New Delhi: The secretary, department of food & public distribution, Shudhanshu Pandey, Monday briefed the media persons about payment to farmers for wheat procurement, PMGKAY-3 and One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme through a virtual press conference.

The Secretary informed that out of total DBT payment of Rs 49,965 crore so far transferred directly into farmers’ account across India on account of wheat procurement. He further informed that Rs 21,588 Crore in Punjab and about Rs 11,784 Crore in Haryana has been transferred directly into farmers’ account.

As the procurement in Rabi Marketing Season 2021-22 is going on smoothly, i Pandey informed that as on 9th May, 2021 total 337.95 LMT wheat has been procured, as compared to 248.021 LMT wheat has been procured during last year on corresponding day. He further informed that around 34.07 Lakh farmers have been benefitted so far against 28.15 lakh last year as on date. He said procurement has undertaken through 19,030 purchase centres across India. He said Haryana and Punjab also switched from indirect payment of MSP to direct online transfers of benefit to farmers, farmers are now receiving direct benefits against sale of their crops without any delay across the country.

Speaking about the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” (PM-GKAY III), the secretary said that the department started implementation of  “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” (PM-GKAY III) for two months period i.e. May and  June 2021 in same pattern as earlier by providing an additional quota of free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat) at a scale of 5 Kg per person per month, over and above their regular monthly NFSA entitlements to about 80 Crore beneficiaries covered under both categories of NFSA, namely Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Householders (PHH). The Government of India will bear all expenditure of over Rs 26,000 crore on account of food subsidy and Central assistance to states/UTs on account of intrastate transportation

While briefing the media, Pandey informed that the distribution of food grains is going as per schedule for the month of May, 2021.  He said as on 10thMay 2021, 15.55 LMT of food grains have been lifted from FCI depots by the 34 States/UTs for the month of May 2021 and over 1 Lakh MT has been distributed to over 2 Crore beneficiaries by 12 states/UTs. he said that almost all States/UTs have indicated action plan to complete the distribution of PMGKAY-III Foodgrains, for the months of May and Jun 2021, by the end of June 2021.

He further said that the department is continuously reviewing the scheme and pursuing with all States/UTs to give wide publicity and to ensure timely distribution of PM-GKAY III Foodgrains in a transparent manner through ePoS devices after following all safety protocols relating to COVID -19 pandemic, as per advisories issued. VC meetings were held with Food Secretaries/ representatives of States/UTs by Secretary (DoFPD) on 26th April 2021 and by Joint Secretary (BP,PD) on 5th May 2021 to strategize and review the progress of foodgrains distribution.

Emphasising the importance of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC), secretary, D/o Food & Public Distribution shared that it is an ambitious plan and endeavour of the Department to introduce the nation-wide portability of ration cards under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA). This aims to empower all migrant beneficiaries to seamlessly access their NFSA foodgrains/benefits anywhere in the country. Presently, this system is seamlessly enabled in 32 States/UTs, covering about 69 Crore beneficiaries (86% NFSA population) in these States/UTs.

Pandey said that ONORC is now enabled in 32 States/ UTs.He said that monthly average of about 1.5 to1.6 crore potability transactions are being recorded under ONORC. Pandey informed that more than 26.3 Crore portability transactions (including intra-state transactions) have taken place all across these States/UTs, Since the inception of this scheme in August, 2019, out of which almost 18.3 Crore portability transactions have been recorded during the Covid-19 period of April, 2020 to April 2021 itself. He further informed that Given the potential of One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan to ensure the access to NFSA foodgrains to Migrant NFSA beneficiaries during the COVID-19 crisis, this department has been continuously pursuing with States/UTs through VC meetings/advisories/letters etc to implement the programme to its full potential by proactively reaching out to the migrant beneficiaries. These States/UTs have been requested to undertake wide-spread publicity and awareness of the ONORC plan, 14445 toll-free number and ‘Mera Ration’ Mobile application that was recently developed by Department in association with NIC for the benefit of NFSA beneficiaries, specifically the migrant NFSA beneficiaries, in nine different languages viz. English, Hindi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati. Efforts are afoot to include more regional languages in the Mera Ration App, going forward.

Shri Pandey said that in view of resurgence of Covid, with the objective to make wheat and rice stocks easily available in open market, Government of India has liberalised OMSS(D) policy for the year 2021-22. It is informed that the Sale of food grains under OMSS(D) has started in non- procuring States and 2800 MT have been sold so far.

It is also informed that during Covid-19 pandemic, around 928.77 LMT of foodgrains, 363.89 LMT of wheat and 564.88 LMT of rice have been issued from central pool during 1.4.2020 to 31.3.2021for distribution.

While replying to a question about price rise of edible oils, Shri Pandey said that priceof edible oils is being monitored closely by the government. He said due to covid condition some stocks are stuck at ports due to clearance relating tests by various agencies, the problem is now addressed and soon stocks will be released in the market and this will show softening impact on oil prices.

While answering another question about sugar subsidy, Shri Pandey informed that detailed review with sugar and ethanol industry have been going on. He said, we have achieved blending target of 7.2 % this year and we are trying to achieve 8.5 % blending target by the end of this year. He said, as of now 11 states in the country already achieved the blending target of 9-10 %, while rest of the states are working on it.