Free foodgrains for 8 cr migrant workers: Govt.

**ADVANCE TO ACCOMPANY STORY SLUGGED INDIA-TECH REVOLUTION BY RAVI NESSMAN** In this Wednesday March 21, 2012, photograph, a Fair price shopkeeper weighs subsidized rice for a person below under poverty line under Public Distribution System, in Rayagada, in Indian eastern state of Orissa. India's Public Distribution System sends out 45 million metric tons of heavily subsidized food each year to help 400 million people in their tenuous struggle for survival, but in reality, the USD$15 billion social welfare program is a national embarrassment riven with corruption. (AP Photo/ Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI : The Centre on Thursday announced free foodgrains for an estimated 8 crore migrant workers for next two months at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore.
Announcing the second tranche of economic stimulus package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said 8 crore migrant workers who do not have either central or state PDS card, will get 5 kilogram of grains per person and 1 kilogram of ‘chana’ for two months.

Also, PDS ration cards will be made portable, allowing migrant workers to use their ration cards across states, she said adding this would benefit 67 crore beneficiaries or 83 per cent of PDS beneficiaries, in 23 states by August. By March 2021, 100 per cent coverage under ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ will be done, she added.
Finance minister today unveiled the second tranche of Centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus, which attempts to address the question of food, shelter and livelihood for migrant workers, street vendors and small farmers. The immediate relief measure announced was extra grain.
A universal, portable ration card which can be used across the country and affordable rental housing scheme are also in the works. “There is a legitimate concern about migrants returning to their home states. We are attending to migrants,” the minister said amid rising opposition criticism that the Centre is ignoring the plight of migrant labourers.
For farmers, the minister announced a Kisan Card. Provisions for loans have been made for street vendors and tribals. She said what the government is giving currently will continue and additional food grain will also be given.
In addition, those who don’t have a ration card, can avail 5 kg of rice or wheat and 5kg chana per family. This will benefit approximately 8 crore people and the government has allocated Rs 3,500 crore for this. “This will be enacted by state governments, and will be valid for the next 3 months,” she added.
Under the PM Awas Yojana, a scheme will start for rental housing, where institutions and associations will be asked to provide affordable housing on their premises. The government will also make provisions for affordable housing for the urban poor, labourers and migrants in all states and UTs, which will be built under public-private partnership.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a cumulative package of Rs 20 lakh crore to provide relief to various segments amid the financial crisis set off by the coronavirus outbreak. This included Rs 1.7 lakh crore package announced in March for the poor and Rs 5.6 lakh crore stimulus provided by the Reserve Bank of India through various monetary policies.

The rest of the package is being announced in tranches. Yesterday, Ms Sitharaman unveiled the first tranche, which comprised a Rs 5.94 lakh crore plan for MSMEs and others,
The Centre has been at the receiving end of opposition criticism since PM Modi announced the package. Most opposition parties — including the Congress, the Left, the DMK and the Trinamool Congress – have questioned why the migrant labourers who have been desperate to go home as their income dried up overnight is being repeatedly ignored.
The long line of migrants trudging on highways, carrying their small children and meager belongings, were among the most moving images of the lockdown. Even after the Centre started running special trains their situation did not improve. Many started journeys of hundreds of kilometers on trucks, tempos and even three-wheelers. Some never made it home.
(With Agency Inputs ).





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