SRINAGAR — The people across the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are perturbed over the announcement of the scrapping of Pradhan Mantri Gharib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), as the populace is mainly dependent on government-subsidized ration commodities which include rice, flour, and wheat.
Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal, while making the announcement in a presser on December 23, 2022, said the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) and the National Food Security Act have been merged and the expenditure of the scheme now to be exclusively known by National Food Security Act (NFSA), at rupees 2 trillion, will be borne by the Centre to support over 8 million people, till December 2023. By virtue of the merger, each soul will be entitled to five kilograms of ration per soul, instead of 10 kilograms.
The announcement back home took the consumers in awe as the people, especially in Kashmir valley, as five kilograms of rice per soul is not sufficient because rice is the staple food of the majority. The curtailment of five kilograms of food grain per soul may further aggravate the difficulties of consumers even as the extra food grain scheme called JKFES has already been stopped by the LG-led government.
To highlight the issue, people from different areas held a protest at Mahjoor Nagar Srinagar on Monday and at Sonwar Srinagar on Sunday last, urging the UT and Central government authorities to look into the matter.
A local said that the ration of five kilograms, disbursed by the store-keepers for each soul isn’t enough to fulfill the need. “We ask the government to provide us with more ration and take money from us for the surplus quantity,” he said.
A delegation of locals in Uri told the news agency GNS that the area is hilly and with no cultivable land available and they solely are dependent on subsidized rice. “We urge the government to reassess its newly-implemented policy as the five kilograms of ration are insufficient for us,” they said.
They said a scheme was passed by the government of Jammu and Kashmir in 2016 with a motive to provide five kilograms extra of rice for Kashmir division and wheat for Jammu division to each beneficiary in order to satisfy the further need for food grains.
The delegation members appealed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Government of India to restore the scheme (JKFES) so that the crisis of ration may not arise and people could comfortably get their ration at subsidized rates.
Notably, the PDP-BJP coalition government under former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti launched a scheme called Mufti Mohammad Syed Food Entitlement Scheme (MMSFES), later rechristened as Jammu and Kashmir Food Entitlement Scheme under which the additional food grain comprising of rice and wheat 5 kg per soul for Kashmir and Jammu divisions respectively.
As the scheme stands nullified, the subsequent scrapping of PMGKAY will only compound the sufferings of the consumers.
The delegation members have urged the Lieutenant Governor-led administration and Central government to reconsider the ramifications of the policy on consumers in Jammu and Kashmir.