June 30, 2020 / 11:06 AM / 2 months ago

Modi extends free foodgrain program for poor battling coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: People watch Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on TV screens inside a showroom in Ahmedabad, India, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Amit Dave

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The Indian government will extend a free foodgrain distribution scheme for 800 million people amid the ongoing pandemic until the end of November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national address on Tuesday.

Modi said thousands of lives have been saved because of the nationwide lockdowns in place since March 25 and urged citizens to continue to follow social distancing norms as the country restarts economic activity.

Modi said the foodgrain scheme will cost the government an additional 900 billion Indian rupees ($11.91 billion), taking the total spend on the same to 1.5 trillion rupees.

($1 = 75.5571 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Devjyot Ghosal and Aftab Ahmed; Writing by Swati Bhat; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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