In order to ensure the availability of food for the poor during the 21-day lockdown, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced distribution of 10 lakh packets of dry ration to daily wage workers and unorganised labourers in the state. The packets which would contain 10 kg atta, 2 kg dal and 2 kg of sugar would be distributed in areas where daily wage labourers reside, as per an official spokesperson.
These ration packets will be made available at the offices of the Deputy Commissioners of the state and would be distributed to the needy accordingly. Although these packets would be given to people via door-to-door distribution, those in need could dial in the state helpline number for the same.
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while holding a press conference announced a COVID-19 relief package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore with an exhaustive list of benefits for the poor and women. "A package is ready for the poor who need immediate help like migrant workers and urban and rural poor. No one will go hungry. The government is working for those who are directly affected like migrants, labours, women," said Sitharaman.
While the Punjab CM welcomed this decision of the Modi Government, he claimed that there was no immediate relief provided by the Centre to the daily wage earners and the unorganised sector workers who were struggling the most during the lockdown period.
The Finance Minister during the press conference announced that in addition to the already allotted five kg of rice/wheat per person, an additional 5kg will be free for the poor. With this, an additional one kilogram of pulses according to the regional preference will be provided.
Apart from that, several other direct benefit transfers were announced for farmers and MGNREGS employed workers including an increment in their wages during the lockdown period. For building and other construction workers, a welfare fund of Rs 31,000 cr fund, with over 3 crores registered workers has been set in place to protect them against any economic disruption.