Around 40,000 women belonging to self-help groups in Andhra Pradesh are earning Rs 500 per day by making face masks for the state government’s programme to distribute 16 crore free masks among people across the state to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The government’s programme to provide three masks to every citizen has given employment to the women at a time when the families are reeling under the impact of outbreak of coronavirus and the resultant lockdown.

The self-help groups are making the masks at the rate of  Rs 3.5 per mask, with each of the 40,000 women tailors earning ₹500 a day.

Instead of giving the mask orders to contractors, Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy entrusted the job to women’s groups to give them an opportunity to earn some money and thus help their families, says the government.

It is procuring the required cloth for the making of masks from APCO, the cooperative society of handloom weavers. According to officials, 1.50 crore meter cloth is required for making 16 crore masks. They have already procured over 20 lakh meter cloth.

Officials said 7.28 lakh masks were readied by Sunday. They plan to increase the output to 30 lakh per day in four to five days.

The distribution of masks has started in red zones and it will be soon taken in other areas.

Officials said the chief minister’s programme for mask distribution is not only strengthening the steps to check the spread of coronavirus but is also providing employment to women in the time of pandemic.

Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Municipal Areas (MEPMA) officials supervising mask production showed the chief minister, who appreciated the work being done by women groups.