Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced free distribution of 5 kg food grains and 1 kg 'chana' for next two months to approximately 8 crore migrants who do not have either central or state ration cards.
Announcing the second tranche of the economic package, she said about Rs 3,500 crore will be spent towards this initiative.
The central government will fully bear the cost, while state governments will be responsible for implementation and identification of migrants for distribution of dry ration, she told the media.
"This government is concerned about migrants. Even today, we see migrants walking with their children, and carrying bags...," Sitharaman said.
Migrants who are neither covered under the National Food Security Act nor are state ration card beneficiaries will be provided 5 kg of grains per person and one kg of chana (gram) per family for two months, she said.
Currently, free 5 kg foodgrains per person and one kg pulses per household is being given for three months till June to PDS (ration )card holders under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana, benefitting over 80 crore poor.
This is over and above the 5 kg grains given at a subsidised rate to per beneficiary under NFSA.
For those migrants walking on foot, the minister said that cooked meals are being provided by state governments. They are allowed to buy foodgrains on credit from the central pool at a subsidised rate for this purpose, she said.
Even NGOs and charitable bodies engaged in serving cooked meals to migrants are allowed to buy at a reduced rate of Rs 24 per kg for wheat and Rs 22 per kg for rice from the central government, she added.
Sitharaman also noted that giving dry ration to those walking on roads will serve no purpose.
The finance minister also clarified that the total number of migrants at 8 crore has been arrived at by counting those living in shelter camps by state governments.
"Many have returned, we don't know the actual number. The number I quoted today is summed up by the states and a provision has been made accordingly," she said.
Besides, the minister said the government will make ration cards portable under the initiative 'One Nation, One Ration Card' to allow migrant workers to access their ration across the country.
"This will enable migrant beneficiaries to access PDS grains from any fair price shop in the country. About 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states covering 83 per cent of the PDS population will be covered by national portability by August 2020," she said.
She further said 100 per cent national portability will be achieved by March 2021.
All states and union territories will complete full FPS automation by March 2021, she added.
Already 17 states/UTs are ready with FPS automation. These include Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand, Tripura, Bihar, UP, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Daman and Diu.
Under the initiative, eligible beneficiaries under NFSA would be able to avail their entitled foodgrains from any fair price shop in the country using the same ration card.