The Anna Adhikar Abhiyan, Maharashtra and the Right to Food Campaign observed a National Day of Action on November 22, 2020 , to press for various demands with respect to the Public Distribution system.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), which is due to expire by end November 2020, all holders of ‘priority’ or AAY ration card under the National Food Security Act (2013), are receiving an additional 5 kg of ration per person, per month, alongwith 1 kg of Chana per household, free of cost. However, no announcement has yet been made by the government to extend this scheme beyond November 2020.
The Covid 19 pandemic still exists and the uncertainty over livelihoods remains with unemployment at record levels. Currently foodgrain stocks in the country are at a record high, but people are facing the real possibility of hunger and starvation. The Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) is a much needed measure for 80 crore Indians listed under the NFSA and is assisting them in coping with the economic distress they are facing since the lockdown.
The migrant worker crisis has exposed the fragility of the country’s social security system and the lack of resilience among the working class to cope with economic shocks. Most migrant workers do not possess ration cards and therefore are unable to benefit from this PMGKAY scheme. To ensure that nobody is excluded from the PDS, it is essential to universalise it and allow everyone who needs rations to access them.
Further, the Prime Minister had on World Food Day, indicated that production and procurement of millets will be promoted. They have already been included in the National Food Security Act, 2013 but their distribution to states needs to be improved.
Estimates of available FCI stocks indicate that it is feasible to both universalise the PDS and simultaneously extend the PMGKAY for atleast another 6 months.
Activists, NGOs And women’s groups and civil society organisations have written personal emails in this regard to the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution – Shri Piyush Goyal and Finance Minister Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman.
*The following demands were raised in this letter :*
*- Extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (for at least for six months till May 2021), with the additional provision of edible oil and pulses to each household*
*- Universalise the public distribution system to support all persons especially migrants workers, homeless, sex workers, trans people and all vulnerable communities even without ration cards*
*- Expansion of the PDS to provide millets and other nutritious commodities*
*- Provide compensatory food security allowance to at least 100 million Indians who have been excluded from the NFSA since 2013 despite population growth, and all families with suspected starvation deaths*
*-State governments must also be provided additional foodgrains at subsidised prices to expand benefits.
* Peoples organisations , NGOs held physical protests in many locations across the state, while adhering to physical distancing norms of Covid 19. Online protests were also held on various social media platforms.
The Right to Food campaign and Anna Adhikar Abhiyan have jointly decided to strongly support the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee ( AIKSCC) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) call on 26th November to raise their collective demands on the occasion of Constitution Day.