Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: To ensure sufficient supply during the Covid-19 lockdown, the government on Thursday decided to increase monthly quota of subsidized foodgrains by 2 kg to 7kg per person through ration shops for 80 crore beneficiaries.

A decision in this regard was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The government has decided to provide 7 kg per person of foodgrains to 80 crore people under the Public Distribution System (PDS), which the world's largest food security system," Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told media after the meeting.

The cost of wheat is Rs 27/kg, which will be provided at a subsidised rate of Rs 2 kg, while the cost of rice is about Rs 32/kg but will be supplied at Rs 3/kg through ration shops, he said.

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All states have been asked to take foodgrains from the Centre in advance for distribution through the PDS, he added.

Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the government is supplying 5 kg of foodgrains per month to over 80 crore people at a highly subsidised price.

The decision to allocate additional foodgrains through the PDS has been taken as state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) is saddled with wheat and rice stock. With some foodgrains stock kept in open space, the FCI is under pressure to clear stock before monsoon.

The Minister also informed that the Centre and state governments are working in tandem to prevent the spread of coronavirus and asked people not to panic amid countrywide lockdown.

The lockdown was imposed in the country from today and will be in force till April 14.

In a cabinet briefing, Javadekar requested people to stay at home, maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently and visit a doctor if the symptoms appear.

"The 21-day lockdown is important. Spend quality time with your family and do not resort to panic-buying. Essential items will be available throughout the country," he said.

"Cheap or free ration is being given out. It is the world's biggest food security system. This will be extended to three months," the Union minister added.

Likewise, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the recapitalisation of regional rural banks with a total outlay of Rs 1,340 crore, to improve their capital adequacy during the coronavirus crisis.

Briefing the media after the cabinet meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that out of the total approved Rs 1,340 crore, the Central government will infuse Rs 670 crore and the rest would be put in by the state government and other sponsoring banks.

"#CCEA approves recapitalisation of Regional Rural Banks to improve their Capital to Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio; approves utilisation of Rs 670 crore as Central Government share for the scheme," said a statement.

The decision comes a day after Modi announced a 21-day lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus infection. Businesses and normal life across the country are likely to suffer and concerns have been raised about the flow of liquidity during the crisis period.

The government has off late announced a slew of measures to provide relief to the general public and businesses in terms of regulatory compliances, including deferment of deadlines for IT and GST return filings.

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The government is also in the process of preparing an economic package to mitigate the impact of the crisis. On Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is also heading the COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force, said that the package would be announced soon.

About 539 cases of the deadly infection have been confirmed in India and 10 deaths have been reported so far.

(With agency inputs)