Today's Paper

Rs. 1.7 lakh cr. lockdown package rolled out

Rations doubled for three months; we do not want anyone to remain hungry: Nirmala Sitharaman

The Centre on Thursday announced a Rs. 1.7 lakh crore relief package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and countrywide lockdown, providing free food and cash transfers to support the poorest and most vulnerable citizens during the crisis.

Announcing the details, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the foodgrain rations for 80 crore poor people would be doubled for the next three months and supplemented by 1 kg of local pulses.

Cover for healthworkers

The Centre will provide Rs. 50 lakh medical insurance cover for the next three months for about 22 lakh health workers in government hospitals, including ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) staff, medical sanitary workers in government hospitals, paramedics, nurses and doctors.

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana had been announced within 36 hours of the lockdown and it would take care of the needs of poor and migrant workers, farmers, women, pensioners, widows and the disabled, said Ms. Sitharaman.

“We do not want anyone to remain hungry, so we will be giving enough to take care of their foodgrain requirement, protein requirement in terms of pulses. On the other hand, they should also not remain without money in hand, so several measures through DBT are being taken so that money reaches them,” she said.

More wheat, pulses

Over the next three months, each person who is covered under the National Food Security Act would get an additional 5 kg wheat or rice for free, in addition to the 5 kg of subsidised foodgrain already provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS). One kg of pulses a household would also be provided for free.

Cash transfers — a mix of advances via existing schemes and additional sums — would also be given to vulnerable groups under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

About three crore poor pensioners above 60 years, widows and disabled people would be given Rs. 1,000 in two instalments over the next three months. The 20 crore women holding Jan Dhan Yojana accounts would get Rs. 500 a month over the same period.

Wages were hiked under the MNREGA scheme from Rs. 182 to Rs. 202 a day. The Minister said this would provide an additional Rs. 2,000 per worker.

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