Urge centre to declare COVID-19 national disaster, demand Rs

50,000 cr package: Oppn Bengaluru,May 8 (PTI) Demanding that COVID-19 be declared a national disaster, opposition parties in Karnataka on Friday asked the state government to pressurise the Centre to provide it a Rs 50,000 crore pecial economic package to help those in distress due to the lockdown induced by the pandemic.

Raising questions about the Centre not giving Karnataka's share of PM CARES fund, leader of the opposition in the assembly, Siddaramaiah, urged the state to seek central aid to take steps aimed at increasing people's purchasing power A delegation of leaders of opposition parties and farmers organisations, headed by Siddaramaiah, met Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to discuss about COVID-19 and effect of the lockdown on the working class and also measures that can be taken to mitigate their distress.

Stating that people from various strata of society had met him and shared their concerns and it was his duty as the LoP to bring it to the government's notice, he said the situation would not have deteriorated had the centre taken adequate precautionary measures before enforcing the lockdown.

He said the government should have stopped flight services much before and facilities should have been provided for migrant workers.

'Corona should be declared as national disaster... there is over Rs 35,000 crore money in PM Cares.. not even a paise has come to the state. At least the Center should have given us the money that had gone from the state,' he was quoted as saying in a release by his office.

With no money, people will not have purchasing power, without which there will not be a demand in the market, Siddaramaiah said.

He quoted experts as having said that when there is purchasing power, financial activities will increase and keeping this in mind state should seek for central assistance.

Welcoming the Rs 1,610 crore relief package announced by the Chief Minister for those in distress due to the lockdown, he said several needy people have been kept out of its ambit.

He said the one time compensation of Rs 5,000 each announced for thousands of washermen, barbers, auto rickshaw and taxi drivers was inadequate and that the government should instead give them Rs 2000 per month until the lockdown ends.

Siddaramaiah also asked the state government to spend money available in various organisations for those affected.

Advising the government to conduct more corona tests, Siddaramaiah asked it to ensure that Personal Protective Equipment and testing kits are available at all districts.

He also asked the administration to take all precautionary preventive measures as expert doctors have predicted that infections may increase in June and July.

Demanding incentives for ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers, the former Chief Minister said a scientific survey has to be done on losses to flower, fruit and vegetable growers and compensation given accordingly.

People belonging to sections like goldsmiths, carpenters, cobblers, tailors and iron smiths should be considered under the package, he added.

The government on Wednesday had announced announced Rs 1,610 crore relief package for the benefit of those in distress due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

The measures announced by the Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa include compensation of Rs 5,000 each to thousands of washermen, barbers, auto rickshaw and taxi drivers, whose daily lives have been affected.

It also aims at providing relief to farmers, Rs 25,000/ha compensation for affected flower-growers, certain relaxation in electricity bills for MSMEs and large industries, deposit Rs 2,000 directly to the bank account of the handloom weaver, and Rs 3,000 to building workers through DBT.

The delegation also submitted a charter of demands to the CM, that includes demand for Rs 50,000 crore special economic package from the centre and various steps, including financial assistance or compensation aimed at mitigating trouble faced by those in distress due to the lockdown.

Later the Chief Minister's Office in a statement claimed that leaders of opposition parties complimented the steps taken by the government to control COVID-19 and extended full cooperation.

The Chief Minister listed out steps taken by the government, including announcing of Rs 1,610 crore relief package and assured the opposition that sections left out of the package will be consider in future, it added. PTI KSU APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH