FORMER MAHARASHTRA chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday claimed102 Indians, including a few from Maharashtra, were stranded in coronavirus-hit Italy, which has seen at least 827 fatalities till now.
Contending that these people have sent an SOS seeking evacuation as soon as possible, Chavan asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to come up with an evacuation plan for them in consultation with the Union government.
Speaking during a discussion on the spread of Covid-19 in the Legislative Assembly, Chavan said: “Two of them are from Mumbai. Another 44 people from Kolhapur and Sangli districts were among those stranded due to lockdown measures in place to contain the spread of the virus.”
The former CM, who claimed he had also established contact with officials at the Union Ministry of External Affairs over the issue, contended that “a team of medics from India are scheduled to visit Rome for medical screening of the stranded people”.
He further demanded that the state should set up a dedicated coordination cell allowing those stuck in a virus-hit foreign destination to remain in touch with government authorities. BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar echoed his demand for the setting up of such a cell. He said four persons from his constituency, Kandivali (East) in Mumbai, were also stranded.
Meanwhile, both houses of the legislature approved the proposal of the curtailment of the ongoing Budget Session as a precautionary measure. The session had commenced on February 24, with the Budget for 2020-21 being presented on March 6.
Following a meeting of the business advisory committee of both the houses and discussions between group leaders of the ruling and Opposition parties, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab tabled a proposal in both houses to adjourn the session on Saturday, after budgetary grants and demands raised by government departments receive approval.
Assembly Speaker Nana Patole said the treasury benches wanted to continue with the session, but it was his proposal to curtail the proceedings. “In view of the session, the official machinery is in Mumbai. It is imperative that officials return to their respective areas to lend help in the measures to contain the spread of the virus.”
During the discussion, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar informed the Assembly that around 850 to 1,000 tourists from the state were still outside the country. “They need to be screened when they land here,” he said.