Sukhbir seeks financial aid for kin of COVID-19 victims

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Chandigarh, May 16 (PTI) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday asked Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to recognise the 'humanitarian crisis' unfolding in Punjab due to the pandemic and take immediate relief measures, including providing financial aid to those who have lost their kin to COVID-19.

Badal demanded Rs two lakh compensation to families who have lost their members to COVID-19, a monthly pension of Rs 6,000 to those left orphaned in the pandemic and a monthly cash assistance of Rs 6,000 to poor families for a period of six months.

Asking the chief minister to spare a thought for those who had been hit by COVID-19 as well as the impact of the lockdown on the poor, skilled workers and traders, the SAD president said, 'It is heart wrenching that the government has done nothing by way of giving relief to any section of society for more than one year despite claiming to have spent Rs 1,100 crore on Covid care.' 'I appeal to the chief minister to mitigate the sufferings of various sections of society which have been worst hit by the pandemic on an urgent basis or else we will witness another tragedy unfolding before our eyes,' he said.

Badal, in a statement here, said the Congress government should immediately announce a financial assistance of Rs two lakh to all families who had lost their earning members.

He said simultaneously a monthly pension of Rs 6,000 per month should be provided to Covid orphans till they attained the age of maturity. 'Such children should also be offered free education up to post graduation level,' he added.

Asserting that it was unfortunate that the chief minister had failed to give any relief to people who were being fleeced at the hands of private hospitals, Badal said, 'It has already been pointed out how private hospitals are charging Rs 2.50 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for Covid treatment. Similarly there is a free for all as far as life saving drugs and injections are concerned.' He said it was high time that the government moved in and provided relief to the common man. 'The government should bear the entire cost of treatment for patients with an annual income of less than Rs 10 lakh in private hospitals,' he said.

Badal said poor families were the hardest hit due to the continued lockdown in the state.

He said the government should provide monthly cash assistance of Rs 6,000 to all BPL families for a period of six months to help them tide through the crisis.

He said taxi and auto owners should also be given an allowance of Rs 6,000 per month for the next six months.

He said the compensation for COVID-19-infected registered labourers should be increased to Rs 3,000 from the present Rs 1,500 and in case any member of their family was infected the compensation should be increased to Rs 5,000 instead of the present Rs 3,000.

He said it was unfortunate that even the meagre compensation amounts announced for registered labourers by the government had not been processed till now.

The SAD president also stressed the need to provide debt and other interim relief to traders and industrialists.

He said the periodical lockdowns imposed by the state had dealt a crushing blow to trade and industry.

'The government should provide a short-term interest subsidy to this sector to allow traders and industrialists to meet their operational expenses. This sector should also be provided free power for a period of four months to compensate for the losses suffered by them during this difficult phase,' he said.

Badal also requested the chief minister to give relief to the common man by waiving power and water bills. PTI VSD SMN SMN