New Delhi, June 30: The Left parties on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending the PMGKAY scheme to provide 5 kg free ration to the needy is not enough as 10 kg per month is required to prevent hunger deaths.
They said extension of the scheme's period had been their demand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Also Read | Jharkhand Reports 60 New COVID-19 Cases Today: Live News Breaking & Coronavirus Updates on June 30, 2020.
In a televised address this evening, Modi announced extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) by five months till November end. Under the programme over 80 crore people, mostly poor, will be provided 5 kg of wheat or rice and one kg of pulses. The scheme was rolled out for three months from April, soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced to contain the spread of COVID-19. Also Read | Maharashtra Congress Minister Nitin Raut Hits Back at Sharad Pawar For Chiding Rahul Gandhi on India-China Face-Off.
"Bowing to people's protests Modi government has extended the provision of 5 kg grains free for 80 crore people for next 5 months. This falls far short of the required 10 kg per month for 6 months to all needy to prevent hunger deaths," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
"After this announcement extra food grains allocation was only 26 (lakh tonnes) in April & 29 lakh tonnes in May... Modi must release money from the thousands of crores of rupees collected in the private trust fund to combat Covid for free provision of 10 kg grains per month for 6 months to all needy," he said.
CPI general secretary D Raja asked the government why they were not addressing the issue of universalising the Public Distribution System (PDS), especially when the godowns have stocks far exceeding the buffer stock range.
He said it took a long time for the PM to understand the devastating effects of coronavirus in the country. "The PM for the first time has admitted to huge devastation of livelihood of people, growing hunger crisis and mass unemployment. At such a time, the least he could have done is double the quantity of food grains for each household.
"He didn't say a word about the cash transfers or even extending the scope of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act," he said. According to Modi, over Rs 90,000 crore will be spent on PMGKAY's extension, and if the last three months' expenditure on account of the scheme is added, the total budget will be about Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
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