Free food for migrant workers for next 2 months in Covid-19 package

In the second tranche of Covid-19 special package, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the migrant workers, farmers, street vendors and tribal people are in the focus under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. Sitharaman said, “Today’s initiatives focus on migrant workers, street vendors, small traders, self-employed people and small farmers.”

She announced a scheme for free foodgrain supply to all migrants for next two months. They will be given five kg wheat or rice per individuals, one kg of pulse, one kg of gram (chana) even if a migrant worker does not have a BPL card.

“We think there are 8 crore migrants who will get free food. The Centre will bear the cost. They will not be charged anything. The total cost of this scheme is estimated at Rs 3,500 crore. This will reach through the state governments. The state governments will be the implementing agencies,” Sitharaman said.

She unveiled “One Nation One Ration Card” scheme under which a migrant worker having a BPL card from any state will be applicable across the country. This will be done through ration card portability. She said this scheme will be implemented by March next year.

Under the special Covid-19 package, Sitharaman also unveiled an “affordable rental housing scheme” for the migrant workers. This will be done through PM Awas Yojana. New housing complexes could be developed by private players, whom the government will incentivise, Sitharaman said.

In an effort to respond to the criticism of the Modi government over the plight of migrants, Sitharaman listed out how the Centre has aided the states in providing food to migrant workers staying at various shelter homes and camps. She said aid worth over Rs 11,000 crore was extended to the states for providing three-times-a-day meals to migrant workers staying in camps.

Sitharaman said the Centre has taken measures to generate employment through MNREGA for migrant workers going back home from other states. She said over 14.62 crore persondays of employment have been generated till May 13 across 1.87 lakh gram panchayats.

She said up to 50 per cent more people have registered for work under MNREGA in May this year compared to same month in 2019. The minimum wage has been increased from Rs 188 to Rs 202.

The government is mulling over a common floor wage for uniformity in payment towards workers across states, the finance minister said. She said the government is in the process of defining who is a migrant worker.

Among the measures that the government is working includes the right of women professionals to work in night shifts.

She announced nine steps under the second tranche of Covid-19 package of which “three are related to migrant workers, two related to farmers, one related to street vendors and one related to employment generation in tribal dominated areas” among others.

Sitharaman said over 3 crore farmers, most of them marginal farmers, have already benefitted from loans worth Rs 4.22 lakh crore. They have been given loan moratorium for 12 months. They don’t need to pay premium during this period, Sitharaman said.

25 lakh new Kisan Credit Cards have been sanctioned with a loan limit of Rs 25,000 crore during the period of Covid-19 outbreak, the finance minister.

She further said that the government has given liquidity support to farmers and rural economy during Covid-19 period.

Source: India Today

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