With the Covid-19 lockdown continuing to threaten certain sectors and persons engaged in traditional occupations like barbers and washermen, the Karnataka government announced a special compensation package worth Rs 1,610 crore to bail out the distressed sections.
Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, on Wednesday, announced loan waivers, one-time financial aid and extension of deadlines and certain sops to provide relief to different sections of the society.
"People from all sections of society are facing financial difficulties due to lockdown for more than one and a half months. This special package will provide some relief, " said Yediyurappa.
The government announced compensation of Rs 25,000 per hectare (limiting the maximum extent to one hectare) to all the flower growers as they suffered losses due to lack of demand owing to the lockdown. The farmers in the state had cultivated flowers across 11,687 hectares. A similar package will be worked out for vegetable and fruit growers soon, assured the CM.
A one-time compensation of Rs 5,000 will be given to all the barbers ( 2.30 lakh), washermen (60,000) in both rural and urban areas and autorickshaw and taxi drivers (7.75 lakh).
With the state keen on resuming construction and infrastructure projects, it is trying hard to convince the migrant workers to stay back. Around 15.80 lakh registered building workers in the state, will now be given an additional aid of Rs 3,000 in addition to the first one (Rs 2,000).
"We have already transferred Rs 2,000 to the bank accounts of 11.80 lakh building workers through DBT. Action has been initiated to transfer Rs 2,000 to the remaining four lakh construction workers after due verification. The additional aid of Rs 3,000 will be transferred through DBT, " assured Yediyurappa.
As MSMEs have suffered huge production losses due to lockdown and would take time for its revival, the government has waived monthly fixed charges of electricity bills of MSMEs for two months. The payment of fixed charges in the electricity bills by the large industries will be deferred without penalty and interest for two months. Incentives and concessions will be given to consumers of all categories on paying the bills in advance or within the stipulated time.There will be reduction in the interest on the amount for late payment. Balance bill amount can be paid in installments and defaulters will not face disconnection till June 30.
The state government, which has already announced loan waiver worth Rs 109 crore (Rs 29 crore released till date) for weavers, will release the balance amount to enable the sector to avail fresh loans. Weavers who have repaid the loans between January 1, 2019 and March 31, 2019 can avail reimbursement.
A new scheme--Nekarara (Weavers) Samman Yojane, where the handloom weavers will be given an annual income support of Rs 2,000 is hoped to benefit around 54,000 weavers in the state.
Meanwhile, the Congress leaders have urged the chief minister to convene a special session of the state assembly to "rework the budget" and to discuss ways to "revive the economy".
KPCC chief D.K. Shivakumar said the session was necessary to discuss the plight of the people. "We need to discuss the plight of the farmers and the millions who have suffered in the unorganised sectors. Many community-based professionals, farmers and daily wage earners need attention and immediate financial assistance. I assure that it will be a very productive session in the interest of our brothers and sisters who are the builders of this nation," tweeted Shivakumar.