The Delhi government Saturday announced a set of measures including regular meals for the homeless as well as enhanced ration and pension for socio-economically vulnerable groups to help them cushion the effects of widespread restrictions in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the restrictions, including shutting down of malls, restaurants and various other public spaces are causing severe financial stress to the poorer sections of the society and the government cannot afford to let people go hungry.
He also announced that any gathering of over five people will now be barred in the national capital, revising the previous order on restricting assemblies of over 20 people.
Kejriwal’s briefing was livestreamed on social media platforms. The government announced during the day that regular press conferences were being discontinued to ensure journalists remains safe.
“We had received a suggestion on running community kitchens but that may cause overcrowding. So we have decided to enhance the ration for around 72 lakh beneficiaries enlisted on the rolls. Currently, every such beneficiary is entitled to 4 kilos of wheat, 1 kilo rice and 1 kilo sugar. Now, we are increasing the total allocation per person to 7.5 kilos. And it will be free of cost. We are trying to start the disbursal for the month of April from March 30. Moreover, we are also doubling the pension of 2.5 lakh widows, around 5 lakh senior citizens and 1 lakh disabled persons,” Kejriwal said.
Government officials said currently beneficiaries of disabled and widow pensions get Rs 2500 per month. Old age pension stands at Rs 2000 per month for those between 60-69 years and Rs 2500 for those above 70. “Rs 4000- 5000 pension will be paid to 8.5 lakh beneficiaries by 7 April,” the CM tweeted.
For the city’s homeless population, lunches and dinners are being arranged at the night shelters, Kejriwal said. Delhi has so far recorded 26 corona cases, out of which one person died. “We are taking steps to contain the spread. Global experiences have shown that once it starts spreading exponentially, it becomes difficult to control,” the CM said.
In view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a ‘Janata curfew’ on Sunday, the Delhi government will withdraw 50 per cent of its bus fleet from the roads, he added. The GST on payments of those availing paid quarantine facilities at three city hotels have also been waived, he said.
The CM requested the elderly, “with folded hands”, to remain indoors and suspend their regular walks. “Even at home, please maintain some distance from family members and others. Instead of walks, exercise yoga at home. We are not going for any lockdown immediately, but if any such measure is in the interest of people, we will implement that as well,” he said.
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