New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Tuesday the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), a free ration scheme, for 80 crore people across the country till end of November. In a televised address to the nation, Narendra Modi also said the Centre was working on a ‘one nation, one ration card’ initiative. On the extension of the PMGKAY, he said it will cost the government Rs 90,000 crore more.
Under the scheme, five kgs of wheat or rice and one kg of pulses per month will be given free of cost to the poor. The scheme was initially rolled out for three months.
Modi lamented Tuesday the increase in negligence in personal and social behaviour since ‘Unlock-1’. The ‘Unlock 1.0’ phase was introduced June 1 when coronavirus lockdown curbs were eased. Narendra Modi said no one is above law in India be it a village pradhan or the head of the government.
In his address to the nation, the prime minister also observed that rules were followed very strictly during the nationwide lockdown imposed March 25. He added there is a need to be alert and more careful during the ‘Unlock’ phase.
“But we have also seen that since Unlock-1, there is increasing negligence in personal and social behaviour. Earlier, we were very careful with respect to wearing of masks, social distancing and washing of hands for 20 seconds. But today, when we need to be more careful, increasing negligence is a cause of worry,” Modi stated.
“During the unlock phase, governments, local bodies and people need to show similar alertness. We especially need to focus more on containment zones,” Modi stressed. “The country has been witnessing a rapid surge in coronavirus cases since June 1. Those not following the rules will need to be stopped and cautioned.
“You must have seen in the news, prime minister of a country was fined Rs 13,000 for not wearing a mask in public place. In India too, the local administration should work with the same enthusiasm. This is a drive to protect the lives of 130 crore people. Be it a village pradhan or the prime minister, no one is above the law in India,” Modi added.
India will be entering Unlock-2 from July 1 for which guidelines were issued Monday night by the Union Home Ministry. It is for further easing of the restrictions imposed due to the lockdown.
Modi also said that considering the COVID-19 death rate, India is comparatively in a better position compared to many countries of the world. “Timely imposition of lockdown and other decisions have saved lakhs of lives,” he said.
With 18,522 people testing positive for COVID-19 in a single day, India’s case count reached 5,66,840 Tuesday. The death toll rose to 16,893 with 418 new fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data. The number of active cases stands at 2,15,125, while 3,34,821 people have recovered.