [for work and celebration] as well as expenditure increase during this time [of agriculture and festivals].”
Modi also teased a “one nation, one ration card” scheme, which he said would immensely help people from the weaker sections of society.
Modi warns violators
Speaking about the Unlock 2.0 phase of the nationwide lockdown, Modi admonished those who were not obeying safety rules. He added that “irresponsible and negligent behaviour has been on the rise during Unlock 1.0.”
He said people were following instructions like washing hands regularly, wearing masks and maintaining social distance earlier.
However, “when more being more careful is necessary, rise of negligence is a cause of concern,” he said.
[This article is the the fifth in the Chronicler Project, a solo venture by a journalist-turned-teacher to show journalism students how news articles can be written from primary sources and a little legwork, which includes simply calling people up or emailing them.]