Coronavirus update: Rs 500 for 3 months, free cylinders to benefit poor women amid lockdown
Sitharaman announced Rs 1,000 as social pension for the next three months for widows, differently-abled and the elderly. “We do not want anyone to remain hungry,” said Sitharaman.Updated: Mar 27, 2020 06:45 IST
New Delhi: Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced Rs 500 a month for the next three months for 200 million poor women as part of a Rs 1,70,000 crore package of direct cash transfers and food for the poor to tide over the nationwide lockdown imposed on Wednesday to check the coronavirus pandemic.
She said the money will be transferred to the account holders of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which was launched in 2014 to provide financial services to the poor and included the opening of no-frills bank accounts. Sitharaman said the government will set aside Rs 31000 crore for it.
Gas cylinders will also be provided free of cost to 80 million poor families for the next three months. The government has set aside Rs 13,000 crore for this.
Sitharaman announced Rs 1,000 as social pension for the next three months for widows, differently-abled and the elderly. “We do not want anyone to remain hungry,” said Sitharaman.
As many as 6.3 million women organised through self-help groups, which support 68.5 million households, will get the benefit of additional credit availability. The collateral-free loans provided for the groups under the National Rural Livelihood Mission has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh.
The package was announced two days after the 21-day lockdown was announced to check the spread of the pandemic. The lockdown has led to supply constraints for essential items and panic buying and left the poor and daily wagers vulnerable.
Aasha Kapur Mehta, a visiting professor at Delhi’s Institute for Human Development, said that food rations would really help women apart from the cash transfers and gas cylinders. “Food and essential items are desperately needed and the ration will ensure that families do not starve,” she said.
The government plans to provide extra rations to about 800 million poor people over the next three months as part of the package.