20 days, 20 steps: A look at government’s measures against Covid-19 amid lockdown
On Monday, India entered the 20th day of the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 25. The 21-day lockdown was put in place to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.
The 3-week lockdown was introduced to break the chain of Covid-19 infection across the country and ‘flatten the curve’. The lockdown will come to an end on April 14, if not extended further.
In the past three weeks, the government has taken a slew of measures to ensure that the lockdown remains in place and is followed by all citizens. Many steps have been taken to make sure that people from different walks of society don’t feel the pinch of the lockdown.
On day 20 of the lockdown, here’s taking a look at 20 steps taken by the government amid the coronavirus crisis:
1. The government recently introduced the Aarogya Setu mobile application to educate citizens about novel coronavirus and help them make informed decisions amid the crisis.
2. On Sunday, an oil ministry spokesperson said that poor households using 5kg cooking gas cylinders will be entitled to eight free refills in three months as a relief from the disruptions due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The number of free refills will be limited to three for beneficiaries using 14.2kg cylinders.
3. The government said it plans to set up a chain of 20 lakh retail shops called ‘Suraksha Stores’ across India which will provide daily essentials to citizens while maintaining stringent safety norms, news agency PTI reported.
4. Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Sunday launched a web portal to monitor and record the initiative by the ministry to combat Covid-19 with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (YUKTI).
5. Under its Ujjawala scheme, the government is providing free LPG refills for the next three months to over 8.3 crore poor women.
6. Earlier this week, the finance ministry announced that it will make an immediate release of Rs 18,000 crore in tax refunds to individuals and businesses.
7. The government decided to double the collateral-free loan amount for women in self-help groups to Rs 20 lakh.
8. Under the PM-KISAN scheme, the finance ministry said that over 6 crore farmers have been benefited amid the lockdown. Rs 13,855 crore have gone towards payment of the first instalment of PM-KISAN.
9. Wages under MGNREGA to be hiked to Rs 202 from Rs 182. The move would bring in Rs 2,000 in addition to workers.
10. Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a relief package worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
11. Under a special provision, the government had announced that individuals could now withdraw three months salary from Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) account amid the coronavirus crisis. The EPF withdrawals have been exempt from service charge.
12. Under the National Social Assistance Programme, Rs 1,400 crore has been disbursed to about 2.82 crore old age people, widows and disabled people.
13.The last date for filing income tax returns for the financial year 2018-19 has been extended to June 30, 2020. The interest rate on delayed income tax payment has been decreased to 9% from 12%.
14. Over 2 crore construction workers received financial support worth Rs 3,066 crore under the Building and Construction Workers’ Fund.
15. The deadline for filing GST returns for March, April, May has been extended to June 30, 2020. There will be no interest or penalty on late fee for delayed returns for companies with turnover up to Rs 5 crore.
16. Nearly 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders received Rs 500 each in their account. The total disbursement under the head was 9,930 crore, the finance ministry said.
17. Deadline for linking Aadhaar with PAN card has also been extended from March 31 to June 30, 2020.
18. The government has also released around Rs 30,000 crore in assistance to various sections of the society.
19. The government said it will release 12 million MT of food grain during the April-June quarter under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana amid the Covid-19 crisis.
20. The government is also providing medical insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per person to health workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, the total number of coronavirus tally in the country crossed the 9,000-mark with 9,152 cases. According to the Ministry of Health, India now has 7,987 active Covid-19 cases while as many as 856 patients have recovered or discharged. The coronavirus death toll in the country stands at 308.