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NFSA and PM-GKAY

Context:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the extension of the central government’s free foodgrains scheme under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 “for the next five years”.
  • He made the announcement at election rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh over the weekend.

About PMGKAY:

  • The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY), the pandemic-time relief measure under which an additional 5 kg of foodgrains was supplied free to all beneficiaries of the NFSA from April 2020 onwards, was stopped with effect from January 1, 2023.
  • However, the highly subsidised foodgrains being supplied under the NFSA were made free until the end of 2023.
  • The Prime Minister has now given a commitment that this free supply of grains will continue for another five years.
  • The PM-GKAY was launched in April 2020, as a Covid-19 pandemic hit, and economic activities came to a halt.
  • Under the scheme, 5 kg of foodgrains were provided free to all beneficiaries of the NFSA.
  • This relief was in addition to their entitlement of 5 kg of subsidised foodgrains under the law.
  • The scheme was started as one of the components of the government’s Rs 1.7 lakh crore Covid relief package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamanon March 26, 2020, two days after the country went into a national lockdown.

What is the NFSA?

  • The NFSA was enacted by the UPA-2 government, and came into effect on July 5, 2013.
  • The law guaranteed “access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices” under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) to 50% of the urban and 75% of the rural population of the country.
  • The overall national coverage of the NFSA is about 67.5% of the population.
  • Under the law, the number of persons to be covered in rural and urban areas of a state shall be calculated on the basis of population estimates as per the Census of which the relevant figures have been published.
  • The latest published Census figures are from 2011 — and based on that, about 81.35 crore people can be covered by the NFSA.
  • The subsidised prices are specified in Schedule-1 of the NFSA, which the government can change by executive order.
  • Until the end of 2022, NFSA beneficiaries paid Rs 3, Rs 2, and Re 1 per kg of rice, wheat, and nutri-cereals (millets) respectively.
  • There are two categories of beneficiary households under the NFSA — the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, and the Priority Households (PHs).
  • Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains every month irrespective of the number of members in the household.
  • PHs are entitled to receive foodgrains according to the number of family members.
  • Each member of a PH is entitled to receive 5 kg of foodgrains every month under the NFSA.
  • So, the bigger a PH family, the greater is the quantity of foodgrains it gets.

Syllabus: Prelims + Mains; GS III – Food security

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