As of April 10, the government has transferred Rs 28,256 crore in financial assistance to 31.77 crore people under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package for the impact of the nationwide lockdown for COVID-19, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said the existing “digital pipeline” of JanDhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) has been used for transferring this assistance, as the infrastructure provides for DBT flows, adoption of social security/pension schemes. This also includes biometric payments such as AePS and Bhim Aadhaar Pay.
The government said the digital payments infrastructure also includes 60 crore issued RuPay debit cards (of which 29 crore are issued to Jan Dhan account holders), UPI, and Bharat Bill Payments System (BBPS). However, it’s unclear how RuPay or BBPS could be used for transfers as the former is a debit card payments network, and the other is a utility bill payments platform, both developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
The following is a breakup of the transfer under different government programs:
- Transfer to PMJDY women account holders: Rs 9,930 crore to 19.86 crore beneficiaries
- Front-loaded payments to farmers under PM-KISAN: Rs 13,855 crore to 6.93 crore people (out of 8 crore beneficiaries)
- Transfer under National Social Assistance Program (widows, senior citizens, and Divyang): Rs 1,405 crore to 2.82 crore beneficiaries
- For building and construction workers: Rs 3,066 crore to Rs 2.16 crore beneficiaries
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the relief package worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore on March 26, and had said that it will give immediate help to migrant labourers and daily wage labourers.
The 21-day nationwide lockdown for COVID-19, which is likely to be extended, triggered a humanitarian crisis, with migrant labourers leaving cities en masse to return to their homes in rural India. The lockdown brought transport, informal work, retail, construction work, and most economic activity except for essential services to a halt, suspending the livelihood of millions in the informal economy.