New Delhi: The central government has decided to resume providing free food grains to the poor in May and June to help them tide over the economic hardship in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said on Friday. The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) was announced in 2020 for three months till July and later extended till November to combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor.Also Read - Rahul Gandhi Blames Centre For COVID Deaths Due To Lack Of Oxygen, ICU Beds

“We will provide 5-kg additional food grains for free to PDS beneficiaries under the PMGKAY for two months — May and June. This time, we are not providing pulses under this scheme,” Food and Public Distribution secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said. Also Read - Kejriwal Used PM-CM Conference as Platform to Play politics: Centre After Delhi CM's Televised Appeal

Under the scheme, additional 5 kg wheat and rice along with 1 kg pulses to each family per month was provided to beneficiaries registered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). But this year, only grains will be given. Also Read - Delhi Govt To Revive Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre at Chattarpur, 500 Oxygenated Beds To Be Made Operational Soon

Free grains — which will be distributed on the same pattern as earlier — will be given to 80 crore beneficiaries. The free grains will be over and above the monthly entitlement under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), he said.

About 80 lakh tonne of food grains will be required to meet the demand for two months. The move, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to the poor, will cost the exchequer over Rs 26,000 crore, including on account of interstate transportation of food grains, he added.

PM Modi stressed that it is important that the poor have nutritional support when the country is facing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, they said.

The PMGKAY is being re-implemented amid a second wave of the pandemic amid demand from Rajasthan, Kerala, Uttarakhand governments as well as from MPs including NCP chief Sharad Pawar and TMC leader Saugata Roy.

Under the PMGKAY last year, over 200 lakh tonne of free food grains were provided amounting to a fiscal outgo of over Rs 75,000 crore, covering 80.96 crores NFSA beneficiaries.

(With inputs from PTI)