Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an address to the nation, announced an extension of Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana - the key government scheme to distribute free food grains to 80 crore people - till November to provide relief to the poor during the festival season amid the coronavirus crisis. The government plans to spend Rs 90,000 crore on expanding the free ration scheme till November, PM Modi said.
The prime minister also credited farmers and taxpayers for aiding the fight against the deadly virus that has infected over 5.6 lakh people in the country.
Here's the full text of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address:
My dear countrymen, namaskar!
We are now entering Unlock-Two in our fight against the corona pandemic. We are also entering the season of increasing cases of cough, cold and fever. I, therefore, request all of you to take special care of yourselves
Friends, considering corona's death rate, India is comparatively in a better position compared to many countries of the world. Timely imposition of lockdown and other decisions have saved lakhs of lives. But we have also seen that since Unlock-One, there is increasing negligence in personal and social behaviour. Earlier, we were very careful with respect to wearing of masks, social distancing and washing of hands for 20 seconds. But today, when we need to be more careful, increasing negligence is a cause of worry.
Friends, rules were followed very strictly during the lockdown. Now governments, local bodies, citizens, need to show similar alertness. Especially, we need to focus more on containment zones. Those not following the rules will need to be stopped and cautioned. You must have seen in the news, the prime minister of a country was fined Rs 13,000 for not wearing a mask in public place. In India too, the local administration should work with the same enthusiasm. This is a drive to protect the lives of 130 crore countrymen. Be it a village pradhan or the prime minister, no one is above the law in India
Friends, nation's top priority during the lockdown was to ensure that no one remains hungry. Central government, state governments, civil society, all did their best... to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry. Be it a nation or a person, timely and sensible decisions increase our power to fight any crisis. Thus, immediately after the lockdown, the government brought out the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. Under this scheme, a package worth Rs. 1.75 lakh crore was provided for the poor.
Friends, in the last three months, 20 crore poor households have received direct benefit transfers worth Rs. 31,000 crore. During this period, Rs 18,000 crore have been deposited in bank accounts of over 9 crore farmers. Simultaneously, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan was quickly launched for the employment of shramiks in rural areas. Government is spending Rs. 50,000 Crore on this.
Friends, there is another big thing that has surprised the whole world. In India, over 80 crore people were given free ration for three months. It means, every member of the family was given 5 kilogram wheat or rice, free of cost. In addition, every family got one kilogram pulse per month, free of cost. In a way, over 2.5 times the population of the United States, 12 times the population of the United Kingdom and double the population of the European Union was given free ration by our government.
Friends, today, I am making a big announcement related to this. Friends, in our country, there are many activities in agriculture during and after rainy season. Other sectors do not have much activity. July also marks beginning of the festive season. 5th July is Guru Purnima, then month of Saawan is starting. Then 15th August is coming. Raksha Bandhan, Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam will follow. Further, Kati Bihu, Navratri, Durga Puja is coming, then Dussera, Diwali and Chhath. This festive season increases necessities as well as expenditure. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja, till November-end.
It means, this scheme giving free ration to 80 crore people will continue in July, August, September, October, November. Government will provide free ration to 80 crore poor brothers-sisters for five months. Every member of family will get five kilogram wheat or rice. Also, every family will get one kilogram whole chana per month, free of cost.
Friends, over 90 thousand crore rupees will be spent on this extension of PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. If we add expenditure of last three months on this scheme, then it comes to around 1.5 lakh crore rupees.
We have seen a dream for the whole country and some states have really done well. We are requesting other states also totake it forward. And, what is that?Now, One Nation, One Ration card is also being implemented. Major beneficiaries of this will be those who go to other states, in search of employment.
Friends, today, if the government is able to provide free ration to the needy and poor, then credit for it goes to two categories. One - hard working farmers of our country. Second - honest taxpayers of our country. It is your hard work and dedication, due to which the nation is able to do it. You have filled the stocks of the nation, therefore, there is food in kitchen of poor, workers. You paid the tax honestly, you fulfilled your duty. That is why, the poor of the country is successfully coping with such a big crisis. On behalf of all the poor of the country, I express my heartfelt gratitude to all the taxpayers and farmers, and also salute them.
Friends! In the coming days, we will further strengthen our efforts and continuously work to empower the poor, downtrodden and deprived sections of society. While taking all the precautions, we will further expand the Economic Activities. We will work ceaselessly for Atmanirbhar Bharat. We all will be vocal for local. With this pledge and commitment, the 130 crore people of this country will have to work together and move forward together.
I once again request you, pray for your, and appeal to you, that you all remain healthy, maintain a distance of two yards, always use your 'Gamchha', Face cover and mask. Please, do not be careless.
With this appeal, best wishes to all of you!