Why in news?
- The major focus of the second tranche of the economic stimulus package announced on 14th May 2020 is to provide free food grains for the next two months to migrant workers who do not have ration cards.
- The Centre will help create affordable rental housing for the urban poor and provide relief worth ₹1,500 crore to small businesses through an interest subvention scheme, apart from extending credit for street vendors, farmers, and middle-class housing.
Helping Migrant Workers without cards
- There are an estimated 8 crore migrant workers who have been housed in government and privately-run relief camps across the country since the lockdown.
- The move to provide free food grain for migrant workers is an extension of the Pradhan Mantri Gharib Kalyan Yojana, which provided an additional monthly free rice or wheat allocation of 5 kg per person, and 1 kg of pulse per household from April to June to the 80 crore people with ration cards covered by the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
- Migrant workers and others without ration cards have struggled without access to this free food.
- Most of these migrants who have no cards are staying in camps run either by the government or by NGOs.
- Food Ministry data shows that inter-State transactions under the scheme have been very low, around 200 per month, since the lockdown due to poor awareness and the stalling of biometric authentications due to the pandemic.
- By August 2020, the ration card portability scheme will allow 67 crore NFSA beneficiaries in 23 connected states to use their cards at any ration shop anywhere in the country, allowing migrant workers to access subsidized food away from their home villages.
- The need of the moment was to universalize the Public Distribution System to provide food to whoever needed it.
People who are ‘Cardless’ and without food in India
- There are 50 crore people in the country without ration cards, of which 10 crore people are legally entitled to PDS grain under NFSA.
- OF the remaining 40 crore people there are many people who were managing in normal times, vegetable vendors, gig economy workers, autorickshaw drivers, who are in dire straits now.
- The measure to keep MGNREGA work open during the monsoon, known as the “hungry season” will be very helpful.
- Migrant workers and other urban poor face difficulties in finding affordable housing.
- A scheme to build rental housing complexes through public private partnership mode would be launched under the existing Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme, to help the poor to afford housing.
- Both public and private agencies will be incentivised to build rental housing on government and private land, while existing government housing will be converted into rental units.
The credit linked subsidy scheme for lower middle class housing under PMAY will also be extended by one year to March 2021, and is likely to benefit 2.2 lakh more families.
- Street vendors who have been hit hard by the lockdown will be given access to easy credit through a ₹5,000 crore scheme, which will offer ₹10,000 loans for initial working capital.
- Small businesses who have taken loans under the MUDRA-Shishu scheme, meant for loans worth ₹50,000 or less, will receive a 2% interest subvention relief for the next year.
-Source: The Hindu, Hindustan Times