Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for another five months till the end of November to help the poor in view of the upcoming festivals like Diwali and Chhath.
The Prime Minister made the announcement in his sixth address to the nation in four months since the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic broke out and started getting out of hand.
"Friends, in our country, there are many activities in agriculture during and after rainy season. Other sectors do not have much activity. July also marks beginning of the festive season. July 5 is Guru Purnima, then month of Saawan is starting. Then August 15 is coming, Raksha Bandhan, Sri Krishna Janmashtami,Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam will follow. Further, Kati Bihu, Navratri, Durga Puja is coming, then Dushera, Diwali and Chhath. This festive season increases necessities as well as expenditure. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja, till November-end," said Modi during his 16-minute address.
Modi said that more than Rs 90,000 crore will be spent in the expansion of the scheme and around 80 crore people across the country will be provided free ration – five kg wheat or 5 kg rice.
The Prime Minister also said that every family will also be provided 1 kg gram (chana) under the scheme every month.
Explaining the expenses, the Prime Minister said it comes to almost one and a half lakh crore if the expenses of the last three months are added to it. Though the country is currently in 'Unlock 2' mode to help revive the stagnant economy, the Prime Minister requested people to keep precautions and follow the guidelines.
"Today, if the government is able to provide free ration to the needy and poor, then credit for it goes to two categories. One – hard working farmers of our country. Second – honest taxpayers of our country. It is your hard work and dedication, due to which the nation is able to do it. You have filled the stocks of the nation, therefore, there is food in kitchen of poor, workers.You paid the tax honestly, you fulfilled your duty. That is why, the poor of the country is successfully coping with such a big crisis. On behalf of all the poor of the country, I express my heartfelt gratitude to all the taxpayers and farmers, and also salute them," said the PM.
The Prime Minister addressed the nation for the second time in the span of three days as the nation headed towards a scarier and worse state of coronavirus outbreak pushing the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 5,66,840, with the number of fatalities inching closer to 17,000-mark.
On an average, there are around 18,000-20,000 Covid-19 cases reported every day and while the central government might be on the brink of coming up with a vaccine soon, the worry is still imminent given the expanse of the country and its demographic divide.
<em>(With agency inputs)</em>.