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States announce relief measures; Centre still mum on economic aid for Covid-19

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said an economic package would be announced “as soon as possible”

Priyanka Kavish 24 Mar 2020

corona virusImage: Bloomberg

While the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is yet to announce an economic aid package to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak in India, state governments have swung into action with Uttar Pradesh being the first state to announce that around 35 lakh labourers in the state would get Rs. 1,000 each in a monthly “maintenance allowance” and free ration for a month would be given to 1.67 crore construction workers. The same would put a burden of Rs. 150 crore on the state exchequer, the government estimated, The Indian Express reported.

The decision was taken after a high-level committee chaired by State Finance Minister Suresh Khanna who said that there were 20.37 such labourers who would be given the Rs. 1000 per month through direct benefit transfer. The government also asked the Urban Development Department to make a database of the 15 lakh vendors, rickshaw-pullers, etc. who earn their livelihood in local markets for them to avail the allotted financial aid.

Apart from this, the government also ordered pension under different categories like widow pension, old-age pension for the nearly 83 lakh beneficiaries for two months.

“Instructions have been given to clear all the dues of MGNREGA workers. Along with this, all the Antyodaya card holders, MGNREGA card holders, construction workers registered with the labour department and daily workers, would be immediately given one month long food grains. These amount to 1 crore, 65 lakh and 31 thousand in the state” said Adityanath.

Kerala

The Kerala government was the first to announce a financial aid package of Rs. 20,000 crore to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, with Rs. 500 crore being allotted for health and Rs. 2,000 crore being allotted for loans and free ration.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said, “Without differentiating families based on Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) cards, everyone will be given free rice. APL families will be given a total of 10 kg cereals. For this Rs. 100 crore has been allotted.”

He also announced that Rs. 2000 crore would be disbursed to families in need and social security pensions scheduled for April would be advanced and distributed in March itself to about 50 lakh people across the state. Those who do not receive pension would be given Rs. 1,000 each.

Around 1,000 low-cost food outlets where meals would be available for Rs. 20 would begin in April and it must be noted that the government delivered midday meals to people’s homes as 26,000 children under the midday meal scheme in 33,115 anganwadis were affected by the closure.

Telangana

Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao announced that one month’s ration would be disbursed to those with white ration cards (88 lakh people) and 12 kg of rice would be given to each person. Rs. 1,500 would also be given to each family as financial assistance for buying essential times and over Rs. 2,417 crore would be sanctioned by the State for the same.

It also ordered that construction companies should pay their workers’ wages for the week.

New Delhi

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced pension, free ration and food for those afflicted by poverty as measures to reduce the stress on people during the Covid-19 outbreak. He said that Rs. 4,000 – 5000 pension would be paid to 8.5 lakh beneficiaries by April 7, 2020 and free ration with more than 50 percent of the normal quantity would be disbursed to 72 lakh beneficiaries.

Lunch and dinner would be served free of cost to those at Delhi government night shelters.

Odisha

The Odisha government has decided to distribute rice, wheat and kerosene to the 3.26 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and 4.50 lakh beneficiaries of the State Food Security Scheme for three months in advance to help them tide by the Covid-19 outbreak, Hindustan Times reported.

It has sanctioned Rs. 225 crore from the state disaster respond fund to deal with measures like developing quarantine units, accommodation, food and medical care, setting up of labs and procurement of essential equipment.

The beneficiaries have been given a 45-day window from April 1 to May 15 to collect the foodgrains to avoid rush at the fair-price shops. For the same, the government is set to spend Rs. 96 crore. CM Naveen Patnaik has sought the Centre’s help for NREGS workers, farmers, construction workers and demanded that NREGS workers be paid wages of at least 50 days in advance. He also sought additional installments for farmers under the Centre’s income support scheme called PM Kisan.

The state has also announced the distribution of old-age pensions four months in advance to ensure that the elderly have availability of cash during the crisis.

Bihar

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar too announced a relief package for people under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the government, families who possess ration cards will be given free ration for a month along with Rs. 1,000. All pensioners would be provided 3 months pension in advance to cover medical and other costs.

Health workers are also set to get an additional basic salary of one month as an incentive measure.

West Bengal

The West Bengal government announced that amid the Covid-19 outbreak, people who were getting rice and wheat at subsidized rates would now get a maximum of five kilos for free for the next six months. This is set to benefit 7.85 crore people in the state.  

Punjab

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh announced a package of Rs. 3,000 each for all registered 318,000 construction workers in the state. The same would be transferred to their bank accounts starting Monday, March 23, 2020. A total of Rs. 96 crore would be used for this purpose.

Rs. 20 crore has been sanctioned from the CM’s relief fund for relief measures like giving free food, shelter and medicines to those in need.

While more states are in the process of announcing measures, the Centre is yet to announce a relief package for the country. Three days ago, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the economic package would be announced “as soon as possible” without giving a deadline for the announcement.


Related:

Doctors need more protective gear now, before COVID-19 cases explode

Indian-made Coronavirus test kits not good enough?

