It’s been a little over a week since India went into lockdown mode. Since then the government has announced a slew of measures to help the economy and its citizens. From extending the deadline of filing taxes to offering the chance to withdraw money from the Provident Fund account, the government has been coming up with various schemes to ease the burden that the COVID-19 crisis has put us all in.
Let’s take a look at some of these measures.
1. Validity of Vehicle documents
Till 30 June 2020, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways would treat as valid, all documents under the Motor Vehicle Act and Rules, that expired between 1 February 2020 and 30 June 2020.
The Ministry has initiated this move as it would be difficult during the COVID-19 outbreak to get documents verified, permits extended, and licenses renewed. The documents include fitness, permit (all types), driving licence, registration or any other concerned document under the Motor Vehicles Act.
2. Validity Extended on Pre-Paid Numbers
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked telecom operators to extend the validity period of prepaid users to ensure that subscribers get uninterrupted services during the national lockdown. The authority has also put this on priority and asked all the operators to revert with the necessary steps that have been taken.
Taking a cue from this, each operator was quick to announce helpful measures. Airtel and Vodafone have extended the validity of the prepaid plans to April 17 and also credited Rs 10 talktime in the accounts of the low-income customers.
Reliance’s Jio announced that they would provide 100 minutes of talk time and 100 text messages to all its users till 17 April 2020. The company also said that the customers will be able to receive incoming calls on their Jio numbers even if the validity of their existing packs have ended.
3. Insurance Scheme for COVID-19 Health Workers
The Finance Minister, in an announcement, made last week, said that a Rs 50 lakh insurance cover per person will be set aside for frontline health workers involved in managing the COVID-19 outbreak.
This scheme will be beneficial to sanitation staff, doctors, Asha workers, paramedics and nurses. According to the details of the scheme, it will also include accidental loss of life on account of contracting COVID-19. This insurance cover would be over and above any other insurance cover being availed of by the beneficiary.
4. Lifeline Udan
Launched by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Lifeline Udan is a scheme in which domestic and international flights will help in the movement of essential cargo. The main objective of this scheme is to ensure that medical supplies are ferried to and fro across the country.
According to the Ministry, as many as 62 Lifeline Udan flights have been operated under this initiative during the five day period from 26 March 2020 to 30 March 2020, transporting more than 15.4 tons of essential medical supplies.
On the international front, Air India has established a cargo air-bridge between India and China. Regular cargo flights for transporting critical medical equipment and supplies between the two countries are likely to be operated by Air India from 3 April 2020 onwards.
5. Retirement for Central and State Government Employees
Those Central and State Government employees, who have attained the age of superannuation as on 31 March 2020, will retire irrespective of whether they are working from home or working from office.
The order said, “In view of the unprecedented situation arising out of countrywide lockdown declared by the government consequent to the outbreak of COVID-19, it is clarified that the central government employees who are attaining the age of superannuation on 31 March 2020, in terms of Fundamental Rule 56 and due to retire, shall retire from Central government service on 31 March 2020, irrespective of whether they are working from home or office.”
There seems to be a concerted and coordinated approach between multiple agencies to ensure that essential services continue to operate unhindered, and the government is working across various fronts to ensure that citizens don’t feel more pain than what they are already undergoing. These steps may seem small, but to those they apply to, it could mean everything.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)