Ex-CM demands special package for unorganised sector

Siddaramaiah demands special package for unorganised sector workers

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday demanded that the Karnataka government announce a "special package" for unorganised sector workers, street vendors and autorickshaw drivers, among others, all daily wagers whose lives are affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. "..a special package needs to be announced to this section of people, this is the demand," Siddaramaiah, who is also Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, told reporters here.

Alleging that the government has failed to control the spread of coronavirus, he said it is the government's responsibility to take care of the basic needs of those from the unorganised sector, whose lives have been impacted by the lockdown. "It is the duty of the government and they should do it immediately. The package should also be announced. I will hold discussions with leaders of other opposition parties like JD(S), CPI, CPI(M) and BSP in this regard and also on trouble faced by farmers," he added. Alleging discrimination in supply of food packets and ration kits, Siddaramaiah said it was being supplied properly only in constituencies represented by BJP legislators.

"Politics is being played out in supply of food materials to the needy, keeping corporation elections in mind.... We don't want to do politics at this point in time as there is lockdown. If things continue to be the same after the lockdown ends, we will protest on the streets," he said.

Siddaramaiah on Tuesday interacted with representatives of auto rickshaw and cab drivers, street vendors, barbers, unorganised workers organisations, among others, to understand the difficulties faced by them during the lockdown and to know whether help from the government has reached them. He said most of them don't have work and it has become difficult for them to lead their normal lives.

They raised several issues like auto and cab drivers being unable to pay road tax and EMI, he said, adding that he would write a detailed letter to the Chief Minister in this regard The former Chief Minister pointed out that there is about 21 lakh registered organised workers, 1.32 crore lakh unorganised workers and also agriculture labourers in the state.

"Among organised workers only 12.5 of the 21 lakh are said to be getting Rs 2000, that too from the Employees Welfare Fund, while others could not get any money, citing reasons like they have not renewed it," he said.

On the other hand, unorganised sector workers don't get money and were also not getting proper food or ration kits, he alleged Though the labour department claimed that it was supplying one lakh food packets and 1.5 lakh ration kits, as also corporations, there were leakages and it was not reaching the beneficiaries properly, he said.