A day after it cancelled 10 trains for migrants, the BS Yediyurappa government in Karnataka has announced a relief package of over Rs 1,600 crore for groups worst hit by the coronavirus lockdown. But the package has very little to offer migrants forced to stay back; it is directed at small and medium enterprises, handloom weavers, flower growers, dhobis or washermen, barbers, auto and taxi drivers among others.
As part of the measures annouced today, flower sellers will get a relief of Rs 25,000 per hectare limited to a maximum extent of one hectare for the crop loss.There will be a one-time Rs 5,000 compensation for washermen and barbers. Auto and taxi drivers will get a one-time relief of Rs 5,000. Construction workers will receive Rs 3,000 in addition to the Rs 2,000 received earlier.
"COVID-19 has not only affected farmers, but also affected the service professionals such as barbers and washermen (dhobis) both in urban and rural areas. The government has decided to provide a one-time compensation of Rs 5,000 each to benefit about 60,000 washermen and about 2,30,000 barbers," Chief Minister Yediyurappa said.
Financial Support for Construction Workers— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) May 6, 2020
We have decided to provide construction workers with a financial support of Rs.3000 to each of 15.80 lakh registered building workers in the state. This is over and above the Rs.2000 that is already being transferred to their accounts. pic.twitter.com/Fagsiknbdn
Handloom workers too will get Rs 2,000 in their bank accounts.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will have a two-month waiver on electricity bills. Electricity bills of large industries will be deferred for two months.
The move to cancel the trains has been hugely criticised by the opposition in Karnataka. "We can't keep them captive. We have to take them into confidence. The government and builders must give them incentives," Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar said.
"We have sent around one lakh people in 3,500 buses and trains, back to their home towns. I have also appealed to migrant workers to stay as the construction work has resumed now," Mr Yediyurappa said today.
Karnataka has three districts which still have the Red Zone tag or areas with a signifcant number of COVID-19 cases. This includes the capital city of Bengaluru which is a huge source of revenue in normal times. The state has reported 671 coronavirus cases so far, including 29 deaths.
Several restrictions are still in place in the state as part of the extended lockdown that kicked in on Monday. The BJP-ruled state government's revenue has been severely reduced since the lockdown was announced in March.
The opening of liquor shops on Monday saw sales of Rs 45 crore on the first day and Rs 197 crore on the second day.