Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda on Tuesday, April 7 wrote to several state Chief Ministers urging them to protect the livelihood of tribals amid coronavirus lockdown. According to reports, he has asked the Chief Ministers to initiate the process of undertaking procurement of minor forest produce at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
In the letter, the Union Minister stated that the procurement by the states will contain the movement of middlemen from cities to the tribal areas. "This is to obviate the movement of middlemen in urban areas to tribal habitations and thus check the spread of COVID-19 among tribal communities. Funds are available with the states and if any need arises, the Ministry will make them available," it read.
Further, as per reports, the Chief Ministers to whom Munda wrote the letter include Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa, Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Assam CM Sarbanand Sonowal, Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio, and Manipur CM N Biren Singh.
According to the latest update of the Health Ministry, about 4,789 cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported in the country including 4,312 active cases. While 124 deaths have been reported overall, around 353 people have been cured. Currently, the highest number of cases have been reported from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
In a bid to tackle the growing crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 had announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus, stating that "social distancing" is the only way to contain the disease which is spreading rapidly across the world.
Meanwhile, PM Modi has also established a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation -- like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic -- and to provide relief to the affected. A public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund) has been established for the same.