PARVEEN NEGI CHENNAI l FRIDAY l MARCH 27, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 28 l LATE CITY EDITION MORE GRAINS AT PDS OUTLETS FREE GAS CYLINDERS 5 kg wheat/rice and 1 kg pulses per month free to 80 cr ration card holders for three months. This is over and above the grains you are entitled to buy 8.3 crorethe Ujjwala beneficiaries of scheme that offered gas connections, to now get free LPG cylinders for 3 months L1,500 DOLE TO WOMEN Women Jan Dhan account holders to get `500 per month for three months to run their households SUPPORT TO FARM SECTOR SENIOR CITIZEN OUTREACH 8.69advance relief instalment `1,000 ex-gratia farmers to get for senior of `2,000 each in April 1st week. It is part of the annual `6,000 deposited in their accounts under PM-Kisan scheme citizens, widows and disabled in two instalments We do not want anyone to remain hungry, so we will be giving them enough to take care of their food requirements - Nirmala Sitharaman, FM PROTECTING HEALTHCARE WORKERS insurance cover to for doctors, paramedic and healthcare workers who are in the first line of defence against the pandemic `50 lakh HIGHER WAGES FOR RURAL JOBS Daily wage under MNREGA scheme increased to `202 from `182. Will come into play after the lockdown is lifted CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI PF WITHDRAWAL RESTRICTIONS EASED You can withdraw up to 75% of your PF balance or up to three months of wages, whichever is lower `1.7 LAKH CRORE AID TO THE POOR MORE MONEY IN YOUR EPF ACCOUNT BIG NUMBERS `45,000 crore `31,000 crore Cost of free foodgrains and pulses Dole to women Jan Dhan account holders Govt to pay EPF contribution on behalf of employees and employers for next three months for all firms with less than 100 employees `17,000 crore Estimated outgo to pay `2,000 to 8.69 crore farmers EASY LOANS TO WOMEN SHGS `20 lakh collateral-free loans to 63 lakh women self-help groups, up from `10 lakh earlier. Expected to help 7 crore households `13,000 crore Cost of providing free cooking gas cylinders HELPING CONSTRUCTION WORKERS Migrant labourers from Andhra who work in Chennai trudging their way back home due to the lockdown | D SAMPATH KUMAR Existing nationwide welfare fund for construction workers estimated at L31,000 crore to be used for supporting the sector Good first shot, now go for a six Large chunk of relief already accounted for in general budget, so it’s not as big as it is made out to be; bigger support sought for vulnerable sections and industry J AYA N TA R O Y C H O W D H U R Y & A N U R A D H A S H U K L A @ New Delhi THE Centre on Thursday announced a `1.7 lakh crore economic stimulus plan including direct cash transfers and free foodgrain in a bid to give relief to the poor hit by a nationwide lockdown over the pandemic. The package combined old schemes such as direct cash transfers to farmers with fresh relief measures including a wage increase for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee programme, and dipped into existing funds such as building and construction workers welfare fund, to offer relief to the poor. Of the `1.7 lakh crore announced by the FM, `70,000 crore was already budgeted for under existing schemes. “The government is using existing schemes as it is easier to identify beneficiaries. This needs to be complemented with more sectoral plans,” said Prof N R Bhanumurthy of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy . While experts welcomed the emergency relief measures to help the poor, many feel the government needs to do more. “The package is not going to help with the extreme collapse of activity we have seen,” said Jayati Ghosh, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University “A lot . of the schemes announced were existing ones. MGNREGA wage increase was anyway overdue. Because there is no work and we are talking about complete closure of economic activities, the money should be directly transferred to the ac- PSU BANKS OFFER EMERGENCY LINE OF CREDIT Bank of Baroda, Indian Bank, Union Bank and Canara Bank have followed State Bank of India in launching Covid-19 Emergency Credit Lines. BoB said it has rolled out Baroda Covid Emergency Credit Line to provide emergency loans to existing MSME and corporate borrowers. Indian Bank has announced five special emergency loan schemes for large corporates, MSMEs, self-help groups, salaried persons and pensioners. Similarly, Canara Bank has brought in Canara Credit Support for customers to tide over liquidity issues | P10 PUT WELL BEING OF HUMANITY FIRST, MODI TELLS G20 NATIONS P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi LEADERS PLEDGE TO INJECT $5 TRILLION G20 nations pledged to inject $5 trillion into the global economy to counter the pandemic amid forecasts of a deep recession. “We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat,” the leaders said in a joint statement after the summit. PRIME Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on coronavirus on Thursday called for a new globalisation for