States announce relief measures; Centre still mum on economic aid for Covid-19

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said an economic package would be announced “as soon as possible”

corona virusImage: Bloomberg

While the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is yet to announce an economic aid package to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak in India, state governments have swung into action with Uttar Pradesh being the first state to announce that around 35 lakh labourers in the state would get Rs. 1,000 each in a monthly “maintenance allowance” and free ration for a month would be given to 1.67 crore construction workers. The same would put a burden of Rs. 150 crore on the state exchequer, the government estimated, The Indian Express reported.

The decision was taken after a high-level committee chaired by State Finance Minister Suresh Khanna who said that there were 20.37 such labourers who would be given the Rs. 1000 per month through direct benefit transfer. The government also asked the Urban Development Department to make a database of the 15 lakh vendors, rickshaw-pullers, etc. who earn their livelihood in local markets for them to avail the allotted financial aid.

Apart from this, the government also ordered pension under different categories like widow pension, old-age pension for the nearly 83 lakh beneficiaries for two months.

“Instructions have been given to clear all the dues of MGNREGA workers. Along with this, all the Antyodaya card holders, MGNREGA card holders, construction workers registered with the labour department and daily workers, would be immediately given one month long food grains. These amount to 1 crore, 65 lakh and 31 thousand in the state” said Adityanath.

Kerala

The Kerala government was the first to announce a financial aid package of Rs. 20,000 crore to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, with Rs. 500 crore being allotted for health and Rs. 2,000 crore being allotted for loans and free ration.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said, “Without differentiating families based on Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) cards, everyone will be given free rice. APL families will be given a total of 10 kg cereals. For this Rs. 100 crore has been allotted.”

He also announced that Rs. 2000 crore would be disbursed to families in need and social security pensions scheduled for April would be advanced and distributed in March itself to about 50 lakh people across the state. Those who do not receive pension would be given Rs. 1,000 each.

Around 1,000 low-cost food outlets where meals would be available for Rs. 20 would begin in April and it must be noted that the government delivered midday meals to people’s homes as 26,000 children under the midday meal scheme in 33,115 anganwadis were affected by the closure.

Telangana

Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao announced that one month’s ration would be disbursed to those with white ration cards (88 lakh people) and 12 kg of rice would be given to each person. Rs. 1,500 would also be given to each family as financial assistance for buying essential times and over Rs. 2,417 crore would be sanctioned by the State for the same.

It also ordered that construction companies should pay their workers’ wages for the week.

New Delhi

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced pension, free ration and food for those afflicted by poverty as measures to reduce the stress on people during the Covid-19 outbreak. He said that Rs. 4,000 – 5000 pension would be paid to 8.5 lakh beneficiaries by April 7, 2020 and free ration with more than 50 percent of the normal quantity would be disbursed to 72 lakh beneficiaries.

Lunch and dinner would be served free of cost to those at Delhi government night shelters.

Odisha

The Odisha government has decided to distribute rice, wheat and kerosene to the 3.26 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and 4.50 lakh beneficiaries of the State Food Security Scheme for three months in advance to help them tide by the Covid-19 outbreak, Hindustan Times reported.

It has sanctioned Rs. 225 crore from the state disaster respond fund to deal with measures like developing quarantine units, accommodation, food and medical care, setting up of labs and procurement of essential equipment.

The beneficiaries have been given a 45-day window from April 1 to May 15 to collect the foodgrains to avoid rush at the fair-price shops. For the same, the government is set to spend Rs. 96 crore. CM Naveen Patnaik has sought the Centre’s help for NREGS workers, farmers, construction workers and demanded that NREGS workers be paid wages of at least 50 days in advance. He also sought additional installments for farmers under the Centre’s income support scheme called PM Kisan.

The state has also announced the distribution of old-age pensions four months in advance to ensure that the elderly have availability of cash during the crisis.

Bihar

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar too announced a relief package for people under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the government, families who possess ration cards will be given free ration for a month along with Rs. 1,000. All pensioners would be provided 3 months pension in advance to cover medical and other costs.

Health workers are also set to get an additional basic salary of one month as an incentive measure.

West Bengal

The West Bengal government announced that amid the Covid-19 outbreak, people who were getting rice and wheat at subsidized rates would now get a maximum of five kilos for free for the next six months. This is set to benefit 7.85 crore people in the state.  

Punjab

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh announced a package of Rs. 3,000 each for all registered 318,000 construction workers in the state. The same would be transferred to their bank accounts starting Monday, March 23, 2020. A total of Rs. 96 crore would be used for this purpose.

Rs. 20 crore has been sanctioned from the CM’s relief fund for relief measures like giving free food, shelter and medicines to those in need.

While more states are in the process of announcing measures, the Centre is yet to announce a relief package for the country. Three days ago, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the economic package would be announced “as soon as possible” without giving a deadline for the announcement.


Related:

Doctors need more protective gear now, before COVID-19 cases explode

Indian-made Coronavirus test kits not good enough?

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