TN CM announces Rs 1,000 to ration card holders, auto drivers,

assitance to migrant workers (Eds: Recasts, adds details) Chennai, Mar 24 (PTI) Seeking to provide succour for people whose livelihood has taken a hit due to preventive measures against coronavirus, the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday announced a Rs 3,280 crore special relief package, including Rs 1,000 each cash assistance to rice ration card holders, autorickshaw drivers and construction workers.

Under the plan covering vulnerable sections, people having 'rice' ration cards will get Rs 1,000 each while all card holders shall get essential commodities - rice, dhal, cooking oil and sugar - free of cost in April.

Also, autorickshaw drivers and construction workers will get a special assistance of Rs 1,000, Chief Minister K Planiswami told the state assembly, ahead of the state-wide lockown coming into force from 6 PM on Tuesday.

Considering the hardship faced by the people especially the marginalised sections, the relief has been announced, the Chief Minister said.

Registered pavement hawkers will also get Rs 1,000 assistance while people who have worked under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme this month will get two day additional special wages, he said.

Families of migrant labourers, construction workers and autrickshaw drivers will get 15 kilo rice, one kilo dhal and cooking oil for free.

Destitute people and elderly will get cooked food at their place of residence, he said.

Besides, 'Hot, quality food will continuously be provided in Amma Canteens,' the chief minister said.

To avoid crowding at Public Distribution System outlets, the relief will be disbursed 'through token system' at an appointed day and time.

Those who do not require the subsistence allowance may register online against getting it, he said, in apparent reference to several people holding ration cards but not been availing free rice and other items.

If card holders had missed their entitlement for March, they could get them along with April ration, he said.

Tamil Nadu will be under lockdown till March 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus and CrPC section 144 will be invoked for its implementation, Palaianiswami had said on Monday.

Barring essential and emergency services, public and private transportation, including cars, taxis, autos and buses, will not function, he has said.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the state has risen to 12 with thre more fresh cases being reported on Monday. One patient has recovered and discharged recently. PTI VGN VS VS