K’taka announces 2nd financial relief; extends curbs till June 14
Bengaluru The Karnataka government on Thursday extended the ongoing lockdown by one more week and also announced a second financial package. The restrictions will remain in force till 6am on June 14. Announcing the extension, chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday in Bengaluru said, “Even though there is a decline in Covid-19 infections in the existing situation, the spread of the (corona) virus has continued. Based on the advice of medical experts, the existing guidelines and strict restrictions in force at present, it has been reviewed as suitable and decided to be extended till 6 am on June 14.”
Besides extending the lockdown, the CM also kept his promise of providing a second financial package by announcing a relief of ₹500 crore. He announced a financial relief of ₹3,000 for power loom weavers which would benefit 59,000 such units that would cost the state exchequer ₹35 crores.
“Unorganized workers of film and television Industry will get ₹3,000 relief. This will benefit 22,000 registered workers and will incur an expenditure of (Rs) 6.6 crores,” a statement by the chief minister’s office (CMO) said.
Others who are likely to benefit are fishermen, priests Asha and Anganwadi workers among other sections. Yediyurappa had already announced a financial package of ₹1,250 crore last month. The second financial package comes amid criticism from the opposition and trade union activists who have stated that the paltry sums does little to alleviate sufferings of hundreds of thousands of people who have no source of livelihood or income due to the lockdown.
“It is going to be a month since these restrictions came into place. People are yet to receive any relief from the first package itself and the government has announced a second package. We had asked that at least ₹10,000 be deposited to their accounts before the lockdown. Where will these people run around to get the money now? And what use is ₹2000- ₹3000 which is not even enough to pay a month’s rent,” Ramalinga Reddy, the working president of the Congress party in Karnataka said on Thursday.
Yediyurappa said that at least 70% of those from the first package are beginning to receive payments and the process of paying out from the second package will start in a couple of days.
The CM said that excess milk procured from farmers will be converted to milk powder and distributed to school children along with food grains for June and July, costing the state ₹100 crore. “Teachers of unaided schools will be given a relief of Rs. 5000 each. This will amount to Rs. 100 crore. An assistance of ₹5 crores will be given to advocates welfare fund,” according to the statement.
The chief minister announced that micro, small, medium enterprises will be given concession for paying fixed charges for the month of May and June which will cost ₹120 crores to the government.
Yediyurappa said that though the restrictions would continue across the state but the government did make some concessions.
According to the latest guidelines, all establishments which are directly engaged in exports are permitted to function with 30% of their staff strength. The guidelines added that the department of commerce and industry will notify the list of permitted units and establishments.
“All such units which employ more than 1000 persons shall do covid-19 test for at least 10% of the employees randomly twice a week,” according to the new guidelines.
The document added that a separate SOP will be issued for garment exporting units shortly.
On Thursday, Karnataka recorded 18,324 new infections at a positivity rate of 12.20%. There were 24,036 recoveries that further brought down the active caseload to 286,789, according to the daily bulletin of the state health department.
However, the fatality rate continues to remain at a high of 2.80% as 514 more died in the battle against the virus that takes the state’s toll to 30,531. Yediyurappa said if the positivity rate comes down to below 5% or 3%, then the state is ready to give some kind of relief in restrictions as earlier.
A government-appointed technical advisory committee (TAC) had submitted a report earlier this week to the state health ministry on steps required to contain the prolonging of the second wave of infections.