New Delhi: The government unveiled its second plan on how to spend the stimulus package of ₹20 lakh crore, which the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced on Tuesday. While the first tranche of over ₹5.5 lakh crore was dedicated to micro, medium and small enterprises, the second tranche was focused on the farmers and poor labourers, including migrant workers, and also street vendors.
The prime minister termed the stimulus package to lift the coronavirus-hit economy of the country as Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant India mission).
The finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, unveiled the government’s plan before the media for the second day in succession, on Thursday. On Wednesday, she unveiled the plans for first instalment of the package.
Sitharaman, on Thursday, said the government will distribute free foodgrain worth ₹3,500 crore to migrant workers who do not have either central or state PDS (ration) cards. Sitharaman said there would be an Aadhaar-linked “one nation, one ration card”, which will “benefit 67 crore people in 23 states covering 83 per cent of PDS population”. She also said the card would be portable by August this year.
Apart from this, the finance minister also announced an affordable rental housing scheme for migrant workers besides a ₹5,000 crore special credit facility for nearly 50 lakh street vendors across the country.
With the government being accused of turning a blind eye to the plight of the migrant workers, hundreds of thousand of whom started marching towards their native places after being stranded without food or money due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, Sitharaman said, “We are conscious, we are attending to the migrants and giving them in various different ways.” She said the states have been allowed to utilize the State Disaster Relief Force for setting up shelter for migrants and provide them with food and water.
For farmers, Sitharaman said, “Today’s initiatives focus on migrant workers, street vendors, small traders, the self-employed and small farmers. Three crore marginal farmers have already availed loans worth ₹4 lakh crore on concessional rates.”
Apart from this, she said the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) would extend additional refinance support of ₹30,000 crore to rural cooperative banks and regional rural banks for extending crop loan to farmers.
The finance minister also announced a concessional credit line of ₹2 lakh crore to around 2.5 crore farmers who don’t have Kisan Credit Card, including those involved in pisciculture, fishing and animal husbandry.
Full video of Nirmala Sitharaman’s media briefing on Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package:
Global coronavirus deaths cross 300,000
In India, the number of coronavirus infections in the country climbed to nearly 82,000, on Thursday. The country saw 3,942 new cases on the day and 98 new deaths from the infection.
On the same day, the global death toll due to the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, pandemic crossed the 300,000-mark. The day also saw the total number of infections cross the 4.5 million-mark. The United States is the worst coronavirus-affected country in the world with more than 1.45 million infections and 86,500 deaths.
Latest coronavirus India stats:
- Confirmed: 81,997
- Deaths: 2,649
- Recovered: 27,969
Latest worldwide coronavirus stats:
- Confirmed: 4,509,271
- Deaths: 302,336
- Recovered: 1,697,595
Top 5 countries with coronavirus infections:
- United States: 1,451,696
- Spain: 272,646
- Russia: 252,245
- United Kingdom: 233,151
- Italy: 223,096
Top 5 countries with coronavirus deaths are:
- United States: 86,603
- United Kingdom: 33,614
- Italy: 31,368
- Spain: 27,321
- France: 27,425
[This story was last updated at 3.20am on May 15, 2020.]