BHUBANESWAR, Feb 3 (PTI) The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Friday demanded re-introduction of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’ (PMGKAY) for the poor and farmers.
BJD vice-president and lawmaker Debi Prasad Mishra, told a press conference that it was good that PMGKAY was started to provide additional 5 kg of free rice per person apart from the 5 kg rice of National Food Security Act per person to counter adverse of impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
“However, the Centre stopped the programme. It will affect the household food security of the poor as well as farmers … We appeal to the Centre to restart the PMGKAY programme in the interest of the poor and the farmers,” Mishra said.
The recent budget saw a reduction in food subsidy by about Rs 71,000 crore as compared to the amount spent by the Centre in 2021-22. This is primarily due to the stopping of PMGKAY, which will affect the poor and their chances of returning to normal conditions after the pandemic.
The Centre stopped the programme even as the situation post COVID is yet to return to normal and has affected the livelihood of the poor, who have lost their savings in the pandemic. Farmers will also be affected, he said.
The budget this year has also seen a reduction of about Rs 20,000 crore as compared to the amount spent by the Centre in 2021-22 in the procurement of food grains.
“This too is due to the stopping of PMGKAY and therefore reduction in procurement from farmers. This reduction will impact them. As the food procurement allocation is reduced, the farmers will also be deprived of getting their minimum support price (MSP) for sale of food grains,” Mishra said.
He hoped that the BJP MPs in the state will take up the matter with its central leadership and stress on the need for restarting PMGKAY in the larger interests of the household food security of the poor and the sale of food grains by farmers.
Before stopping the PMGKAY programme the Centre should have either provided an alternate programme or taken care of the financial adverse impact it could cause to the poor, said the leader of BJD, which helms the government in Odisha.
“In this case neither was done. We appeal to the Centre to rethink on these lines and restart the PMGKAY programme in the interests of the poor and the farmers”, Mishra added.