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Free Foodgrains Scheme

Context: The Union government has decided to provide Free Foodgrains Scheme to all 81 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for one year starting January 2023.

More on Free Foodgrains Scheme

  • Free Food Grains: From January 2023 onwards, all the beneficiaries under the NFSA, 2013 will be provided 5 kg of Free Foodgrains per month, rather than charging them a subsidized amount of Rs 3 a kg of rice, Rs 2 a kg of wheat and Rs 1 a kg of coarse cereal as is currently done.
  • Termination of PMGKAY: The union government has also decided to discontinue the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) and it has now been merged with the NFSA.
    • The discontinuation and merger of PMGKAY comes at a time when the foodgrains stock has depleted over the months.
Scheme 2013-19 2020-22 (Covid years) 2023
National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 Rs 3/kg Rice,

Rs 2/kg wheat

Rs 1/kg coarse grain

Rs 3/kg Rice,

Rs 2/kg wheat

Rs 1/kg coarse grain

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) N/A 5 Kg free ration Stopped
Total Food Grains 35 Kg for AAY Households (per Household per month)


5kg for Priority Households (per Person per month)

5 Kg per Person under NFSA at Subsidized price + 5 Kg free under PMGKAY = 10 Kg per Person per month 5 kg per Person per month under NFSA (free)

What is the Impact of this Measure on the Food Subsidy Bill?

  • In a normal year, without COVID disruptions, the Centre’s food subsidy bill on account of the NFSA amounted to around Rs 2 lakh crore.
  • The PMGKAY effectively doubled that sum for the past two years.
  • Now that the Centre plans to give free foodgrains under the NFSA for a year, it will spend an additional Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 16,000 crore on that.
  • However, the Centre will save around Rs 2 lakh crore by ending the PMGKAY scheme. Overall, the move will relieve a major burden on the Union Budget.


How will it Impact Beneficiaries?


About the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013

  • Launch: The Union government has notified the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 on 10th September, 2013.
  • Objective: To provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
  • Implementing agency: The Act provides for State Food Commission (SFC) in every State/UT, for the purpose of monitoring and review of implementation of the Act.


Salient Features of the NFAS, 2013


  • 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
  • Overall, NFSA caters to 67% of the total population.

Beneficiaries and Entitlement

There are two categories of beneficiary households under the NFSA:

  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY): The AAY households are entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per month irrespective of the number of family members.
  • The Priority Households: The priority households get food grains depending on the number of family members (each member 5 kg per month).
  • The identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs.
  • The beneficiaries will be provided with foodgrains at subsidized prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains under TPDS.

Nutritional Support to Women and Children

  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers and children (6-14 years) will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes.
  • Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children upto 6 years of age.

Maternity Benefit

  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.

Women Empowerment

  • Eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.

Assistance by Central Government

  • Central Government will provide assistance to States in meeting the expenditure incurred by them on transportation of foodgrains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers’ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose.

Food Security Allowance

  • Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.


About the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)

  • Launch: It is a food security welfare scheme announced by the Government of India in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
    • It was announced as a part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, which is a comprehensive relief package of Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore for the poor to help them fight the battle against Coronavirus.
  • Implementing agency: The program is operated by the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
  • Objective: It is aimed at providing free foodgrains5 kg per person per month — to eligible beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. This is over and above their monthly entitlement under the NFSA.
  • How is the PM-GKAY different from the NFSA?
    • The NFSA is a right-based scheme under a law of Parliament, while the PM-GKAY is a scheme announced by the executive as a top-up to the entitlements under the NFSA.
    • The PM-GKAY provides additional benefits to NFSA beneficiaries, but does not cover additional beneficiaries beyond the accepted limit of 81.35 crore persons under the NFSA.


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