Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (photo/ANI)
Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (photo/ANI)

Centre asks States/UTs to keep Fair Price Shops open for longer duration for safe, timely distribution of NFSA/PM-GKAY III food grains

By Nishant Ketu | Updated: May 16, 2021 21:47 IST

New Delhi [India], May 16 (ANI): In view of ongoing lock-down in some states and Union Territories (UTs), the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution issued an advisory to all states/UTs to keep the Fair Price Shops open preferably on all days of the month.
The advisory asked the state/UT governments to distribute Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana III (PMGKAY III) and National Food Security Act (NFSA) foodgrains to beneficiaries in a staggered manner throughout the day to allow for proper social distancing and adherence to COVID-19 protocols at Fair Price Shops.
To facilitate this, States/UTs have been requested to ensure that Fair Price Shops are exempted from the restricted hours of opening of the regular market.
Talking to ANI in this regard, Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said that the advisory has been issued so that beneficiaries can come to Fair Price Shops according to their convenience while following COVID-19 protocols.
"We made this announcement on April 26. Since then, the distribution of 80 lakh metric tonnes of food grains was to be done to date. All states are working fast to achieve the target. We have given directions to all states to keep their Fair Price Shop open at all times in view of the COVID lockdowns. They should be open on all days of the week, from morning to evening, so that people can come according to their convenience and take the grains while following COVID protocol. This is a very important guideline," he said.
Pandey said the government is informing people about the benefits of PMGKAY through all means of communications including local news, community radio, posters. "People go to the Fair Price Shop and they will get full information," he added.
In the advisory to the state/UT governments, the Centre has stated that it is states' and UTs' responsibility to ensure the additional food grains are made available in a "safe and time-bound manner by duly following the COVID-19 protocol" to the beneficiaries.
Informing about the recently launched "Mera Ration" app by the government, Pandey said, "It is currently available in nine languages. Our effort is to bring it in 14 regional languages. Beneficiaries can see on their phone which shop is near them and can take grain from any shop."
He further said that 14 states have distributed the entire allocation of the month. "Overall, 71 per cent distribution is done. We hope that the whole month's distribution will be done within the next 5-6 days," he added.
The Secretary informed that normally around 43 lakh metric tonnes of food grains are distributed in a month. "Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, we will distribute 40 lakh metric tons more. About 83 lakh metric tonnes of distribution is to be done in a month. Currently, the distribution work is progressing well. We are in discussion with the states every week. All the state governments are taking great interest in it. In some places like Madhya Pradesh, officers have given ration to the disabled by going to their homes," he said.
Speaking about the "One Nation, One Ration Card" scheme, Pandey said that since the introduction of the scheme, about 26.3 crore portable transactions have taken done under it.
"About 185 million portable transactions have taken place during the pandemic itself. It shows that the One Nation, One Ration Card is a very successful scheme and people will benefit from it," he said.
It is noteworthy that the Government of India has taken measures in the interest of the poor to reduce the economic hardships faced by NFSA beneficiaries during the second wave of COVID-19, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKAY-III). Under the scheme, for two months period i.e. May and June 2021 in the same pattern as earlier an additional quota of free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat) will be provided at a scale of 5 kg per person per month, over and above their regular monthly NFSA entitlements to about 80 Crore beneficiaries covered under both categories of NFSA, namely Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Householders (PHH). (ANI)