News Excerpt
The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister announced Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus.

Pre-Connect
•    The Government has announced a nation-wide lockdown, from March 25, 2020 to April 14, 2020.
•    The announcement came in the backdrop of the Covid-19 outbreak and is intended to enable the concept of “social distancing” to contain the spread of the virus.
•    The lockdown has disproportionately hurt marginalized communities due to loss of livelihood and lack of food, shelter, health, and other basic needs.
•    To protect the vulnerable people the Government has launched the PMGKY scheme.

Highlights
The PMGKY is 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 components of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package are:
    Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 in Government Hospitals and Health Care Centres
o    Safaikaramcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers would be covered by a Special insurance

Scheme.
o    A compensation of Rs. 50 lakhs for all health professional if he/she meet an accident while treating Covid-19 patients.
    PM Garib Kalyan AnnYojana
o    Government of India would not allow anybody, especially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of food grains due to disruption in the next three months.
o    80 crore individuals, i.e., roughly two-thirds of India’s population would be provided double of their current entitlement over next three months at free of cost.
o    To ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above-mentioned individuals, 1 kg pulse per family, would be provided free of cost according to regional preferences for next three months.
    Under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana
o    The first instalment 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 PMGKY
o    A total of 20.40 crores PMJDY women account-holders would be given ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for next three months.
o    Gas cylinders would be provided to 8 crore poor families free of cost for the next three months.
o    Wage-earners below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses having less than 100 workers are at risk of losing their employment. The government proposes to pay 24 percent of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for next three months.
o    There are around 3 crore aged widows and people in Divyang category who are vulnerable due to economic disruption caused by COVID-19. The Government will give them Rs 1,000 to tide over difficulties during next three months.
o    MNREGA wages would be increased by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April, 2020, which will provide an additional Rs 2,000 benefit annually to a worker.
o    Limit of collateral free lending for SHGs would be increased from Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakhs.
    Other components of PMGKY
o    Employees’ Provident Fund Regulations will be amended to include Pandemic as the reason to allow non-refundable advance of 75 percent of the amount or three months of the wages, whichever is lower, from their accounts.
o    Welfare Fund for Building and Other Constructions Workers has been created under a Central Government Act. State Governments will be given directions to utilise this fund to provide assistance and support to the workers to protect them against economic disruptions.
o    The State Government will be asked to utilise the funds available under District Mineral Fund (DMF) for supplementing and augmenting facilities of medical testing, screening and other requirements in connection with preventing the spread of CVID-19 pandemic as well as treating the patients affected with this pandemic.

Conclusion
The PMGKY initiative is directed at bringing relief to the urban and rural poor, migrant workers and women in the bottom rung of the socio-economic strata. Amid the lockdown, there are apprehensions that more people would die of hunger instead of COVID-19 infection. In such a situation, the PMGKY is a right step by the government to ensure the safety of its vulnerable people.