COVID crisis: Delhi govt to provide free ration; financial aid to auto, taxi drivers

The Delhi government will provide free ration for two months to 72 lakh ration card holders and financial assistance of Rs 5,000 to auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers in the city to help them tide over the COVID-19 crisis, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Tuesday.

However, the decision to provide free ration does not mean that the lockdown imposed in the city to break the chain of transmission will continue for two months, he said during an online briefing. The national capital is under lockdown till May 10 to check the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Kejriwal said he is hopeful that the situation in Delhi will improve and lockdown will not be needed. “The 72 lakh ration card holders in Delhi will be provided free ration for the next two months,” the chief minister said.

“Our decision to provide free ration for two months does not mean that the lockdown will continue for two months. We imposed the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID, and I am hopeful that we will end this as soon as possible,” he added.

Further, Kejriwal said, “The Delhi government provided financial assistance of Rs 5,000 to each of the 1.56 lakh auto and taxi drivers during the last year’s lockdown and will do so again this time to help them.” The Delhi government imposed a lockdown in the national capital to check the spread of COVID-19. However, lockdown creates a financial crisis for people, especially for the poor and daily wage earners who find it difficult to run their homes, he said.

Last week, the Delhi government had announced financial assistance of Rs 5,000 for construction workers, he said.

Describing the current situation in Delhi as a “very difficult time”, the chief minister appealed to people to help each other in finding hospital beds, oxygen, medicines and provide food wherever needed.

“We are undergoing a very difficult time and the second wave has been extremely dangerous. There is so much despair and sadness all around. This is the time to become good human beings and help each other,” he said. Kejriwal also called on all political parties to help people.

“I appeal to all political parties to rise above political affiliations and help people irrespective of their class, caste or religion,” he said. This is not the time to indulge in politics and everyone, whether they belong to BJP, Congress or AAP, should help those who have been hit by the pandemic, he said.

On Monday, Delhi saw a record 448 COVID-19 deaths that pushed the toll to 17,414 while 18,043 fresh cases took the tally to 12,12,989, according to a health department bulletin.

(Cover: Representational Image / Credit: Mayank Jain)

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