In a big relief for poor and frontline health workers amid coronavirus outbreak, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday, March 26 announced a Rs 1,70,000 crore package. The poor will get cash transfer and food subsidy in their bank accounts, while those medical professionals at frontline duties will get an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh for the next three months. 

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, the finance minister said that no one will go hungry as a package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore was ready for poor in rural and urban areas and migrant workers who need immediate help in this time of crisis.

Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a relief package for poor amid COVID-19 lockdown.Twitter/ANI

 50 lakh insurance for health workers, free rice for 80 cr poor

A special Rs 50 lakh medical insurance cover will be offered to the doctors and their support staff who are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic at the frontline.  The insurance cover will be for three months.

"There will be Rs 50 lakh insurance per health care worker as a medical insurance cover for them for three months. Hopefully, we would be able to contain the virus in this period," Sitharaman said.

The wage of MGNREGA workers increased to 202

In the wake of coronavirus lockdown, the government has also increased the wage of MGNREGA workers to Rs 202 per day from Rs 182 per day. This is likely to benefit five crore workers across the country. Also, women Jan Dhan account holders will get Rs 500 per month till June 2020.

"Women Jan Dhan account holders will get ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for the next three months. This will benefit over 20 crore women who have Jan Dhan accounts," the finance minister said.

Three crore widows, pensioners and the specially-abled would also receive a one-time payment of Rs 1,000 directly in their bank accounts.

Free wheat and rice for 80 crore people

The Rs 1,70,000-crore "Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan scheme" will offer an additional 5 kg wheat/rice and 1 kg pulses free of cost for the next three months. Sitharaman said that the government will ensure that "no one will go hungry". 

"The poor and the needy will get 5 kg additional wheat and rice free of cost for the next there months over and above what they are entitled under the National Food Security Act. They will also get 1 kg pulses free for next three months," the minister said.

The government will also release the first installment of their yearly payment of Rs 6,000 to the farmers in the first week of April. "8.69 crore farmers to be immediately benefited through Direct cash transfers. Installment of Rs 2000 in the first week of April will be transferred, she added.