The Karnataka government on Wednesday announced a Rs 1,610 crore relief package for the benefit of those in distress due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown. The measures announced by the Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa would bring relief to farmers, flower-growers, washermen, auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, MSMEs, large industries, weavers, building workers and barbers.
The government also announced a 11 per cent excise duty hike, which is in addition to the six per cent announced in the budget. People from all sections of society are facing financial difficulties due to lockdown of more than one and a half months, the Chief Minister noted.
Flower growers have destroyed their flowers following lack of demand for their produce due to the lockdown. It is estimated that farmers cultivated flowers in about 11,687 hectares. Realising the problems facing flower growers, the government announced a compensation of Rs 25,000 per hectare limited to a maximum extent of one hectare for the crop loss.
Farmers who have grown vegetables and fruits were not able to market their produce, and the government has decided to announce a relief package for them. Covid-19 has also affected service professionals such as barbers and washermen (dhobis) both in urban and rural areas, and it has been decided to provide a one time compensation of Rs 5,000 each to benefit about 60,000 washermen and about 2,30,000 barbers.
A decision has also been taken to help about 7,75,000 Auto & Taxi drivers by providing one time compensation of Rs 5,000 each. MSMEs have also suffered huge production losses due to the lockdown.
It takes some time for them to revive, Yediyurappa said. The monthly fixed charges of electricity bills of MSMEs will be waived for two months. Payment of fixed charges in the electricity bills of the large industries would be deferred without penalty and interest for a period of two months.
The Chief Minister also announced certain benefits for electricity consumers of all categories. The state government has already announced Rs 109 crore weavers loan Waiver scheme, of which Rs 29 crore has been released during 2019-20.
Balance amount of Rs 80.00 crore would be released immediately. This would help weavers get fresh loans to continue their occupation. The Chief Minister also announced a new scheme, Weaver Samman Yojana (Nekarara Sammana yojane) for the benefit of the suffering weavers. Under this scheme, the government would deposit Rs 2,000 directly into the bank account of the handloom weaver through DBT.
This will benefit about 54,000 handloom weavers in the state. There are 15.80 lakh registered building workers in the state. The government has already transferred Rs 2,000 to the bank account of 11.80 lakh building workers through DBT.
Action has already been initiated to transfer Rs 2,000 to the accounts of the remaining four lakh construction workers soon after verifying beneficiaries bank account details. In addition to this, the government has decided to transfer additional amount of Rs 3,000 to building workers through DBT.
The above compensation would be provided with an estimated cost of Rs 1,610.00 crore, which would help those who are in distress due to lockdown, the Chief Minister added.
(With PTI inputs)