Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed the nation for the second day running and in this tranche of economic stimulus package the main focus was on providing free foodgrains to the migrant workers who don’t have ration card. An amount of Rs. 3500 crore has been allocated for this mission.
Pointing towards numbers from State governments, Ms. Sitharaman said there are an estimated 8 crore migrant workers who have been housed in government and privately run relief camps across the country since the lockdown.
However some econimists declared this step as one that should have been taken much earlier.
Apart from measures for migrant workers, the second tranche announced by the government included an extension of credit facilities for urban housing, street vendors and farmers and an interest subvention scheme for small businesses.
We want to make it clear that this move to provide free foodgrain for migrant workers is an extension of the Pradhan Mantri Gharib Kalyan Yojana, which provided an additional monthly free rice or wheat allocation of 5 kg per person, and 1 kg of pulse per household from April to June to the 80 crore people with ration cards covered by the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
Over the past month, migrant workers and others without ration cards have struggled without access to this free food.
“For those who are non-card holders, meaning they are neither under the NFSA nor are they holders of any State-level cards, they shall be given this benefit and if the person is remaining without card, he can also get it,” Ms. Sitharaman said.
“We are engaging with the State governments to make sure that they know where these migrants are, they can approach them and give them. Because most of these migrants who have no cards are staying in camps run either by the government or by NGOs, and therefore, based on a rough assessment given to us by all the State governments, we think there are about eight crore migrants for whom benefit will reach through this free food grain supply,” she said, adding that this is an initial assessment and that numbers may change.