A day after the declaration of the 21-day lockdown to prevent the Coronavirus pandemic, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced the world’s largest food security scheme to benefit 80 crore people across the country. Briefing media, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that every person who comes under this scheme will get 7 kg ration per month for the next three months, including wheat at a cost of Rs.2 per kg and rice at cost of Rs.3 per kg. The 80-crore people who would come under this scheme are those who use the Public Distribution System (PDS) and financially downtrodden, explained the Minister.
“The government has decided to provide 7 kg per person of food grains to 80 crore people under the Public Distribution System (PDS), which the world’s largest food security system,” said Javadekar, detailing the Cabinet decision.
“80 crore people will get wheat at Rs.2 a kg and rice at Rs.3 kg for the next three months,” the minister said. Wheat, which is otherwise given at Rs.7 per kg, is being given at Rs.2… this happens otherwise as well, but we should not forget that this is being given to 80 crore people for three months. Rice will be supplied at Rs.3/kg & wheat at Rs.2/kg. For 80 crore people, rice would be available at Rs.3 instead of its usual price which is Rs.37,” said Javadekar, reiterating public to avoid panic in buying essential commodities.
Stressing people to keep social distancing, Javadekar said that Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also kept distance between Ministers. “We have to keep social distancing for the next 21 days to prevent the pandemic. Otherwise, the purpose will be lost,” he said.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister reiterated that there will be no shortage of food products and essential goods during the lockdown. Immediately after the announcement of 21 days lockdown, grocery stores in the country saw a burst of buyers rushing to gather enough grocery items to keep their household running in the lockdown. On delivery businesses, he said that it is unfortunate that delivery agents are harassed at some places, but such cases are very few in number.
Detailing the logistics of supply of wheat, rice, and other items to 80 crore people, Javadekar said that all states have been asked to take food grains from the Centre in advance for distribution through the PDS and Food Corporation of India (FCI) networks across the country are geared up for this scheme. Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the government is supplying 5 kg of food grains per month to over 80 crore people at a highly subsidised price, he added.
Javadekar said that all essential commodities supply shops will be open, requesting the public to avoid the rush and keep social distancing, showing photos of certain shops methods to make people in line at safe distance.