New Delhi, Jun 30: In a pro-poor announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on Tuesday, extended the free foodgrain scheme to 80 crore poor families to avail the five kg free foodgrains till November-end.
In a televised address to the nation, Modi said the Government will keep providing free foodgrains to the poor section of the society, due to the increased need during the festivals.
He said the Government will incur an additional expenditure of Rs 90,000 crore to provide five kg rice or wheat and one kg gram every month to the poor, pointing out that the free distribution of foodgrains to 80 crore people in India could feed 2.5 times the US population, 12 times the UK population and, twice the European Union's population.
In his sixth address to the nation since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Prime Minister said under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, the Centre announced a package of Rs 1.75 lakh crore.
In the past three months, Rs 31,000 crore was deposited in bank accounts of 20 crore poor families. Also, Rs 18,000 crore was deposited in bank accounts of more than nine crore farmers, he added.
''Simultaneously, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan was quickly launched to provide employment of labourers in rural areas. The Government is spending Rs 50,000 crore on this scheme,'' Mr Modi added.
He also urged the citizens not to let their guard down as restrictions were being lifted across the country. He said nobody is above the law and rules must be followed by everyone, in order to beat the virus.
''A timely lockdown and other decisions helped saved lakhs of lives in the country,'' he added.
As part of the "one nation, one ration card" initiative, a ration card was being arranged for the whole of India, he said, adding that it's biggest beneficiary would be those "poor colleagues, who leave their village and go elsewhere for employment or other needs."
His address came on the eve of Unlock II, as the government prepared for further relaxation in night curfew, provision for more domestic flights and trains, and clearance for more than five people in a shop, beginning July 1.
"We have more work during and after the rainy season, mainly in the agriculture sector. There is a slight slowness in other sectors. Gradually, the atmosphere of festivals will start to build from July. This time of festivals also increases the needs, the expenses also.
''Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana should now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja, that is, by the end of November," the Prime Minister said.
"During the lockdown, the top priority of the country was that such a situation does not happen that the stove is not burnt in the house of a poor person. Be it the Central government, state governments or civil society people, everyone has made every effort that none of our poor brothers and sisters go hungry in such a big country," he said.
He said in comparison to other countries, India was still in a stable situation in the battle against Novel Coronavirus. Timely decisions and measures had played a great role in keeping down the number of cases.
''In the coming times, the Government will continue to take further steps to empower the poor and the needy. Economic activities will also be enhanced, with due precautions in place,'' he added.
The Prime Minister reiterated the pledge to work towards Atmanirbhar Bharat and to be vocal for local, while also asking people to be careful, use mask/face cover and continue following the mantra of maintaining "do gaz doori". (UNI)