As the country fights an unprecedented battle against Corona Virus, there are battles waging on many fronts. The medical care staff is at the forefront of this battle and the scientists are working round the clock to come up with a vaccine. But no less important is the role of each and every citizen who is a partner in the battle to prevent the spread of the infection. To limit the numbers of infections and to prevent a stage 3 community spread, Prime Minister has appealed to each and everyone of us to follow a unified and well thought out strategy. The chief components of this strategy are lockdown and social distancing. It is heartening to note that the entire country has responded to his call with enthusiasm and maturity.
One aspect of an extended lockdown is the economic hardship faced by the vulnerable sections of our society. The government is fully aware of how important it is to assist the poorer sections of our society in this time of crisis. So far, more than 32 crore poor people have already received financial assistance to the tune of Rs 29,352 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package. Using Direct Benefit Transfer, the govt. has successfully deposited Rs. 28,256 Cr. to 31.77 Cr. beneficiaries’ bank accounts under Covid relief. As part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, the Government is providing free food grains and cash payment to women and poor senior citizens and farmers.
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana in Manipur
In Manipur, rice and other food grain distribution is going on in full swing in all the districts. Migrant labourers are being taken care of. The citizens of the state stuck in other parts of the country and who have registered themselves with the state government are being provided with Rs 2000 immediate financial assistance. A large number of NGOs and social organisations are also working shoulder to shoulder with the government to provide relief to the economically weaker sections.
As per latest data, the State Government is distributing PDS items to every household in all the districts under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). Thus for example, in Konthoujam AC in Imphal West district, 907.93 quintal of rice was lifted yesterday and for Khurai AC in Imphal East district a total of 801.1 quintal of rice was lifted. A total of 14.35 quintal of rice under PMGKAY was lifted for Tamenglong, while 1182 quintal of rice for Tamei Sub-division, 75 quintal of rice for Nungba Sub-division and 700 quintal for Tousem Sub-division were lifted. For Chandel district, 91.05 quintal of rice under PMGKAY (AAY) and 137.57 quintal under PMGKAY were lifted. The distribution is being monitored by the top officers of the state.
Some personal experiences
The relief amounts are invaluable to the beneficiaries who do not have immediate economic opportunities and who do not have the cushion to sustain them. Let us listen to some of these voices:
Asom Sanahanbi, Tharoijam, Imphal West district Manipur says, “Under the leadership of PM Modi, I received Rs, 500/- through my zero balance bank account. I would like to thank our PM Modi.” Similarly, N. Manihal, Kakching district Manipur says, “We’re happy to acknowledge that we not only got money directly to our account but problems of cooking gas are also solved. Our PM make us feel secure in these days of lockdown and curfew. I thank our PM for this.” Kh. Tamu Devi, Kakching district Manipur tells his experience thus, “I am a daily wage earner. In this situation I am in a position to starve. But at this crucial time, our PM came forward to help us. We have got money in bank account as well as money for cooking also. Thank you Prime Minister.” Kh. Indumukhi Leima, Awang Leikinthabi, Imphal West says, “At this crucial time of lockdown, it was very surprising and unbelievable that a sum of Rs. 500 was credited to my bank account and also another Rs. 850 for cooking gas. Thank you Prime Minister.”
Similar voices are coming from the length and breath of the state. Free gas cylinders under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has come as a boon to the poor families struggling to feed themselves. To them this assistance is all that is required to sustain them through an economically difficult period.
The Garib Kalyan Package across the country
Several other crucial decisions are part of the overall Garib Kalyan package. Increased rate has been notified for MNREGA and Rs 7100 crore released to states to liquidate pending dues of both wage and material. An insurance scheme for health workers in govt hospitals and health care centres has been operationalised by New India Assurance covering 22.12 Lakh health workers. Of the total disbursement, Rs 14,946crore has gone towards payment of the first instalment of PM-KISAN. Under the scheme, nearly 7.47crore out of the 8 crore identified beneficiaries got ₹2,000 directly in their account. 19.86 crore women Jan Dhan account holders received ₹500 each in their account. As on 13th April,2020, the total disbursement under the head was ₹9,930 crore. The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) disbursed about ₹1,400 crore to about 2.82 crore old age persons, widows and disabled persons. Each beneficiary received an ex-gratia cash of Rs 500 under the scheme as the first installment. Another installment of Rs 500 each will be paid during next month. As many as 2.17croreBuilding &construction workers received financial support from the Building and Construction Workers’ Fund managed by state governments. Under this Rs 3,071crore were given to beneficiaries.
India will win this war and come out stronger. The bonds between the people will be strengthened because of the actions we are taking. The state machinery will be in a better position to come to direct assistance to the people whenever there is a crisis next time. The health care system will improve manifold. We will show to the world that in times of crisis every Indian is a soldier and a powerful one at that.
The writer is the Director of PIB, Imphal