Terming Covid-19 as the century's most disruptive and dangerous pandemic, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said on Saturday that the people across the southern state were in distress due to the huge loss it caused them since its outbreak in mid-March.
"The people of the state are in distress, as Covid-19 brought economic and social activities to a grinding halt and caused recession, job losses and revenue loss to the state government," lamented Yediyurappa in his address on the 74th Independence Day here.
The chief minister said that though the state government enforced a lockdown to prevent its spread in the early stages of its outbreak, economic and social activities came to a standstill.
"After realising that lockdown was not the solution to prevent the virus spread, we unlocked since June 1 to revive the economy and restore near normalcy by making wearing mask, washing hands and maintaining social distancing mandatory for all citizens," asserted Yediyurappa in his 30-minute I-Day speech in Kannada at the Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw parade ground in the city.
Noting that the communicable disease had impacted every sector, the chief minister said the pace of life that had slowed during the lockdown was slowly recovering.
"Though I too was infected by the infection, I have recovered. I would like to tell on this occasion that the people need not worry or be afraid of this infection," reiterated Yediyurappa.
Unfazed by the Covid challenge, the state government ensured that the migrant workers who returned to their villages from urban clusters had a job under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme since April.
"While fighting the pandemic, we have amended the Industrial Facilitation Act for ease of doing business for entrepreneurs and encourage industrial development across the state," said the chief minister in the address, that was telecast live on the state-run Doordarshan and all local news channels, as the public could not be at the venue due to a ban on large gatherings.
Besides encouraging youth to develop skills, the state government has amended the Land Reforms Act to enable non-farmers to buy agricultural land for growing foodgrains or set up agro-based and allied industries.
"We have created an opportunity for farmers and industrialists to benefit from purchasing agricultural lands directly. Many new projects have been unveiled to create jobs across the state, especially in rural areas," Yediyurappa said.
As part of its war against the virus, dedicated hospitals to treat Covid patients, fever clinics for testing, Covid care centres for the asymptomatic and quarantine facilities to identify and isolate the infected were set up across the state since April.
"Under Ayushman Bharat scheme, health cards were distributed to 1.31 crore people and health coverage was offered to 8.5 lakh beneficiaries at a cost of Rs 1,694 crore. We have taken steps to ensure quality healthcare for the people," claimed Yediyurappa.
The state government also announced in mid-May a Rs 3,187-crore relief package for migrant workers, daily-wage workers, farmers, those depending on floriculture, weavers, fishermen, construction workers, barbers, washermen, taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers and others in the unorganised sector.
"If people are not alert or careful, no amount of government action will yield result. Hence, I appeal to the people to wear face mask, maintain social distancing and follow the guidelines in this fight against the virus," said the chief minister.
Amid the pandemic in the state, the state government also conducted the SSLC exams and the Common Entrance Test in July.