Govt announces relief to the stressed BPL & other sections of society due to nationwide lockdown

Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday, March 26 announced a Rs 1.7 trillion economic stimulus plan that will be released through direct cash transfers and food security measures for giving relief to the poor impacted by the nationwide lockdown scheduled to continue till April 14 to contain spread of COVID-19. The cash support includes payments to farmers, free cooking gas to the poor for three months, state-sponsored contributions to retirement funds for the same duration and insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to medical workers, she said at a press conference in Delhi. Under the package, there will be distribution of 5 kg of wheat or rice and one kg of preferred pulses free-of-cost every month over the next three months to 80 crore poor across the country .As many of 20.5 crore women Jan Dhan Account holders will get Rs 500 per month for next three months to run their households. For poor senior citizens, widow and disabled will get ex-gratia of Rs 1,000. Also, the daily wage under MNREGA has been increased to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 5 crore rural people. The FM said the government will front-load Rs 2,000 payment to farmers in the first week of April under the existing PM Kishan Yojana to benefit 8.69 crore farmers. The beneficiaries of Ujjwala LPG scheme will get free cooking gas for the next three months, she said. In the  meantime, the government has asked all automakers to utilise their manufacturing facilities to produce ventilators and other medical gear required to fight corona virus pandemic (COVID-19). Anand Mahindra-led Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is believed to be in the final stage of discussions with Bangalore-based ventilator exporter Skanray Technologies. Tata group, through Tata Motors, is also in last-minute negotiations with a Mysuru-based manufacturer to ramp up ventilator manufacturing. In a communication to major automobile sector the Ministry of Heavy Industries has asked them to explore using their manufacturing facilities and manpower to produce ventilators. Citing sources. The Business Standard says that the communication was issued after a joint meeting of the top four companies — Maruti Suzuki, M&M, Tata Motors and Hyundai.

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