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FM Nirmala Sitharaman announces economic relief for women in relief package for coronavirus

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has affected at least 649 people and claimed 16 lives, according to the Ministry of Health. 

The relief package announced to help the “poorest of the poor” affected by the lockdown caused due to the novel coronavirus includes separate relief for poor women. 

File photo of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

It includes direct benefit transfer (DBT) of Rs 500 per month for the next three months for 20 core women enrolled in the Jan Dhan Yojana. Women in the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala scheme to receive free cooking gas for three months to ensure food to 8.3 crore BPL families. Collateral free loans for self-help women groups have been doubled. They can get collateral free loans upto Rs 20 lakh, up from Rs. 10 lakh earlier. Seven crore households under the Deen Dayal National Livelihood Mission will be eligible to receive these benefits. 

"We have come with a package which will immediately take care of the welfare concerns of the poor and suffering workers, and those who need immediate help," said Sitharaman at a press briefing announcing the measures. 

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Poor widows and senior citizens will be given an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 1000 for the next three months available in two installments. 

Apart from these measures for women, the Centre has announced measures for farmers, construction workers, people in the unorganised and organised and MNREGA workers. 

The stimulus includes Rs 50 lakh per person insurance cover for doctors, paramedic, healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak as well as 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months for 80 crore poor people through the Public Distribution System. 

The economic relief package is to help the poor tide over the 21 day lockdown to help prevent the spread of coronavirus that has been declared a pandemic by WHO. 

Nirmala Sitharaman is the head of an Economic Task Force set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week to work out a package for the economy hit by coronavirus.

(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)


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