By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, March 21, 2020: The Odisha government on Saturday announced to give 5 kg of rice at Rs 1 a kg to 5 lakh poor and deprived people keeping the Coronavirus disease in view.

The food supply and consumer welfare department in a notification said the 5 lakh new beneficiaries would get the rice under state’s food security scheme that was started in October 2018. The addition of the 5 lakh new beneficiaries would take the total number of beneficiaries under the State scheme to 25 lakh.

The government would spend Rs 96 crore for the 5 lakh new beneficiaries.

The state government alson on Saturday announced lockdown in 5 of its districts and 8 major towns for next 8 days to prevent community transmission of the Coronavirus.

Meanwhile, during a video-conference meeting with PM Modi on Friday, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had sought financial support from the Centre for people like NREGS workers, beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act, farmers and construction workers due to restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus. During the videoconferencing Patnaik demanded that NREGS workers be paid wages of at least 50 days in advance. He also sought additional instalments for farmers under the Centre’s income support scheme called PM Kisan.

Having announced Covid-19 a state disaster, Patnaik has sanctioned Rs 225 crore form the state disaster response fund to take up measures like developing quarantine facilities, arranging temporary accommodation, food and medical care for the people sheltered in quarantine camps, setting up of additional testing labs and procurement of essential equipment to deal with the situation.

To ensure the availability of cash with old age people the state government has already announced to distribute old-age pensions of four months (April-July) in advance.

Meanwhile, the School and Mass Education department announced that dry ration will be given to students of Class I to VIII of government and government aided schools for next 90 days. The department asked the district collectors to provide dry ration of 3 kg rice per month to the primary student (Class I-V) and 4.5 kg rice per month to each upper primary student (Class VI-VIII) through Fair Price Shops/ PDS outlets. The headmaster of each school will give a coupon to parents/ guardians certifying that the student is a bonafide student of the school.

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