Coronavirus Relief Package: Key Entitlements

This post looks at the availability of government schemes and entitlements to help workers combat the 21-day lockdown in view of the Coronavirus Pandemic  

Coronavirus

While the first coronavirus affected person was detected in late January 2020, the spread became more threatening in early March, 2020. And by mid-March, the nation-wide lockdown was announced. While everyone is taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus, the lockdowns are likely to hit the contract workers and daily wage labourer the most. The Government of India and various state Governments has announced many relief packages in March 2020 which would become applicable for all workers.

Some of these include:

  • BPL families will get extra ration of 5kg rice or wheat and 1kg of preferred pulses every month for the next three months
  • Jan Dhan women account holders will get a compensation of Rs 500 per month for the next three monthszx
  • All those registered under senior citizens / people with disability / widows pension scheme to receive Rs 1000 ex gratia amount
  • Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, gas cylinders, free of cost, would be provided to 8 crore poor families for the next three months.
  • Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health would be covered by a special insurance scheme.
  • The first instalment of Rs 2,000 due in 2020-21 will be front-loaded and paid in April 2020 itself under the PM KISAN Yojana
  • Wages under MNREGA to be increased by Rs 20 per day with effect from April 1, 2020
  • Collateral-free loans limit doubled to Rs 20 lakh for women self-help groups under the Deen Dayal National Livelihood Mission.
  • A total waiver of debit card usage charges which apply for transaction at a different bank’s ATM for next three months
  • Rs 1000 each to all ration cardholders and provide free rice, sugar, and other essential commodities on token basis.
  • If card holders had missed their entitlement for March, they could get them along with April ration
  • Auto rickshaw drivers and construction workers will get a special assistance of Rs 1,000
  • Registered pavement hawkers will also get Rs 1,000 assistance
  • Families of migrant labourers, construction workers and auto rickshaw drivers will get 15 kilo rice, one kilo dhal and cooking oil for free.
  • Destitute persons and elderly will get cooked food at their place of residence.

One of the most important instruments that the Government is using to support workers is the Provident Fund scheme. The Government has announced two entitlements. It will pay the EPF contribution both of the employer and the employee (12% each) for the next three months. The EPFO in its order said that employees would be allowed to withdraw 75% of his fund or three months salary (whichever is lower) as advance from the provident fund account after one month of unemployment and keep its account with the EPFO active. (Detail in Annexure 1)

The second important one is related to the PDS scheme. Under the Food Security Act, the Public Distribution System (Ration), every family gets 5 kg of wheat or rice per month at rate of Rs 3 per kg for rice and Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 1 per kg for coarse cereals {Jowar (Sorghum), Bajra (Pearl Millet), Maize, Ragi (Finger Millet)}. The Coronavirus Relief entitlements with respect to PDS is that in addition to regular entitlement, there will be a supply of 5 KG of wheat or rice and 1 kg of Pulses free of cost. In Tamil Nadu, there is also an additional component of Rs 1000 cash payment for priority card holders. (Detail in Annexure 2)

The third one is for Jan Dhan account holders. Every Women Jan Dhan Account holders will receive Rs 500 per month for three months – April, May and June 2020. It seems not everyone has applied for the Jan Dhan account; and even if they had, most of them might not ever have checked it. The account has many benefits including accident insurance for all accountholders. (Details of accessing Jan Dhan Account is in Annexure 3).

Given the severity of the situation created by the lockdown owing to coronavirus, it is important to ensure that distress voices from the ground are captured and shared with dutybearers – administration as well as policy makers. In this regard, a quick list of entitlements and a simple schedule have been prepared. They are being shared with workers in villages; and a mechanism is being created for quick analysis and sharing with the administration. (The questionnaire is in Annexure 4). The Gethu group is planning to come with a series of briefing papers on different entitlements in the coming days.

– Inputs from Chandra, Sivagami and Stanley

Published by post2015voices

Voice For Change is an attempt by Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices to bring together voices from the margins of development debates across the world, especially in the context of the future of the Millennium Development Goals. It is a space for voices from civil society to come and merge with voices from the marginalised to build the momentum for inclusive change.

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