Two days into the lockdown, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a 1.7-lakh-crore economic relief package to alleviate the hardship caused by the coronavirus induced 21–day nationwide lockdown.
The announcements, which proved nothing but half-measures by the Modi government at a time when the country is hit hard by a pandemic, include increase of MGNREGA wages from Rs.182 to Rs.202 per day, transfer of Rs.500 per month (for three months) to every woman accountholder under the Jan Dhan Yojana, and free gas cylinders to all Ujjwala beneficiaries, among others.
Meanwhile, to stop the panic buying problem among the 1.3 billion population, the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Maharashtra announced on Thursday that shops selling essential items including groceries, vegetables will be allowed to function round the clock, according to news agency PTI.
The number of confirmed coronavirus infected cases in the country crossed 700 on Thursday. The death toll reached 17.
Briefing the media on Thursday evening, Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health & Family Welfare Ministry, however, said that the rate of increase of cases “appears to be relatively stabilizing.”