Patnaik Seeks Financial Concessions For Workers

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has sought financial assistance from the central government to compensate the MGNREGS workers, beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), farmers and construction workers. The lockdown across the state and beyond, to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus, will take a toll on the informal economy with workers at the bottom of the sphere taking the hardest hit.

During a videoconferencing session with Prime Minister Modi on Friday, Patnaik proposed the idea to pay the MGNREGS workers fifty days’ worth of salary in advance. Additional installments for farmers, under the Centre’s pioneering income support scheme called the PM-KISAN, were also amongst the demands.

Besides, the Chief Minister also made a host of other recommendations to the Prime Minister. He requested the Centre to release the state funds so that they could deal with the emerging crisis. He suggested scaling up the available testing facilities, with the ultimate goal of making testing free of cost for both public and private facilities. He also requested the Prime Minister to give special attention to the availability of critical healthcare equipment for the medical personnel who are proactively engaged in the process.

Patnaik appreciated the Centre’s move to restrict international travel by banning all incoming flights to India with effect from 22nd March, and its effort to airlift Indians stranded in virus-hit countries. As the Odisha government has already declared the pandemic as State Disaster, ₹225 crores have been earmarked from the SDRF fund to deal with the situation. The fund is being utilized to build quarantine facilities, provide remuneration and incentives, food and procuring medical equipment.