Karna govt announces initiatives for poor affected by lockdown

PTI, Mar 24, 2020, 6:48 PM IST

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government was taking all necessary steps to control spread of COVID-19, which was haunting like a monster, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Tuesday, as he announced a slew of initiatives for the poor, whose livelihoods have been hit due to the state-wide lockdown.

Calling it testing times and the aim to ensure that the state does not reach the third stage of COVID-19 outbreak, he announced measures for the poor like payment of two months of social security pension in advance, the release of Rs 1,000 per person to about 21 lakh construction workers and waiving of Rs 13.20 crore loan under “Badavara Bandhu” scheme, among others.

“Before I start with my reply to the discussion on the budget, I will have to tell one thing. When I assumed office, the difficult situation that existed (floods in parts of the state)… the same situation has cropped up once again,” Yediyurappa said in the assembly.

The Chief Minister said the COVID-19 virus was haunting not only the people of the state but the entire world like a monster.

Listing out the steps taken to control the spread of COVID-19, including the release of Rs 200 crore, the Chief Minister said though the first coronavirus death in the country was from Karnataka, the government had been able to control the spread of the virus to an extent.

Everyone, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had lauded the steps taken by the state government, he said.

“We are in the second stage of COVID-19 and it should not go to the third or the fourth stage.

“We have taken measures so that we don’t go into the third stage. I’m honestly saying that we have taken steps so that the virus does not worry about people. I’m confident that our people will soon come out the fear of this virus,” he said.

The Karnataka government on Monday night had announced a lockdown till month end in the entire state to control the spread of the virus.

Yediyurappa said the social security pension of two months would be released in advance for the poor, additional working days amount will be released in advance under MNREGA scheme and two months ration will be supplied immediately.

Also, 21 lakh construction workers will be paid Rs 1,000 per person, he said, adding that the government under Badavara Bandhu (interest-free loan to roadside vendors) scheme, has decided to waive Rs 13.20 crore loans.

This includes Rs 9.10 crore in 2018-19 benefiting 15,120 people, and Rs 5.16 crore in 2019-20, benefiting 6,500 people, he said.

Yediyurappa also slammed opposition parties Congress and JD(S) for boycotting his reply and said he had expected them to join the government in sending a clear message by instilling confidence among people in these difficult times.

Congress on Tuesday boycotted the session, accusing the government of not heeding to the oppositions views and tabling and passage of the bills, despite its reservations,

JD(S) too walked out as Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri did not agree to the party’s demand of allowing them to raise an issue before the Chief Ministers reply on the budget.

Earlier in the day, speaking to reporters, Yediyurappa requested people to celebrate Ugadi (New Year) on Wednesday in a simple manner and advised them against going to markets to purchase things for festivities.

Warning people against violating the lockdown and unnecessarily coming out in their vehicles, he said police will take action against such people.

I appeal to everyone to stay at home understanding the seriousness of the situation. Don’t blame me or the government if you are caught violating prohibitory orders.”

A day after announcing that food would be provided free of cost through Indira Canteens for the poor who depend on their daily wages for livelihood, Yediyurappa said that the government decided not to keep them open after realising that a huge number of people would gather there.

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