Under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS), the Centre is offers rice at Rs 22 per kg and wheat at Rs 21 per kg at present.
“I have written to all state chief ministers to lift foodgrains under the OMSS to meet the food requirement of non-NFSA families,” Paswan said in a statement.
The food ministry has already allowed activists and organisations to provide food relief to lockdown-affected people to buy foodgrains under the OMSS. Even state governments can take foodgrains under the OMSS to meet the food demand of the poor, he said.
A nationwide lockdown has been in place since March 24 to contain the spread of COVID-19 disease.
Stating that the government has enough food supplies in its godowns to meet the demand of the poor, Paswan said the state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) was having total 605.7 lakh tonne of foodgrains as on May 1, which include 275.7 lakh tonne of rice and 330 lakh tonne of wheat.
The monthly foodgrains requirement for PDS distribution under the NFSA and other welfare schemes is about 60 lakh tonne, he said.
Paswan said that the FCI has transported about 192 lakh tonne of foodgrains since lockdown imposed on March 24. Out of which, 126.12 lakh tonne was transported via road and sea route, the rest 65.4 lakh tonne via rail in 2334 rakes. About 5.63 lakh tonne was transported to the north eastern region in this period.
On free distribution of foodgrains and pulses under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana (PMGAY), Paswan said the requirement of foodgrains under this scheme is about 104.4 lakh tonne of rice and 15.6 lakh tonne of wheat.
Out of which, 56.7 lakh tonne of rice and 7.7 lakh tonne of wheat have been lifted by different states and union territories so far.
Six states such as Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi and Gujarat have distributed wheat, while other states have distributed rice under the PMGAY, he said. In case of pulses, about 5.82 lakh tonne is required for three months under the PMGAY, out of which 1.90 lakh tonnes have been dispatched so far. Of this, 1.15 lakh tonnes of pulses have reached states and 38,098 tonne have been distributed.
Under the PMGAY, the government is distributing 5 kg foodgrains per PDS beneficiary and one kg per household for three months to ensure no poor goes hungry during the lockdown. This is over and above the allocation under the NFSA.
The minister said the government had a buffer stock of 12.54 lakh tonne of pulses as on April 30.
This includes 5.16 lakh tonne of tur dal, 1.26 lakh tonne of moong, 2.55 lakh tonne of urad, 2.72 lakht onne of chana and 0.84 lakh tonne of masoor dal.
To keep prices of essential commodities under check, Paswan said the state governments have been given enough power to take action against hoarders and black marketeers under the Essential Commodities Act.