GUWAHATI: In a significant move to fortify food security, the Assam government, led by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, launched a transformative initiative in January 2024. The state embarked on a mission to provide free ration cards to an additional 42 lakh beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). This crucial expansion, inaugurated by Chief Minister Sarma in his constituency, Jalukbari, marks a substantial step in the state's commitment to ensuring citizens' access to sufficient food.
Taking to his X handle, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma wrote, "January has been a special month for the people of Assam. Over 42 lakh people have secured access to free ration, free healthcare & subsidised cooking gas through extensive Ration Card distribution programmes across the State. We envisage ration card as a Laxman Rekha that will ensure households do not get trapped by poverty. By 2026 we aim to bring all ration card holders under the Orunodoi scheme. This month we also achieved near saturation of free ration distribution under our Anna Sewa se Jan Sewa effort. 1.2 lakh MT of rice reached over 60 lakh people."
The distribution event, held under the "Anna Sewa se Jan Sewa" effort, became a pivotal moment, reaching near-saturation with 1.2 lakh metric tonnes of rice distributed to over 60 lakh people. The new beneficiaries are expected to extend the NFSA's reach to an additional 10,73,479 households in Assam.
Under the new provisions, each family member entitled to the ration card receives 5 kilograms of rice every month during the "anna sewa saptah." This initiative not only focuses on food security but also integrates health coverage, providing beneficiaries with a health cover of Rs 5 lakh in government hospitals and designated nursing homes. The income limit for ration card eligibility has been raised from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4 lakh, widening the scheme's impact.
Chief Minister Sarma emphasized the government's commitment to social-sector schemes, including the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, designed to benefit the disadvantaged sections of society. The comprehensive approach extends beyond food security, encompassing other government initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Ayushman Bharat, and Ayushman Asom healthcare schemes. Plans are in motion to provide life and accidental insurance coverage for ration cardholders, reinforcing the state's dedication to improving residents' living standards.