This will allow states to distribute foodgrain to beneficiaries whose names are registered under state cheap food programmes but aren’t part of the NFSA.
Under NFSA, almost 810-million population is covered with with caps at state level, while there are some states that provide universal cheap ration at their own expense.
The move follows reports of people not getting the extra free 5 kilos of foodgrain that was to be distributed to the poor as part of the Covid-19 relief measures.
States, according to the latest order, can lift extra wheat and rice from the central pool over and above their regular allocation under the public distribution system at Rs 22 per kilo for rice and Rs 21 per kilo for wheat.
Food Minister Ramvilas Paswan in a series of tweets said states would be free to purchase wheat and rice directly from the Food Corporation of India at a lower rate for distribution to those whose names don’t figure n the existing central beneficiary lists. This reduced price is just 25 paise per kilo lesser than the prevailing open market sale price for wheat and 50 paise per kilo lesser for rice.
For procurement, the agriculture ministry’s latest order follows its April 5 decision granting blanket approval to 13 states to immediately start procurement of chana (gram) and masoor (lentil), the two big pulses
grown during the rabi season. The states are Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal. These states can start procuring up to 25 per cent of the produce without waiting for the Centre’s formal clearance.
The purchases will be made under various existing central schemes, including PM-AASHA (Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan), of which price support scheme is a part.
The total rabi chana production in 2019-20, according to the government’s estimates, is projected to be 11.28 million tonnes (mt), while masoor output is projected at 1.39 mt, and the Centre will assist states in purchase up to 25 per cent of that, according to guidelines.