Telangana, Andhra lock down till March 31, announce sops for BPL families

Along with the lock-down decision, which includes the closure of interstate borders, chief minister Rao also announced an economic package worth of Rs 3,520 crore to provide relief to 8.8 million families
Telangana chief minster K Chandrasekhar Rao on Sunday declared complete lock-down of the state till March 31 in order to contain the spread of new coronavirus even as the total number of cases jumped to 26.

Along with the lock-down decision, which includes the closure of interstate borders, chief minister Rao also announced an economic package worth of Rs 3,520 crore to provide relief to 8.8 million families having white (below poverty line) ration cards.

"People of Telangana have showed great unity and solidarity with their 100 percent participation in Janata Curfew by staying indoors all across the state. I want them to extend the same spirit till March 31 during the lock-down since it is the only way to protect ourselves from the deadly coronavirus contagion," chief minister Rao said in a media briefing.

In view of possible loss of livelihood and other difficulties from the week-long lock down, the government will provide 3.36 lakh tonnes of rice at the rate of 12 kg  person for all BPL families at a cost of Rs 1,103 crore free of cost immediately. Along with rice, the government will also give a cash assistance of Rs 1,500 per family towards purchase of other food items, at a total budget of Rs 1,304 crore, according to the chief minister. This one time economic package will benefit 85.4 percent of the total households in Telangana.

While announcing the package the chief minister has appealed to the private employers in construction and other sectors to pay the wages to their workers during the lock-down period without work as the government is also extend a similar gesture with regard to the daily wage workers engaged in the ongoing government works.

The chief minister said that the import of coronavirus cases will come to an end as the Centre had suspended entry of all international flights by tomorrow and all that the people and the government have to focus on containing the local spread of the deadly virus. Barring one case, in which a family member contracted the infection from the other family member, rest of those people who tested positive for coronavirus have contracted the virus abroad.

Lock down of the state is being enforced under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, which give extraordinary powers to the government agencies and violations will be taken seriously, the chief minister warned.

During the lock down period, all the public transport facilities, private buses, cabs and autos will be suspended in the state. Authorities will not allow even the private cars to enter Telangana from other states. While essential services, stores selling daily essentials, including medicines will be allowed to function during this period. "Only one person per family will venture out to purchase the essentials and they should also maintain a distance from other customers while doing the purchases at those stores," chief minister advised the people.

Telangana government has also asked the government staff working in departments other than the essential services to attend the offices on a rotation basis at the rate of 20 percent staff each week.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh government has also announced similar steps, including a complete lock-down of the state till March 31, in the wake of ongoing coronavirus scare. Briefing the media about the state government's latest decisions on Sunday evening, AP chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said the lock-down was essential to contain the spread of coronavirus into the state. "I would say that the lock down will be even more effective if the entire country enforces the lock-down measures," chief minister Reddy said while asking people not to venture out of their offices during the lock down period.

Andhra Pradesh government will also close the interstate borders, stop the public and private carriages and inter-state movement of passengers completely between March 23-31.

AP government will give free rice along with 1 kg tur dal besides Rs 1000 cash to every family under the BPL category in the state. This economic package will cost Rs 1,500 crore to the government exchequer.

Chief minister Reddy warned that the government will take strict action against those who try to increase the prices of essentials commodities. 

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