Rest of Asia

Covid in India: Modi announces free food grains for 800 million people till November

ANI/New Delhi
Filed on June 7, 2021
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the nation. — ANI

The scheme introduced during the lockdown last year to continue till Diwali

The Indian government has decided to extend the scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, through which food grains are distributed to the needy till Diwali this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Monday.

Over 800 million people in the country will receive free food grains now till Diwali (November) under the scheme, which was launched last year during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

“During this pandemic, the government is with the poor. Over 800 million of our population will get ration till November. Nobody should sleep hungry,” PM Modi said on Monday in his address to the nation.

“Last year, when we had to impose lockdown due to Covid-19, then under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, the country planned to give free ration to over 80 crore citizens in eight months. This year as well, due to the second wave, it was planned for May and June,” the prime minister said.

The prime minister also announced a centralised vaccine drive in the country, where all Covid-19 vaccines will be procured by the Centre and given to states for free.

“As much as 25 per cent of vaccination work with states will now be handled by the Centre, it will be implemented in the coming two weeks. Both the states and centre to work as per new guidelines in the coming two weeks. From June 21, the free vaccine will be available for people above 18 years,” he said.

PM Modi said that people would have to follow protocols to defeat an ‘invisible’, ‘form-changing’ enemy like the coronavirus.

Speaking on India’s vaccination coverage, he said: “If you look at the history of 50-60 years, you would notice that it used to take India decades to procure help from foreign countries. When the vaccine work had ended in foreign countries, even then vaccination could not start in our country. In 2014, India’s vaccination coverage was around 60 per cent. In our vision, this was a worrisome issue.

“The speed at which India’s vaccination programme was progressing, it would have taken 40 years to complete the target of vaccination coverage,” he further said.

He also announced that the process of procuring Covid-19 vaccines from abroad has been expedited and that the trials of two vaccines for children are also under way. The prime minister said that research is being conducted for a nasal Covid vaccine in the country.

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