New Delhi, March 27 -- Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced Rs.500 a month for the next three months for 200 million poor women as part of a Rs.1,70,000 crore package of direct cash transfers and food for the poor to tide over the nationwide lockdown imposed on Wednesday to check the Covid-19 spread.

She said the money will be transferred to the account holders of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which was launched in 2014 to provide financial services to the poor and included the opening of no-frills bank accounts. Sitharaman said the government will set aside Rs.31000 crore for it.

Gas cylinders will also be provided free of cost to 80 million poor families for the next three months. The government has set asid...