collective well being of the entire humankind, noting that medical research should be freely and openly available for all countries. The PM also called for greater international cooperation on humanitarian issues and pitched for the development of a new crisis management protocol and procedures to deal with global health crises, like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While the pandemic was a challenge, it also offered an opportunity for the world to coop- erate on more humanitarian issues like climate change, terrorism and pandemics, he said calling for shared research on new drugs and early warning systems to better deal with such crises in future. He said financial and economic issues had overshadowed cooperation and called for global intervention on more humane issues. “There was consensus on sharing vital agricultural products and medical equipment. Also, sharing technical knowhow of dealing with pandemics was agreed upon,” sources said. “The leaders agreed that it was PM Modi’s initiative that the G20, for the first time in its history was meeting to discuss an , issue which did not pertain to economy or finance.” Highest virus fatality in a day, but India not in community transmission list yet S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi AT least four more coronavirus deaths were reported across the country on Thursday, the highest in a day so far, taking the toll to 17. However, the Union health ministry dismissed concerns of community transmission of the virus. The total number of confirmed cases validated by the ministry stands at 694. A total of 80 cases were reported on Thursday alone according to the ministry. Further reports of fresh cases came in from across the country with Kerala , topping the list at 19. Five more people tested positive in Gujarat, taking its total count to 44. Four more fresh cases were reported from Uttar Pradesh, while Maharashtra added three to its count. The Union health ministry said that the rise in the number of cases in India is “relatively stable”. “The country is fully geared up to take the big challenge even if our efforts are on to contain the spread of the virus,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Meanwhile, more reports emerged about people who have tested positive for the infection without any travel or contact history with infected people. For example, in nearly 6 per cent of the total 116 cases in Maharashtra (till Wednesday), the reasons for the infection were “inconclusive”. Officials said 17 states have initiated the process of earmarking hospitals for Covid-19 patients. One of the fatalities happened in Mumbai, where a 65-year-old woman who had tested positive for the virus, died at a hospital. P4,5,7,9,10 counts of the MGNREGA workers,” she added. The measures won’t mitigate the crisis, especially for rural workers, said Arun Kumar, economics professor at Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi. “It is welcome, but it may not be enough when we are estimating a loss of `9 lakh crore to our GDP because of the coronavirus crisis.” Over eight crore farmers, who were given `6,000 relief money last year, will be given the first instalment of `2,000 soon as many are unable to sell their produce as supply chains remain disrupted. For the organised sector, the FM said the government will pay both employers’ and employees’ PF contribution for three months. CONTINUED ON: P10 3 more test positive in TN; total touches 29 E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Chennai THREE more persons tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday taking the total number of cases in TN to 29. A media bulletin from the Directorate of Public Health gave details about the three patients. One of them is a 24-year-old man belonging to Erode who returned from Dubai. He landed at the Tiruchy airport and is undergoing treatment at KAPV Medical College Hospital, Tiruchy The second is a 24-year. old resident of Chennai, who returned from London and has been admitted to Kilpauk Medical College. The third is a 65-year-old woman, a resident of Chennai who has been in contact with the 24-year-old. Meanwhile, a 40-year-old man who was admitted with symptoms of COVID-19 at Kanniyakumari GH and died, has tested negative. Sources said he was affected by brain fever at the time of admission and also had pancreatic issues. Giving details of screening, the bulletin said, “As many as 2,09,284 passeng ers were screened at the international airports in TN till date. As on date, 15,788 passengers are under home quarantine for 28 days. In addition, a list of 86,644 passengers given by Bureau of Immigration is being verified in the district. Currently, 109 asymptomatic passengers are being quarantined in facilities near the airports and 284 are under hospital isolation.” WITH THIS ISSUE CHENNAI’S BEST WEEKEND GUIDE 28 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF INDULGE (TABLOID) NO INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS TILL APRIL 14 In line