Lockdown: Govt to provide 5 kg grains, 1 kg pulses for free over next 3 months for the poor

New Delhi, March 26: The government on Thursday announced a Rs 1,70,000 crore package for the next three months for the vulnerable sections of the population.

Bundled under the PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme, the Covid relief package comprises cash transfers as well as food security which would be implemented from April 1, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here.

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Asked if there would be more such packages for other vulnerable classes, Sitharaman said this was the government’s first response within 36 hours of the lockdown. “At this moment, we reach out to the poorest of the poor. We will obviously think about the other things,’’ she added.

Earlier, Sitharaman had relaxed compliance requirements relating to direct and indirect taxes and life and health insurance policies to address the Covid-related disturbances.

Sitharaman said the government would deliberate on ameliorating problems faced by people who are enduring wage cuts or had to pay EMIs while they had been asked to stay at home without salaries.

The government has decided to provide a temporary three-month insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh for all frontline Covid health staff, including doctors, paramedics and health care workers.

In food security, Sitharaman said 80 crore people would get free 5 kg wheat or rice over and above the existing allotment and 1 kg of preferred pulses every month for the next three months. “We don’t want anyone to remain hungry. We will be giving enough to take care of requirement of grains. They should also not remain without money in their hands,’’ she explained.

For farmers, the Government has decided to front-load Rs 2,000 paid to 8.69 crore farmers in first week of April under the existing PM Kisan Yojana. MNREGA wages will be increased to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 5 crore families with an expected wage increase of about Rs 2,000 per worker. Ex gratia of Rs 1,000 in two instalments will be given to three crore poor senior citizens, poor widows and poor disabled. As many as 20 crore women Jan Dhan Account holders will get Rs 500 per month for the next three months to help them run their households.

Ujjwala beneficiaries will be given free LPG cylinders for the next three months which will benefit 8.3 crore BPL families. Collateral-free loan will be doubled to Rs 20 lakh to 63 lakh women self-help groups, impacting 7 crore households.

States have been asked to utilise Rs 31,000 crore with Construction Welfare Fund for 3.5 crore registered construction workers.

HIGHLIGHTS:

*Economic stimulus finalised to deal with impact of corona lockdown, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman.

*Rs 50 lakh per person insurance cover for doctors, paramedic, healthcare workers dealing with coronavirus outbreak

*80 cr poor people will get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months

*FM announces Rs 1.7 lakh crore Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan scheme to help the needy

*Govt to front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in first week of April under existing PM Kishan Yojana to benefit 8.69 cr farmers

*FM announces increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 5 crore families 

*FM announces an ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to 3 cr poor senior citizen, poor widows and poor disabled

*20 cr women Jan Dhan Account holders to get Rs 500 per month for next three months to help them run their households

*Ujjwala beneficiaries to get free cooking gas (LPG) cylinders in next three months; this will benefit 8.3 crore BPL families

*Collateral-free loan doubled to Rs 20 lakh to 63 lakh women self-help groups; to impact 7 crore households  

*Govt to pay employee, employer contribution to PF for 3 months for establishment with 90 pc of staff with Rs 15,000 wage

*Workers to be allowed to draw non-refundable advance of 75 pc from credit in PF a/c or 3 months salary, whichever is lower

Rs 1.7 lakh crore economic package will be implemented with immediate effect; cash doles from April 1

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