Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday claimed the Rs 1,000 crore allocated by the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, better known as PM Cares, to support states’ welfare measures for migrant workers affected by the nationwide lockdown will not reach them.
On Wednesday, the prime minister’s office said that Rs 3,100 crore from the PM Cares fund trust will be used for coronavirus relief, including funds for ventilators, migrant workers and vaccine development. The announcement came one-and-a-half months after the fund was set up on March 28. However, there is no indication in the statement or on the PM CARES website how much money the fund has collected from donors in that time.
“PM-CARES has allocated Rs 1000 crore for migrant workers,” Chidambaram tweeted. “Please don’t make the common mistake. The money will not be given to the migrant workers but to the state governments to meet the expenses of travel, accommodation, medicine and food for the migrant workers. But nothing will go to the hands of the migrant workers.”
The Congress leader asked how a migrant worker will survive if he did not have any source of income. “Let’s take a migrant worker who has crossed all hurdles and returned to his village,” Chidambaram said. “There are no jobs in the village. He has no work and no income. How will he survive and support his family?”
The Rs 1,000 crore from the fund will be used to support states’ welfare measures for migrant workers, and will help provide accommodation, food, medical treatment and transport, a statement from the prime minister’s office said. State-wise allocations will be determined on the basis of population (50% weightage), number of positive coronavirus cases (40% weightage) and a 10% share split equally to ensure a basic minimum sum for all the states. The money will be released to the district administration through the state disaster relief commissioners.
Of the Rs 3,100 crore, Rs 2,000 crore will be used to purchase ventilators to augment the health infrastructure needed to tackle the pandemic and Rs 100 crore will be given to support those in Indian academia, start-ups and industry who are working on designing and developing a vaccine against the infection.
The PM Cares fund, which decided these allocations, is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his official capacity. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are the other members of the PM Cares Fund Trust.