SONIA GANDHI WRITES TO PM MODI SUPPORTS 21 DAY CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN

SONIA GANDHI WRITES TO PM MODI SUPPORTS 21 DAY CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN
The 1stnewz Staff : Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday voiced her support to the 21-day lockdown announced in view of the coronavirus outbreak, and suggested several measures such as protection of doctors, easing the supply chains and deferment of loans. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping across the world had caused serious public health concerns, anguish and apprehensions in India, she wrote in her letter to the prime minister. At this challenging and uncertain time, she said it was imperative for each one of us to rise above partisan interests and honour our duty towards our country and indeed, towards humanity. "It has imperiled lives and put at risk the lives and livelihoods of millions, particularly, the most vulnerable sections of our society. The entire nation stands as one in solidarity in the fight to halt and defeat the Corona pandemic," Gandhi added. She noted that the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by the prime minister as a measure to fight the coronavirus was a welcome step. "As President of the Indian National Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taken by the Union Government to ensure the containment of the pandemic," Gandhi said. "It is in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation therefore, that I would like to suggest some measures that I believe will help us address the massive health crisis we are about to face and to ameliorate the immense economic and existential pain that vulnerable sections of our society will soon be subjected to," the Congress chief said. She stressed on the need to arm doctors, nurses and health workers with personal protection equipment, including N-95 masks and hazmat suits. The Congress chief suggested that the centre consider deferring all EMIs for 6 months and waive interests charged by banks for this period. She also said the government should "immediately put in place broad-based social protection measures including direct cash transfers" to daily wagers, MNREGA workers, factor workers, construction workers, farmers and others in the unorganized sector. Sonia Gandhi also recommended her party's NYAY scheme for minimum income support as the "need of the hour", to give the poor a basic economic resource to fall back on. "Alternatively, a cash transfer of Rs 7,500 to every Jan Dhan account holder, PM Kisan Yojana account holder, all old-age/widow/differently-abled persons' pension, MNREGA worker's accounts, as a one-time special measure to tide over the 21-day lockdown period should be considered," she wrote. The Congress president said 10 kg of rice or wheat could be distributed to ration card holders free of cost during this period.

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