with the three-week lockdown, all international flights will remain suspended till April 14 WHO’S REBUKE The global community squandered the first window of opportunity in addressing the pandemic, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago,” he said STAY PUT IN THE PHILIPPINES Hundreds of Indian students stranded in the Philippines can fly back home when the travel ban is lifted, the Indian embassy said 2 MINORS INFECTED TWO SIBLINGS, BOTH MINORS, TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS IN SRINAGAR. ONE OF THEM IS AN EIGHT-MONTH-OLD. HIS GRANDFATHER HAD A TRAVEL HISTORY TO SAUDI ARABIA HUNDREDS BOOKED Hundreds of people across India were booked for violating lockdown. Drones, too, were deployed to warn people against stepping out of their homes As President of the Indian National Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taken by the Union Government to ensure the containment of the pandemic Sonia Gandhi 54K from abroad to be home quarantined EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai TIGHTENING screws on enforcement of the lockdown to prevent spread of COVID-19, the State government on Thursday ordered that 54,000 people who arrived from foreign countries should be home quarantined and remain under surveillance. An order released later in the day by the Revenue and Distater Management said persons who have arrived after February 15 will have to remain under home quarantine. This supercedes a GO dated March 23, that all suspected cases or foreign returnees, who arrived after March 1, will be directed to undergo home quarantine. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami chaired a meeting with all Collectors through video conference at the Secretariat, for over three hours. Official sources said he told the Collectors to ensure that police do not behave in a highhanded manner with the public. “People who were in touch with those infected have also been home quarantined. Since their movement is banned, the Collectors should take steps to supply all essential goods to these families. Criminal action will be taken against those who step out,” a release said. The government has clarified that hotels and grocery shops will function throughout the day and no time slots have been fixed for them. The important decisions taken at the meeting include formal extension of State-wide lockdown till April 14 in line with the Centre’s decision, formation of nine teams headed by senior IAS officers to resolve issues arising out of the lockdown, ensure all essential services to people without any hurdle and setting up of help centres in all district headquarters to ensure supply and transportation of essential commodities. In Chennai, it will function from the Corporation office. No high-handed behaviour, says CM Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has advised the District Collectors to ensure that the police do not behave in a high-handed manner with anybody who breaks the lockdown order Coming to the rescue of people at the grassroots level, the government ordered: “Private banks, minor financial organisations, self-help groups are c o l l e c t i n g d a i ly / we e k ly / monthly interest along with principal amount from those who had taken loans. This should be stopped until further orders and severe criminal action will be taken against those who violate this.” P4 ‘RISKY’ LOVE Man jumps quarantine to meet lover V I G N E S H V @ Madurai/Sivaganga THE weak would never enter the kingdom of love, says Gabriel García Márquez in his monumental Love in the Time of Cholera. When a 22-year-old youth jumped the quarantine facility in Madurai and rode all the way to Sivaganga, the inspiration behind his grievous transgression was love. The youth had got wind of his lover from Sivaganga getting married to another man on March 30 under parental pressure. Anxious to meet her, he managed to board a flight from the one of the hotbeds of infection: Dubai. He landed in Mumbai, from where he reached Madurai on March 21. Unfortunately, he was sent to a quarantine centre at Chinnaudaippu. However, on Wednesday night he jumped the facility, borrowed his friend’s bike and rode to Sivaganga to meet his lover. Meanwhile, his absence did not go unnoticed, with the Deputy Director of District Health Education raising an alert. The Avaniyapuram po- lice registered a man missing case and alerted the neighbouring Sivaganga police. By the time a police team nabbed him on Thursday, he had been with the girl for hours. While the youth was brought back to Madurai, the girl was placed under home quarantine in Sivaganga. The police remain tightlipped on the action to be taken against the youth or whether the girl’s marriage is still on. ALL THE WAY TO STOP LOVER’S WEDDING The youth had got information that his lover from Sivaganga was to marry another man on March 30 under parental pressure. Anxious to meet her, he came to Madurai from Dubai but was quarantined.
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