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PMGKAY – Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana


Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of the scheme to provide free wheat and rice to approximately 80 crore people until November, offering relief to the impoverished amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The initial announcement in April provided free food grains for May and June through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, aiming to support citizens during the second wave of the pandemic.

Launched after the onset of the pandemic in March last year, the PMGKAY scheme targeted vulnerable segments of society, offering assistance from April to November 2020. In response to the resurgence of COVID-19, the scheme was reinstated for May and June 2021, acknowledging the continued impact of the pandemic’s second wave. The cost to the exchequer for the initial two-month extension in 2021 was approximately 25 thousand crore rupees, with a significant increase expected due to the latest extension.

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PMGKAY -About the Scheme

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) is a program under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative aimed at providing complimentary food grains to impoverished individuals and migrant workers.

What is Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana?

  • The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana is recognized as the world’s largest food security scheme.
  • Its primary objective is to ensure an adequate food supply for the people with low-income and needy, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The scheme was introduced as part of the initial relief package in response to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Under this initiative, eligible beneficiaries include those registered under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), including Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority household (PHH) ration cardholders.
  • Updated provisions of the scheme specify that eligible beneficiaries will receive 5kg of foodgrains along with 1 kg of Gram per month.

PMGKAY Eligibility

Eligible families for the scheme include those falling under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) – Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (PHH) categories. These criteria include:

  • Households headed by widows, terminally ill persons, disabled individuals, or persons aged 60 years or more with no assured means of subsistence or societal support.
  • Widows, terminally ill persons, disabled individuals, persons aged 60 years or more, single women, or single men with no family or societal support or assured means of subsistence.
  • All early tribal households.
  • Landless agricultural laborers, marginal farmers, rural artisans/craftsmen (such as potters, tanners, weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters), slum dwellers, and persons earning their livelihood on a daily basis in the informal sector (such as porters, coolies, rickshaw pullers, handcart pullers, fruit and flower sellers, snake charmers, rag pickers, cobblers, destitutes, and others) in both rural and urban areas.
  • All eligible Below Poverty Line families of HIV-positive persons.

Why these measures were necessary?

  • Economic agents, especially impoverished households and small businesses, are facing a liquidity crisis amidst the current circumstances.
  • The implementation of a nationwide lockdown, aimed at halting the spread of the novel coronavirus, has resulted in numerous daily wage workers and informal sector entrepreneurs experiencing a loss of income from their usual endeavors.

Concerns and challenges ahead

  • These measures might unintentionally ignore some daily wagers and informal workers.
  • Implementing these measures poses a significant challenge.
  • Government warehouses have ample surplus foodgrains available, but establishing a procurement system for pulses is necessary in most states.

Constraints to migrant workers

  • While recent measures are commendable, they may not effectively reach all vulnerable segments of the population.
  • India, as outlined in the Economic Survey (2018-19), confronts significant challenges in food security due to supply limitations, water scarcity, small land holdings, low per capita GDP, and insufficient irrigation.
  • Many migrant workers, who often do not live with their families, rely on roadside vendors and dhabas for meals, as opposed to cooking themselves.
  • Merely providing subsidized grains is insufficient without access to cooking facilities or fuel, thereby hindering adequate nourishment.
  • Encouraging migrant workers to return to urban areas is insufficient without addressing the issue of affordable food access.
  • Institutions like State Food Commissions have not yielded significant impacts.
  • There lacks political will to distribute nutritious food as a public health measure, while flawed policies impede such efforts.
  • The report on nutritional deficiency offers an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the Public Distribution System (PDS) in promoting dietary diversity among those reliant on subsidized food.
  • A crucial aspect of ensuring nutrient adequacy is “diet diversity,” which measures the variety of foods consumed over varying time periods, ranging from one to 15 days.

PMGKAY Extention

  • The extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY-III) until Deepawali has ensured that over 80 crore people continue to receive free food grain monthly until November 2021.
  • As of June 7, 2021, the Food Corporation of India has supplied 69 LMT free food grains to all 36 States/ UTs.
  • Thirteen States/ UTs have lifted full allocations for May-June 2021, while 23 States/ UTs have lifted 100% of their May 2021 allocation.
  • Among the North Eastern States, five have lifted their full May-June 2021 allocation, while Manipur and Assam are in the process of completing the lifting of free food grains.
  • FCI has loaded 1433 food grain rakes in May 2021, with an average of 46 rakes per day to ensure smooth supply across the country.
  • The Government of India is bearing the entire cost of distribution, including food subsidy, intra-state transportation, and dealer’s margin, without any sharing by States/ UTs.
  • PMGKAY is providing food security to beneficiaries amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by supplying free food grains.
  • The Government of India initiated the scheme to ease the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, providing eligible beneficiaries with free food grains at 5 kg per person per month.


In dire situations, the absence of food becomes a critical issue for survival. However, even in ordinary circumstances, having reliable access to nutritious food is imperative. Regardless of whether there is a pandemic or not, it is essential that all members of society have consistent access to affordable and safe food without uncertainty.

Read also: Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan Launched

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