The Union Cabinet, in a significant decision, has approved the allocation of approximately Rs 11.80 lakh crore over the next five years for the food subsidy under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

Starting from January 1, 2024, the Central government aims to provide free food grains to around 81.35 crore beneficiaries under PMGKAY. This move is hailed as a historic decision, positioning PMGKAY among the world’s largest social welfare schemes dedicated to ensuring food and nutrition security for a vast population.

The estimated cost of this initiative is Rs 11.80 lakh crore over the next five years, making it a substantial investment in uplifting and supporting the targeted population. The food subsidy for the distribution of food grains under PMGKAY is projected to be around Rs 11.80 lakh crore during this period.

For instance, the economic cost of 35 kg of rice for an Antyodaya family is Rs 1371, and the cost of 35 kg of wheat is Rs 946. Under PMGKAY, the Government of India bears these costs, providing the entire food grains for free to the families. This initiative is expected to lead to significant monthly savings for ration cardholders.

The decision to offer free food grains, including rice, wheat, and coarse grains/millets, for a duration of five years from January 1, 2024, aims to strengthen food security and alleviate financial hardship for the poor and vulnerable sections of the population. Additionally, it will establish nationwide uniformity in the delivery of free food grains to all states and union territories through a network of over 5 lakh Fair Price Shops, unified under a common logo, as outlined in the Cabinet note.

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