Free ration ensured food to every household during pandemic: BJP


PTI, Apr 13, 2022, 4:31 PM IST

New Delhi: Union minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday blamed the global situation, including high oil prices and the Russia-Ukraine conflict besides the pandemic, for price rise and asserted that the government has been taking measures to control it with duties on imports of several essential items like pulses virtually removed.

Addressing a press conference to highlight the benefits of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’, which provides free ration to over 80 crore people, Goyal said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has underlined his sensitivity to the poor and commitment to the welfare of the weaker sections of society as the programme has ensured that no household lacked in food during the pandemic for over two years.

Citing adequate availability of grains which has ensured total food security, the minister for commerce & industry, consumer affairs, food & public distribution and textiles noted that Modi had offered to supply from its stock to the world if the WTO accords permission, and added that the demand India has been receiving from various countries is ”historic” and ”beyond imagination”.

The world is looking to India for exports of grains, he said, noting that anywhere between 20-30 lakh tonnes of wheat have been exported in the last few weeks and a contract for export of 30-35 lakh tonnes of wheat has been signed for April-June quarters.

Wheat export has jumped from two lakh tonnes to 20 lakh tonnes and then to 70 lakh tonnes in the last fiscal and is estimated to be over 100 lakh tonnes in this fiscal, he said.

To a question about price rise, especially in the food items, he said global reasons have pushed up inflation everywhere.

Costlier food items pushed the retail inflation to a 17-month high of 6.95 per cent in March, much above the upper tolerance level of the Reserve Bank, according to government data released on Tuesday.

This is the third consecutive month that the Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based inflation remained above the 6 per cent mark. The previous high at 7.61 per cent was recorded in October 2020.

Speaking to reporters as part of the ‘Samajik Nyay Pakhwada’ (fortnight dedicated to social justice) being observed by the BJP to mark its 42nd foundation day to highlight the government’s various measures, Goyal said India set an example for the world with free ration to more than 80 crore people.

In a tweet, Modi earlier said that the poor’s welfare has been his government’s top priority, and it remained committed to this even during the pandemic. ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’ has assured citizens that the government is standing with them in every trouble, he added.

Over 1,000 lakh tonnes of grains have been distributed at the cost of over Rs 3.40 lakh crore in the last 25 months, Goyal said, noting that a recent IMF report said that this help in tackling poverty and inequality and brought down extreme poverty.

Noting the BJP’s winning streak in elections, he said people have also expressed their satisfaction with the government’s policy. Anti-incumbency sentiment was witnessed earlier but now people can see ”pro-incumbency” feeling among people, he said.

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