Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the nation for the sixth time since the novel coronavirus outbreak. He spoke on a slew of issues concerning the nation including India’s Unlock 2.0 plan of resuming services in a phased and calibrated manner and on Centre's 'free food grains for poor' scheme.
Modi stressed on the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distance in order to contain the spread of Covid-19. "Since Unlock 1, negligence in personal and social behaviour is also increasing. At first, we were very cautious about the mask, about 'do gaz ki doori' social distancing, washing hands several times a day for 20 seconds. During lockdown, rules were followed seriously. Now the governments, local bodies and citizens need to show alertness in the same manner," he said.
He urged the citizens to take care of themselves during such crucial times of virus pandemic.
"We are entering into Unlock 2. We are also entering into season where cold, cough, fever cases increase. I request citizens to take care of themselves. It is true that if we look at the death rate due to coronavirus, then India is in a better position than many countries of the world. Timely lockdown and other decisions have saved the lives of millions of people in India," he said.
Modi's address focussed mainly on the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana and announced that Centre's 'free food grains for poor' scheme be extended till the end of November.
Free ration will be given to over 800 million people, he said. The extension of the scheme to cost over ₹90 thousand crore, he added. This will then amount to a total of ₹1.5 lakh crore of government's expenditure since the lockdown began three months back, Modi said.
In the extended scheme for poor, Modi said that Centre in these upcoming five months will be giving fie kilo of wheat or rice for free. He also said that the government will provide one kilo of chana for every family per month.
"Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, we announced a package of Rs. 1.75 lakh crore. In the last 3 months, Rs. 31,000 crore deposited in bank accounts of 20 crore poor families. Also, Rs. 18000 crore deposited in bank accounts of more than 9 crore farmers," Modi stated during the address.
PM hailed farmers and honest tax payers for their contribution in making the welfare scheme successful.
Earlier today, Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparations being undertaken for vaccination against novel coronavirus, as and when a vaccine is available.
During the meeting, Modi also listed four guiding principles that will form the foundation of the national effort of producing Covid-19 vaccine, whenever it is available.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday issued new guidelines for Unlock 2 which will come into force from 1 July. The new norms have extended the process of phased re-opening of activities including the calibrated expansion of domestic flights and passenger trains
The Prime Minister's address comes in the wake of rising novel coronavirus cases and deaths in the country. As of Tuesday, a spike of 18,522 Covid-19 cases in past 24 hours took India's tally to 5,66,840 even as the recovery rate further improved to 59.06%, according to latest figures from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The death toll has climbed to 16,893 with 418 new fatalities in 24 hours, it added. However, the gap between recovered patients and active cases has widened to 1.19 lakh.