Coronavirus Outbreak: Kerala Announces Rs 20,000 Crore Relief Package, Free Rice For All

In a major move, the Kerala government will also provide free rice to everyone, regardless of their economic status, for one month.

20 March 2020 10:42 AM GMT
Editor : Shweta Kothari | By : Reethu Ravi
Coronavirus Outbreak: Kerala Announces Rs 20,000 Crore Relief Package, Free Rice For All

As India grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on Thursday, March 19, announced a financial package worth Rs 20,000 crore.

The money, aimed as a relief to the state's economy that has taken a hit, would be used to cover health packages, loan assistance, welfare pensions, MGNREGS, free food grains, subsidized meals, tax relief and arrear clearance.

"Our state is facing a big crisis, normal life has been hit by this pandemic. It has wreaked havoc on our economy and to revive the economy, we are announcing a Rs 20,000 crore package," The News Minute quoted the CM as saying.

In a major move, the Kerala government will also provide free rice to everyone, regardless of their economic status, for one month.

"Without differentiating families based on Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) cards, everyone will be given free rice. APL families will be given a total of 10 Kg cereals. For this Rs 100 crore has been allotted," said the Chief Minister.

Of the designated amount, a loan of Rs 2,000 crore would be made available to members of Kudumbashree - the state's poverty eradication and women empowerment scheme - in April and May. In the next two months, Rs 2,000 crore would be allotted to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGS).

In another major concession, the CM said that payment period for electricity and water bills will be extended. "People can pay the bills without paying fines for one more month," he said.

In the last state budget, the government had announced that 1,000 subsidised food stalls will be opened in the state. At these stalls, meals would be distributed for Rs 20. In the wake of the virus outbreak, these stalls, which were initially slated to be started by September, will now start by April.

Furthermore, the CM also announced concessions for auto rickshaw and bus operators in the state. "Fitness fee for autorickshaw will be relaxed. Stage carriage and contract carriage in buses will be tax-deductible. Stage carriers will be given a one-month exemption for three months tax," he said.

In addition, the CM said that two instalments of social security pensions, that were slated to be paid in April, would be paid this month. For this, a sum of Rs 1,320 crore would be spent.

"This pension is supposed to be given in April. But we have decided to disburse the pension amount for two months, this month itself," he said.

Furthermore, the families in the state which do not receive any social security pension will be given Rs 1,000 each. For this, Rs 100 crore has been set aside.

Kerala on Thursday confirmed one more positive case of the virus, taking the total number of cases in the southern state to 25. The latest case is a man from northern Kasaragod district, who had recently returned from Dubai.

At present, a whopping 31,173 people are under observation in the state. Of this, 237 are in hospitals and the remaining are in home quarantine.

Also Read: Mineral Water, Cheese Toast, Fruits: Kerala Govt's Breakfast Menu For Those In Isolation Wards Due To Coronavirus

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Contributors

Reethu Ravi

Reethu Ravi

Trainee Digital Journalist

Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.

Shweta Kothari

Shweta Kothari

Managing Editor

A broadcast turned digital journalist, Shweta Kothari heads the newsroom at The Logical Indian. She has previously worked with CNBC and NewsX as a news anchor and senior correspondent. Shweta holds a masters degree in journalism from the university of Sussex, UK and started her career with work placement with BBC in Scotland.

Reethu Ravi

Reethu Ravi

Trainee Digital Journalist

Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.

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