Karnataka govt announces Rs 1,250 cr package to those hit by COVID-19 lockdown

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(Eds: Updates with more details) Bengaluru, May 19 (PTI) As Karnataka is battling the second wave of the pandemic, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday announced a over Rs 1,250 crore financial package, to provide relief for those whose livelihood has been affected by COVID-19 induced lockdown.

He also said a decision will be taken on extending the current lockdown, a day ahead of it coming to an end on May 24.

'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 in unorganised sector and farmers, to mitigate its impact, we are announcing a relief programme of over Rs 1,250 crore,' Yediyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said the 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 anything 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 total lockdown from May 10 to 24, as COVID cases continued to spike.

With the current lockdown ending early next week, several leaders have expressed themselves in favour of extending it, to control the spread of COVID.

The CM said the relief amount will be deposited in the bank accounts of the beneficiaries, and honest efforts will be made to ensure that the money reaches them immediately.

'I have given instructions to disburse the amount immediately, and there is no shortage of funds for this.' he said.

Yediyurappa on Wednesday held a meeting with senior ministers of his cabinet and officials, ahead of announcing the package at a press conference.

Listing the details of the relief package, the Chief Minister said Rs 10,000 relief will be given to flower growers for per hectare loss. It will benefit about 20,000 farmers and may cost Rs 12.73 crore.

For the losses suffered by fruit and vegetable growers, Rs 10,000 per hectare financial relief will be given, limiting it to one hectare, he said.

This will benefit about 69,000 farmers and may cost Rs 69 crore.

A sum of Rs 3,000 each relief will be given to auto, taxi and maxi cab drivers who have licence and have registered, benefiting nearly 2.10 lakh beneficiaries and it may cost Rs 63 crore, he added.

Yediyurappa further said Rs 3,000 each will be provided to labourers who have registered with Karnataka Building And Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, costing Rs 494 crore.

He said Rs 2,000 each will be given to those under unorganised sector like barbers, washermen, tailor, ragpickers, household workers, cobblers, among others, benefiting 3.04 lakh people, and will cost about Rs 60.89 crore.

Roadside vendors, those registered under 'Aatmanirbhar' package will be given Rs 2,000 each, he said adding that it will benefit about 2.20 lakh people and cost Rs 44 crore.

Also artists and art teams will be given Rs 3,000 each, benefiting 16,095 benificiers and will cost Rs 4.82 crore.

Yediyurappa said the date of repayment of instalments of small, medium and long term loans availed by farmers, self help groups from Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) and land development banks beginning from May 1, 2020 has been extended up to July 31, 2021, benefiting 4.25 lakh farmers and may cost Rs 134.38 crore for the government as it will bear the interest amount.

Under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, BPL and Antyodaya card holders are being given 5 kgs of free rice for the months of May and June, and additionally the state government is providing the benefits of this scheme to about 30 lakh beneficiaries, costing it Rs 180 crore.

Those who have applied for the ration cards and not received it, will also be given food grains, 10 kgs at free of cost for BPL applicants and 10 kgs costing Rs 15 per kg for APL applicants, he said.

This will benefit a total of 3.10 lakh applicants, and will cost about Rs 24 crore.

To help the poor and labourers in Bengaluru and urban areas, the government is providing food free of cost through Indira Canteens, he said adding, this is benefiting over six lakh beneficiaries, and is costing about Rs 25 crore.

Noting that free treatment is being given to COVID infected at government designated hospitals, the CM said so far a total of 2.06 lakh infected have been treated from both first and the second wave, and has cost over Rs 956 crore.

It is intended to provide free vaccination to those between 18-45 years of age, he said adding orders have already been issued to procure three crore doses and Rs 1,000 crore is being spent on it.

The government has also decided to consider linemen, gas cylinder distribution workers and teachers as frontline workers and to vaccinate them on priority.

Opposition Congress and JD(S) have been urging the state government to provide relief, including financial and food, and come to the rescue of those whose livelihood has been affected by the COVID-19 induced shutdown. PTI KSU RS ROH ROH

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