Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced the extension till November of a free foodgrain distribution scheme that has been catering to over 80 crore (800 million) poor Indians amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday, Modi said the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana was being extended in view of the upcoming season of Indian festivals during which citizens’ expenses are likely to increase.
The foodgrain scheme will cost the government an additional Rs 900 billion ($11.91 billion), taking the total spend on the same to Rs 1.5 trillion, Modi informed.
The PM also urged people to follow safety norms as cases had shot up sharply since relaxations began last month.
This was PM Modi's sixth address to the nation since the outbreak of the pandemic. In his last appearance on live TV he had announced a Rs 20 lakh-crore ($270 billion) financial package to boost the economy.
India’s coronavirus situation has worsened over the last couple of weeks with almost daily record spikes in cases. Currently, the country’s case tally stands at over 560,000 with almost 17,000 fatalities.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PM’s ADDRESS
Be careful: Modi urges people to be careful during the flu season and warns them not to let their guard down
India is stable: ‘In comparison to other countries across the globe, India is still in a stable situation in the battle against COVID-19.’
Good decisions: ‘Timely decisions and measures have played a great role.’
Don’t let your guard down: ‘Ever since Unlock 1 began, negligence in personal and social behaviour is also increasing’
All-round effort: ‘Be it central government, state governments or civil society, everyone has made an effort to ensure our poor brothers and sisters don’t go hungry in such a big country.’
Jan Dhan accounts: ‘In the last three months, Rs 31 thousand crore have been deposited directly into jan dhan accounts of 20 crore poor families. During this time, Rs 18 thousand crore have been deposited in the bank accounts of more than 9 crore farmers.’
Ration scheme extended: ‘We have more work during and after the rainy season, mainly in the agriculture sector. There is a slight slowness in other sectors. gradually, the atmosphere of festivals starts to build from July. This time of festivals also increases the needs, the expenses also. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana should now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja, that is, by the end of November.’
One nation-one ration card: ‘A ration card is also being arranged for the whole of India. The biggest benefit of this will be to those poor colleagues who leave their village and go elsewhere for employment or other needs.’
More than Rs 90,000 crore: ’This will be spent in the expansion of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. If you add the expenses of the last three months to it, then it becomes almost Rs 1.5 lakh crore.’
Thank you, taxpayers: ‘You have faithfully filled taxes, fulfilled your obligation, so today the poor of the country is able to cope with such a big crisis. I would like to greet every farmer, every taxpayer of the country very heartily, along with every poor person. I bow to them.’
(With inputs from Agencies)