Rs 1.49 lakh crore for free food grain for 81 crore poor among key cabinet decisions
Javadekar said the free food grain scheme was the largest in the world and has become very popular for its reach.Updated: Jul 08, 2020 16:44 IST
The central government on Wednesday approved continuance of key welfare schemes launched earlier to safeguard the vulnerable sections from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. It includes a five month extension to the free food grain programme for 81 crore people and three month extension to free LPG gas cylinders for 7 crore 40 lakh beneficiaries of Ujjwala Yojana.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said that in view of the need for continuous support to the poor and needy, the central Cabinet had approved extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, ensuring additional allocation of foodgrain for further five months from July to November 2020.
Javadekar said that about 74.3 crore beneficiaries were covered in April, 74.75 crore in May and about 64.72 crore in June under the scheme that was launched to help the poorest segments of the society after the cessations of all economic activities during the lockdown clamped nationally to contain the spread of the disease in March this year.
In effect, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana has been stretched to eight months in total from April to November 2020. A total of 81 crore people are entitled under the scheme to receive 5 kg of food grain per person and one kg of lintels and 1 kg of gram per family every month.
“Two crore 3 lakh tonne of food grain will be given to 81 crore people. One kg of gram per family per month will amount to 9 lakh 70 thousand tonnes. The total cost of this scheme is 1 lakh 49 thousand crore,” Javadekar said.
He added that this was the first time since independence that free ration was being provided for eight continuous months to 81 crore people through a programme unique to the entire world.
He added that this scheme has been hugely popular for helping poor across sections including migrant workers without ration cards.
Cabinet also approved the extension of time limit for Ujjwala beneficiaries to avail the benefits of three free LPG cylinders by another three months with effect from 1st July 2020.
“In another important decision taken by the government to help the beneficiaries of Ujjwala Yojana, the 7 crore 40 lakh beneficiaries can avail of their unused LPG cylinders from the quota of allotted three free cylinders till the month of September now,” Javadekar said
He said this will lead to an additional expenditure of 13,500 crore for the central government.
In the third big measure, he announced Cabinet’s approval to extend by three months the government’s contribution of 24% employees’ provident fund (EPF) for small companies from June to August 2020.
Under this scheme the government has paid the 24% EPF amount on the behalf of the employees and the employers of small firms that have less than 100 workers with 90% of its workforce earning less than 15,000 rupees a month.
The extension of this scheme from June to August 2020 under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan will result in an additional expenditure of Rs 4,860 crore and benefit over 72 lakh employees, Prakash Javadekar said.
The government has also cleared a scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana to provide cheap accommodation to migrant labourers on rent in 107 cities. Javadekar said that one lakh eight thousand such one bed room flats are ready to be rented out to migrant workers.
He added that on an average, a thousand flats are currently available in each city and an additional 1 lakh 15 thousand flats will be made in the first phase along with dormitories to accommodate additional 1 lakh 33 thousand people. This scheme is continuous and will continue to be expanded and will help around 3.5 lakh migrants in the first phase, he claimed.
In another significant decision, Javadekar said that three government owned insurance companies will receive investment of Rs 12,450 crore by the government in a plan to recapitalize the companies.