The federal government has decided to provide free food rations to those covered by the National Food Security Act until at least December next year, rather than just subsidizing prices.
The decision essentially brings into the Act the current free rationing scheme – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana – which was introduced in 2020 after Covid affected livelihoods.
As a result, the bill will now cover more than 800 million people.
Minister Piyush Goyal announced the decision after a Cabinet meeting under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying Yojana had been in force for 28 months. Its latest extension expires this month.
The move will cost the government Rs 2 trillion a year.
According to the National Food Security Act, rice is currently priced at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2, among other rations.
“The Cabinet has decided to merge the scheme with the National Food Security Act until December 2023,” Mr Goyal announced.
The government had said last week that there were enough grain stocks under India’s Central Reserve to meet the requirements of the National Food Security Act and its other welfare schemes, as well as additional allocations to Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.