The opposition Congress in Karnataka on Friday urged the state government to ensure a relief package for all COVID-19 affected people in the state, who are reeling under the fallout of the pandemic's second wave across the state. "Instead of making loud announcements and tall claims, the BJP government should deliver and provide relief to all sections of people affected by Covid," state Congress leaders Krishna Byregowda, Priyank Kharge and Rizwan Arshad told reporters at a joint news conference in Bengaluru.
Reacting to the Rs 1,111 crore economic relief package which Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had announced on May 19, the Congress leaders said though 50 per cent of the 7-crore population in the state are farmers, the package would serve only 8,90,000 among them, leaving the remaining in lurch.
"Similarly, the relief aid will benefit only 2.1 lakh auto drivers, while the state has about 20 lakh auto-rickshaw owners. Last year too, though the Chief Minister announced Rs 5,000 each to 7.75 lakh auto and taxi drivers, only 2.14 lakh of them received the compensation," claimed Priyank Kharge, the son of Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge.
Likewise, the package covers only 3 lakh artisans, traditional craft practitioners and workers in the unorganized sector instead of 50 lakh of them who will be left to fend for themselves, the Congress said.
"The package is an eyewash, as it benefits only 5-10 percent of the affected families. It is the moral and social responsibility of the government to help all the people who lost their livelihood due to the COVID-19-induced extended lockdown," said Arshad.
The package offers Rs 2,000 each to 2.2 lakh street vendors, while lakhs of them depend on roadside business across the state, he added. "In contrast, the Tamil Nadu government is giving Rs 4,000 each to 2.07 crore rice-card holding families at a cost of Rs 8,368 crore," said Byregowda. The newly-elected LDF government in Kerala declared a Rs 20,000 crore relief package for its distressed people, the leaders pointed out.
"The Andhra Pradesh government is providing Rs 10,000 to drivers, Rs 5,000 to workers in various categories and Rs 15,000 to self-employed women. A state like Andhra with fewer resources than Karnataka is giving more relief to the affected people. What's stopping the state government," asked Priyank Kharge.
The opposition lawmakers urged Yediyurappa to credit Rs 10,000 into the bank accounts of every BPL (below poverty line) family across the state. Referring to a similar package the Chief Minister had announced in May 2020 during the pandemic's first wave, Arshad said though Rs 137 crore was promised to horticulture farmers, only Rs 58 crore has been paid so far.
"While Rs 31 crore was announced for floriculture farmers, only Rs 15 crore was paid to a section of them. Rs 5,000 was promised to 2.3 lakh Savitha Samaja families. But only 55,466 families were paid till date," alleged Byregowda. Of the 16.48 lakh construction workers who were promised Rs 5,000 each, 5 lakh are yet to get the amount, he said.
"Though 1,25,000 weavers were assured Rs 2,000 each, only 49,745 of them have been paid so far," added Priyank Kharge.