New measures under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana
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New measures under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

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New measures under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

Why in News?

The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has announced Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Coronavirus.

These measures are intended at reaching out to the poorest of the poor, with food and money in hands, so that they do not face difficulties in buying essential supplies and meeting essential needs.

The package includes a range of measures that the Government of India will take to alleviate the economic, health, and food-related distress of India’s poor.

Key components of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: 

Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 in Government Hospitals and Health Care Centres:

What are the benefits?

Any health professional, who while treating Covid-19 patients, meet with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme.

Coverage:

All government health centers, wellness centers, and hospitals of the Centre, as well as States, would be covered under this scheme.

Approximately 22 lakh health workers would be provided insurance cover to fight this pandemic.

Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists, and other health workers would be covered.

PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana:

Under this scheme, 80 crore poor people, covering about two-thirds of the country’s population, will get 5 kg rice or wheat each month for the next three months free of charge, in addition to the 5 kg they already get. 

Each household will get 1 kg of dal of their choice, for the next three months, also free of charge.

Besides, to ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above-mentioned individuals, 1 kg per family, would be provided pulses according to regional preferences for the next three months.

The benefit to farmers:

The first installment of Rs 2,000 due in 2020-21 will be front-loaded and paid in April 2020 itself under the PM KISAN Yojana. It would cover 8.7 crore farmers.

Cash transfers Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana:

A total of 20.40 crores PMJDY women account-holders would be given an ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for the next three months.

Gas cylinders, free of cost, would be provided to 8 crore poor families for the next three months.

Wage-earners below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses having less than 100 workers: 

Government proposes to pay 24 percent of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for the next three months.

Support for senior citizens (above 60 years), widows, and Divyang: Government will give them Rs 1,000 to tide over difficulties during the next three months.

MNREGA wages would be increased by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April 2020. The wage increase under MNREGA will provide an additional Rs 2,000 benefit annually to a worker.

Self-Help groups:

The limit of collateral-free lending would be increased from Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakhs.

Other components:

Employees’ Provident Fund Regulations will be amended to include Pandemic as the reason to allow the non-refundable advance of 75 percent of the amount or three months of the wages, whichever is lower, from their accounts.

Welfare Fund for Building and Other Constructions Workers: State Governments will be given directions to utilize this fund to provide assistance and support to these workers to protect them against economic disruptions.

Why these measures were necessary?

For economic agents – particularly poor households and small businesses – the crisis today is a crisis of liquidity. The nationwide lockdown, imposed to stop the novel coronavirus in its tracks, has led to scores of daily wage workers and informal sector entrepreneurs losing earning opportunities from their existing activities.

Concerns and challenges ahead:

Essentially, this package seems to reach those who are connected to bank accounts and formal payment systems. 

But certain groups of daily wagers and informal workers may be left out.

And the real challenge would come in implementing these measures. 

For example, while there were sufficient surplus food grains available in government warehouses and an existing system for further procurement, the system for procurement of pulses needed to be created in most states.