Ahead of local body polls, Odisha govt. continues to announce goodies

COVID-19 relief of ₹1,000 per family would be given to 96 lakh beneficiaries

A day after the Odisha government announced that it would spend ₹1,440 crore from State exchequer towards repair of houses under rural housing schemes, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday also pledged to provide COVID-19 assistance for families.

Mr. Patnaik has sanctioned payment of ₹1,000 per family for beneficiaries of the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY). A total of ₹960 crore would be transferred to the bank accounts under the cash assistance programme.

The assistance seems to be part of a slew of goodies announced by the Biju Janata Dal ahead of panchayat and civic body polls in the State.

“About 96 lakh families will get the assistance. The State government would spend ₹960 crore from its own resources. As per the direction of Mr. Patnaik, assistance will have to be transferred to beneficiaries in seven days,” said a statement released by the government.

“Welfare of the poor is an important programme of the State government. The first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic were a challenge. This has badly impacted social and economic lives of people. The poor have suffered a lot. The impact of COVID has not faded. The government is giving the assistance to alleviate the suffering,” Mr. Patnaik said in the statement.

“The current variant, Omicron, is spreading its tentacles now. People should follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. They should wear masks, wash hands frequently and maintain physical distance, besides avoiding crowded places,” he added.

Meanwhile, a high level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra resolved to widen surveillance in wake of the Omicron threat. District Collectors have been authorised to take independent decisions to restrict gatherings keeping in mind the situation under their jurisdiction.

The Odisha government also announced ₹217 crore towards travel allowance and meeting fees for executive committee members of Gram Panchayat level federations and block level federations of Mission Shakti. Mission Shakti is a federation of 70 lakh women in the State. The government transferred ₹65 crore for interest subvention to 1.38 lakh self-help groups.

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