For the people: Rajasthan’s welfare policies & precautions during Corona lockdown

Naseel Voici

During the Corona lockdown, When the central and various state governments are finding it difficult to find a balance between law enforcement and community wellbeing, the welfare policies of the Rajasthan Government is setting an example for the rest of the country. The well-oiled state administration under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy CM Sachin Pilot works swiftly in addressing the alarming situation and also in addressing the concern of the common people.

Giving Rs 1,000 to each poor family to a 5% increase in DA to the distribution of free ration to ₹25 crores for doctors and paramedical staff to the preparation of 1 lakh plus quarantine beds, The precautions, and community empowering measures taken by the Congress lead Government are widely appreciated and other states like Kerala, are following the same path.

Rikshaw Pullers, Street vendors… – Welfare for all during the lockdown

Rajasthan was also the first state to declare a complete lockdown of 10 days, on 21 March. Following the announcement, The Gehlot government immediately announced a Rs 2,000 crore relief package for supporting the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized people who have been deprived of their livelihood during the lockdown.

Benefitting 1.41 crore families to meet their daily needs, The Government also ensured Rs 1,000 Cash to each of the 36.51 lakh BPL families, 25 lakh construction workers and registered street vendors, rickshaw pullers, etc who are not covered under the social security pension scheme. The government informed that in case of the eligible family does not have a valid bank account, the district collectors could pay them in cash. For that, the state government had made available amounts available to the collectors.

Distribution of food packets to the street vendors, daily wage earners, poor people and needy families in the urban areas were also declared. These packets including items of need such as flour, pulses, rice, oil, etc. will be made available at every government building, police station, tehsil and panchayat building in urban and rural areas.

“During the lockdown, no needy will face any trouble and no person will sleep hungry, he said, adding that food will be delivered to the needy with the help of voluntary organizations and donors” – Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot Said. More than 1 crore families covered in the National Food Security Act (NFSA) were provided with wheat for two months.

Rajasthan COVID War Room

Special Fund for Doctors&Medical Staff. DA increase for Gov Staff

The Rajasthan government also increased the dearness allowance for its employees by 5%, to 17 percent from the existing 12 percent. The increase is expected to benefit about 8 lakh employees and 4.40 lakh pensioners. Two-month advance pension for the 7.8 million people, who get social security benefits, was also declared earlier.

A special fund of ₹25 crore for doctors and paramedical staff engaged in the fight against the dreaded virus was also announced by the state government.

Rajasthan is also the first state government that decided to reimburse State Tax due and deposited by hotels and tour operators. With Covid-19 taking its toll on the hospitality sector, the government order has come as a relief to the industry. The decision will come into effect from April 1 and will remain in force till June 30. The hospitality sector in other States is expecting similar actions.

War-footing to control the community spread

Rajasthan recorded its first coronavirus case on 2 March. Since the day, the state health department worked round the clock to prevent the spread. The screening process was ensured and the state government also ordered a ban on usage of breath-analyzers by traffic police officials and biometric attendance in government offices. Complete lockdown and sealing of borders have helped Rajasthan in controlling the spread to a large extend. As of 28 March, the number of positive cases in the state is 54.

Soon after the first case was reported, War rooms were set up under the directives of Chief Minister. District collectors are now instructed to hire doctors and nursing staff at the local level on an urgent temporary basis to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The government also permitted the legislators to spend up to 100% of their MLA funds for social welfare and food arrangements for the poor. They will now be able to recommend up to Rs 5 lakh instead of Rs 1 lakh from the MLA fund for medical equipment.

Bhilwara town, situated 250 km from Jaipur, still continues to be the hotbed of coronavirus infection. District authorities have launched steps on a war-footing to control the community spread of the virus in the region.

Under the directives of the state health department, In the biggest screening exercise undertaken in the district, 1,948 teams of health workers have surveyed 4.22 lakh families in both the urban and rural areas and examined 21.64 lakh persons. Hotels, resorts, hostels and dharamshalas in the area are already acquired to arrange 1,500 quarantine beds and 14,400 normal beds to meet an emergency situation. A 24-hour screening center is also established in Bhilwara.

COVID-19 Relief Fund

A special Relief Fund was also established in Rajasthan to receive donations from the public.  Soon after CM’s appeal, funds poured into the relief actions starting from the Ministers to the Opposition leaders.

Governor Kalraj Mishra on Monday donated a month’s salary of 3.5 laksh and 20 laksh from Governor’s relief fund. Every minister is asked to donate 1 laksh and Congress MLA’s will donate their one month salary.

Employees of Raj Bhavan decided to donate one day’s salary, adding to the one-day salary donation of All Rajasthan Government Employee’s Federation, which will sum up to Rs 200 Crore by 8 Lakh Employees.

Last day, CM Ashok Gehlot tweeted that the state government is ready to bear all expenditure to bring the people of Rajasthan who include workers (skilled & semi-skilled) tourists, students, who are in distress and stuck in other states.

Coordinating between state departments, District administration and even opposition leaders, Rajasthan is setting up a perfect example of collective working patterns during the time of a pandemic outbreak. Not only health safety measures, but the state government is also focussing on the welfare of the common public, who are deprived of their livelihood during the lockdown. It doesn’t forget its people while enforcing a health emergency. This humanitarian face of the Congress lead Rajasthan government is definitely a model to remember which unfortunately many other states, including the central government, fail to follow.

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