Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in a bid to provide much needed relief during the ‘Janata Curfew’ from April 14 to May 1, has announced a package of Rs 5,476 crore for the economically weaker sections, including families below the poverty line, women, the aged, widows, the physically challenged, the unorganised sector, rickshaw drivers and tribals.
Despite the present financial crunch in the state, the government will mop up funds to implement this package. In addition, Thackeray has urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release aid as provided for affected by natural calamities.
In addition, the government has earmarked Rs 3,300 crore exclusively for the upgradation, strengthening, expanding and optimising the existing health infrastructure, which is currently under tremendous pressure because of the sharp rise in Covid patients. The government proposes to add more beds, including oxygen beds and ICU beds, ventilators, step up oxygen supply and procure medicines including Remdesivir, demand for which is likely to increase to 1 lakh from the present 50,000 per day.
The Free Press Journal on Monday broke the story about the government’s financial package for the poor, underprivileged and economically weaker sections. As reported, the government has decided to use the time to further strengthen the health infrastructure and streamline medical and related facilities amid rising Covid cases.
Under its flagship Shiv Bhojan scheme, the government will provide free lunches for a month. About two lakh plates will be served free daily from such centres.
The government will also provide 3kg of wheat and 2kg of rice free for a month to the seven crore beneficiaries covered by the National Food Security Act.
Under the various pension and assistance schemes, including the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana, Shravanbal and Central schemes for widows, senior citizens and disabled, about 35 lakh beneficiaries will be given Rs 1,000 each for two months in advance.
Around 12 lakh construction workers registered with the Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board will be given Rs 1,500 each. In addition, substantial assistance will also be provided for the welfare schemes aimed at nearly 25 house helps in the state.
The government will also provide Rs 1,500 each to around five lakh vendors and it will be directly transferred to their bank accounts.
Around 12 lakh autorickshaw drivers will be given Rs 1,500 each.
Nearly 12 lakh tribal families will be provided Rs 2,000 each, under the Khavti scheme.
The government has also allowed payment of various taxes, fees and other levies to the local and civic bodies, government and government undertakings for April and May without interest.