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Covid-19 relief: FM announces Rs 1.7 trn plan for poor, migrant workers

Package announced includes both food security and cash transfer components

BS Web Team & Agencies 

Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister on Thursday announced a relief package for the poor and migrant workers in the country in light of the 21-day lockdown in the country to tackle the challenge posed by the (Covid-19) pandemic. The Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan scheme worth Rs 1.7 trillion will have two parts — cash transfer and food security, said the Finance Minister. Covid-19 package to take care of the welfare concerns of the poor and migrant workers who have been suffering because of a nationwide lockdown The FM also announced a medical insurance scheme for health workers. This Rs 50 lakh per individual insurance plan would be applicable to all health workers that includes sanitation and ASHA workers, paramedics, doctors, nurses. Two million health workers will benefit from this scheme, informed the minister.

"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," the minister said.

"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 so that they can have money in their hands."

The PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme will have two components 1. The Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana: Under this plan, 800 million poor people in the country will get 5 kg of rice or wheat per month free of cost, in addition to the 5 kg they already get. In addition to rice or wheat, each household will get 1 kg of preferred dal for free for the next three months. 2. Cash transfer scheme:
  • Farmers will get the first instalment of the PM-KISAN payment of Rs 2,000 soon.

    This move will benefit 87 million farmers across the country.

  • MGNREGS: Wage increased from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day. This wage increase will benefit 50 million families, as their income will increase by nearly Rs 2,000
  • Poor widows, aged, and divyang: Ex-gratia transfer of Rs 1,000 for the next three months, in two instalments. 30 million people will benefit and the transfers will be done through direct benefits transfer (DBT)
  • Women with Jan Dhan Yojana accounts: 200 million such account holders will benefit from Rs 500 ex-gratia for the next three months.
  • Beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme: 80 million households benefitted from the gas cylinders provided under the scheme. These beneficiaries will get free cylinders for three months in view of the disruption the lockdown will cause.
  • Women in self-help groups: 6.3 million self help groups (SHGs) get up to Rs 10 lakh collateral-free loans under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya National Rural Mission scheme. The cap has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh. The move will benefit 70 million households.
  • Organised sector workers: The Government of India will pay the EPF contribution of both employee and employer for the next three months. This will be for all those establishments which have up to 100 employees, 90% of whom earn less than Rs 15,000 a month. This will benefit 400,000 such organisations and 8 million such employees. In what will benefit 8 million employees and 400,000 establishments, the EPFO regulation will be amended to allow the withdrawal of up to 75% of their corpus as non-refundable advance, or three months' salary, whichever is less
  • Construction workers: States have been directed to utilise the Rs 31,000 crore welfare fund for building and construction workers for the benefit of 35 million workers in the midst of the crisis.
  • District mineral fund: State govts to be urged to utilise this fund for medical screening, medical testing and providing health care services in the wake of the coronavirus crisis

First Published: Thu, March 26 2020. 13:40 IST