Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till September.

Under the scheme over 80 crore citizens get five kilograms of free ration every month. The Centre had launched the scheme in March 2020 in the wake of the first phase of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

The free grains are provided apart from the ration provided at subsidised rates under the National Food Security Act.

“The strength of India lies in the power of every citizen in the country,” Modi wrote in a tweet on Saturday. To further strengthen this power, the scheme has been extended.”

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Saturday extended the state’s own free ration scheme by three months, reported NDTV. This scheme had also been initiated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme will benefit 15 crore people of the state, the chief minister said, adding that the government will spending Rs 3,270 crore on it.

79% of Indian households experienced food insecurity in 2021

A total of 79% of Indian households across 14 states which responded to the second “Hunger Watch” survey reported some form of “food insecurity” in 2021. As much as 25% of the families said that they faced “severe food insecurity”, the survey report released on February 23 showed.

The survey was conducted between December 2021 and January 2022. The survey also showed that 31% of the respondents reported “mild food insecurity” and 23% experienced “moderate food insecurity”.

It said that over 60% of those surveyed were worried about not having enough food, were unable to eat healthy or nutritious food or could eat only a few food items.

“About 45% of the respondents reported that their household ran out of food in the month preceding the survey,” the report said. It also said that about 33% of the respondents said they or someone in their household had to skip a meal.

The survey was conducted on 6,697 respondents from 14 states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and West Bengal.

The report said that 41% of households surveyed, reported that the nutritional quality of their diet had deteriorated as compared to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

It also said that the income levels of 66% of the respondents had fallen as compared to that before the pandemic that broke out in January 2020. The survey said that 60% of families whose income had dropped, reported that their current earnings were less than half what they had been before the pandemic.