The Union government had issued orders for allocation of nearly eight lakh metric tonnes (MT) of additional food grains to the States and Union Territories, which would distribute it to eight crore migrant workers and their families, Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Saturday.
The government was sensitive to the plight of migrant workers, who have been left without any income since March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, he said.
Mr. Paswan’s statement came even as lakhs of migrant workers are still on the road, trying to make their way back to their native villages from cities across the country.
Addressing a press briefing through videoconference, he said: “If the number of migrants exceeds the current estimation of eight crore, the Centre is ready to provide additional grains for free supply but the identified person should be genuine which State governments have to validate.”
The allocation of additional grains was done on the basis of 10% of the total number of the beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act in each State or UT. The Centre would bear the entire cost of the distribution, including transportation within the State and dealers’ margin, while the States and UTs would be responsible for the identification of the migrant workers and distribution of grains to them.
Of the 7.99 lakh MT allocated to the States and UTs for two months, 26,823 MT was for Andhra Pradesh, 25,152.92 for Assam, 86,449.69 MT for Bihar, 7,273.32 MT for Delhi, 20,077 MT for Chhattisgarh, 38,253.58 MT for Gujarat, 40,193 MT for Karnataka, 15,480.012 MT for Kerala, 54,642 MT Maharashtra, 44,662 MT for Rajasthan, 35,733.71 MT for Tamil Nadu, 1,42,032.65 MT for Uttar Pradesh and 60,183.77 MT for West Bengal.
The distribution of free grains was a part of the economic package announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday. When asked how the government had arrived at the figure of eight crore migrant workers who would be covered under the initiative, she said it was the number provided by the States by factoring in the workers staying at various camps.
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said Karnataka had started lifting the grain. Madhya Pradesh would do so from May 18, while Kerala had responded to take the grain from godowns.
(With inputs from PTI)