New Delhi: Data from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has revealed that a mere 33% of the eight lakh tonnes of foodgrain (wheat and rice) and 56% of 29,132 tonnes of gram, meant to be distributed to migrants under the Atmanirbhar Bharat package, has reached them.
To support migrants who were not registered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the region where they work during the COVID-19 pandemic, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May had announced the free disbursement of five kg foodgrain and one kg gram per month to migrant families for two months – May and June. This was later extended for July and August.
Sitharaman had projected that about eight crore migrants would benefit from this measure and accordingly, the amount of foodgrain was allocated. The states, on the other hand, had put out a figure of only 2.8 crore migrants to the Centre.
Out of eight lakh tonnes of foodgrain dedicated for the migrants, 6.38 lakh tonnes was lifted by the states and union territories but only 2.64 lakh tonnes distributed in the past four months, shows the data as on August 31.
Twenty-six of the 36 states and union territories had lifted 100% of foodgrain allotted to them. Out of these, only four — Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Odisha — distributed the entire foodgrain amount among the migrants. Telangana and Goa’s distribution stood at 1% and 3% respectively.
Gujarat had lifted about 88% of allocated foodgrain but distributed only 1%.
Across India, migrants received 1.17 lakh tonnes of foodgrain in May; 1.24 lakh tonnes in June; 15,223 tonnes in July; and only 7,643 tonnes in August.
The data also shows that out of 29,132 tonnes of the gram set aside for migrants, states and union territories distributed only about 16,323 tonnes (56%) till August 31.
100% distribution of gram was reported by only Delhi and Manipur. Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Ladakh and Lakshadweep have reported less than 10% distribution of gram.
As per food ministry officials, this scheme for foodgrains ended on Monday. No state had asked for extending it.
The Wire had reported earlier that without a list or proper count of migrant workers, distribution of foodgrain had been a difficult task for the government and resulted in a mess. As per the Centre’s admission, the Atmanirbhar scheme hasn’t quite performed as promised as “the identification process of genuine beneficiaries took some time”.
According to an Indian Express report, senior officials from the department of consumer affairs have informed the parliamentary standing committee on labour, headed by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, that about 16,000 tonnes of free gram have been distributed to migrant families under the Atmanirbhar Bharat package.
This committee is discussing social security and welfare measures for inter-state migrants and workers in the unorganised and informal sector.