The BS Yediyurappa government in Karnataka on Wednesday, May 19, announced a Rs 1,250 crore relief package for the state in view of the COVID-19 situation. In an official statement, the government said that under the COVID-19 relief package, it will disburse Rs 3,000 each for auto and taxi drivers and construction workers. The government has also announced Rs 2,000 for workers in the unorganized sector, like barbers, tailors, ragpickers, potters. The government has also announced Rs 10,000 per hectare for floriculture farmers under the relief package.
Along with the floriculture farmers, the government has announced that horticulture farmers will receive Rs 10,000 per hectare which will benefit approximately 69,000 farmers, the government stated. The government has also extended the deadline for the repayment of loans for the farmers until July 31, 2021.
As part of the COVID-19 relief package, the government has also announced Rs 2,000 for roadside and street vendors who have been registered under the Atma Nirbhar scheme. This will benefit a total of 2.2 lakh people who are eligible, the government said.
For registered auto, taxi and maxi cab drivers, the state government has announced Rs 3,000 per driver. The scheme will reach 210 lakh drivers, the government said. Construction workers registered under the Karnataka Workers Welfare Board are eligible for an aid of Rs 3,000 as well, and unorganised sector workers such as barbers, tailors, ragpickers etc will be given a remuneration of Rs 2,000. This will benefit 3.04 lakh persons working in this sector, according to the government.
Under the Kannada and Culture Department, artists and artist groups will be given Rs 3,000 each, and the amount will be disbursed to 16,095 beneficiaries under the COVID-19 relief package.
In accordance with the Union Governmentâ€™s scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the state government will be distributing five kgs of rice for free to people below the poverty line in the months of May and June. The beneficiaries will have to produce their ration cards to avail the free rice. Those who have applied for the ration cards but have not been issued one yet can also avail the scheme. The government said that this would benefit nearly 3.10 lakh beneficiaries. Additionally, the state government has recognised 10 lakh more people, who have not registered under the Union governmentâ€™s scheme, who will be given food grains for which the government has allocated a sum of Rs 180 crore.
Free lunch will be provided in Indira Canteens in the urban areas for the workers by the Department of Urban Development. The government estimates that this will benefit more than six lakh beneficiaries across the state.
The Karnataka government said it has spent around Rs 956 crore for treating those infected with COVID-19 so far, in the first and second wave. It also said that it has allocated Rs 1,000 crore to procure three crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate those between the ages of 18 and 44. To equip all parts of the state to combat the coronavirus, the government has disbursed an amount of Rs 50,000 each to 6,000 gram panchayats in advance.
"Our government had given financial packages to various sectors during the COVID first wave. Despite that, as the current restrictions have affected the livelihood of those with unorganised sector and farmers, to mitigate its impact we are announcing a relief programme of more than Rs 1,250 crore," Yediyurappa said. Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he said his government was announcing the package despite the state facing financial constraints, and is standing by the people during this difficult time.
"We have done the best we can within the current financial limitations, and will consider if any further needs to be done in the future," he said in response to a question.
The state government had initially announced 14 days "close down" from April 27, but subsequently imposed a complete lockdown from May 10 to May 24, as the COVID-19 cases continued to spike. With the current lockdown ending early next week, several leaders, including ministers, have expressed themselves in favour of extending it, to control the spread of the coronavirus.
(With PTI inputs)