Karnataka announces Rs 1,111 cr COVID-19 relief package

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Bengaluru: Amidst speculations about extending lockdown due to rising COVID cases in rural parts of the state, Karnataka government on Wednesday announced a relief package of Rs 1,111.82 crore for those in distress due to the Covid induced lockdown.

 Karnataka also announced plans to hire 2,150 doctors in the next three days to ramp-up its COVID treatment facilities across the state.

The COVID relief package, announced by Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa aims to bring relief to unorganised labour class and farmers, flower-growers, washermen, rag pickers, porters, low-wage labourers, tailors, barbers, housemaids, auto rickshaw and taxi drivers, weavers, construction workers and folk artists.

 Announcing the relief package here, Yediyurappa told media persons that the state government realises the need of a relief package as people from all sections of society are facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19.

“There is no respite from this dreaded virus, therefore, we are announcing this relief package second time since last May, 2020,” the CM said.

 He noted that farmers including flower growers are facing severe problems due to COVID induced lockdowns, shutdowns and other forms of severe restrictions enforced by the governments from time to time to contain the virus.

Karnataka announced compensation of Rs 10,000 per hectare to the maximum extent of one hectare for the flower, fruits and vegetable growers who have suffered loss, which will benefit 89,000 such growers in the state.

The state will provide one-time relief of Rs 3,000 to auto rickshaw drivers, taxi drivers, folk artists and construction labourers, while Rs 2,000 will be given to unorganised labourers like washermen, rag pickers, porters, low-wage labourers, tailors, barbers, housemaids, auto rickshaw and taxi drivers, weavers, construction workers and roadside vegetable vendors.

Apart from monetary benefits, Karnataka has also announced free ration up to five kgs of food grains and 10 kgs of food grains at subsidised rate of Rs 15 per kg which will be covering over 4.34 crore beneficiaries in the state at a sum of Rs 204 crore.

The state government had decided to distribute free food packets to over six lakh beneficiaries in Bengaluru through its network of 174 Indira Canteens and 15 kitchens until the lockdown enforced in the city is lifted.

Besides this, the government also decided to defer the payment of EMIs of short and medium term loans offered to farmers through co-operative sector banking that would benefit over 4.25 lakh farmers across the state.

 In a response to a question, the CM maintained that the government was also releasing Rs 50,000 each to all 6,000 gram panchayats under the provisions of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) as part of a contingency relief package to contain the spread of the virus.

 “We have set aside over Rs 30 crore for this purpose,” he said.