NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved 3 per cent hike in Dearness Allowance (DA) and Dearness Relief (DR) given to central government employees and pensioners. With this the DA for such employees now stands at 31 per cent from 28 per cent earlier. The hike will be applicable from July 1, 2021. It will directly benefit 47.14 lakh central government employees and 68.62 lakh pensioners, Union minister Anurag Thakur said while briefing the media. The increase in DA and DR will impose an additional annual burden of Rs 9,488.7 crore on the exchequer, the minister said. In July, the Centre had increased DA from 17 per cent to 28 per cent after almost a year long gap. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre had frozen the three additional instalments of the DA and DR which were due from January 1, 2020, July 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021. Thakur also congratulated citizens of the country for crossing the 100 crore-mark vaccination doses. “All citizens, especially those working at the forefront, are concerned about this Covid warriors have a great contribution to make. I congratulate all of this,” he said.