India Extends Free Foodgrain Scheme For Poor Till November End

Under the scheme, 800 million people will be given five kilograms of rice or wheat, and one kilogram of lentils each month

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the nation on Tuesday announced that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will be extended till the end of November. The said scheme will benefit over 800 million people residing in the country.

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PM Narendra Modi

"These families will be given five kilograms of rice or wheat and one kilogram of lentils each month," PM Modi said during his sixth address to the nation in the aftermath of COVID-19 outbreak.

The number of people who were provided free ration is several times the population of many large countries, he said.

Noticing the arrival of the rainy season and commencement of several festivals such as Guru Purnima, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehera, among others, PM Modi announced the extension of the scheme keeping in mind the requirement and expenditure will increase in the coming days.

The government will spend more than INR 90,000 crore towards the extension of the scheme, PM Modi said, adding that if the amount spent towards it in the previous three months is added, together a total of almost INR 1.5 lakh crore would be spent towards the scheme.

He credited and thanked the hardworking farmers and honest taxpayer for making it possible.

As soon as the lockdown was imposed, India's finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26 announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, a comprehensive fiscal package of INR 1.7 lakh crore for the poor to help them fight the economic stress caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown.

The stimulus package includes measures related to food security and direct cash transfer.

During his speech on Tuesday, Modi mentioned that in the last three months, INR 31,000 crore has been transferred in the Jan Dhan bank accounts of almost 200 million poor families, INR 18,000 crore has been transferred to the bank accounts of more than 90 million farmers and INR 50,000 crore is being spent on PM Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan, which has been started to provide employment opportunities.

PM Modi also said the country is moving towards "one nation, one ration card', which will benefit migrant labourers who stay away from their native places.

He advised the citizens to maintain "do gaz ki doori' (maintain social distancing) and wear masks in public places.