The coronavirus crisis will not end any time soon, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday.
“We were able to contain the number of cases between March and May, but it does not seem like the pandemic will be conquered in the near future. Even the World Health Organisation has indicated that it won’t end soon,” the chief minister said, during his speech before the conclusion of the curtailed monsoon session of the state Assembly.
At the epicentre of the pandemic in India, Maharashtra has so far reported 9,23,641 cases and 27,027 deaths by September 7. Admitting that the crisis was worsening and that the number of cases was on the rise across the state, Thackeray defended that the government had been taking proactive steps to contain the spread of the infection.
“For now the only thing in our hands is to take adequate precautions to contain the virus,” he said, while announcing the launch of a month-long door-to-door screening drive — Majhe Kutumb, Majhi Jawabdari (My family, my responsibility) — where teams of medical officers, ASHA volunteers and a local volunteer will visit households to check for symptoms of coronavirus. “Each team will survey 50 households a day. The drive will be taken up across urban and rural households. Local corporators and village sarpanches will be involved in the exercise,” he told the Assembly.
Thackeray, Fadnavis cross swords over Aarey car shed
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis took potshots at each other on Tuesday over the Aarey car shed issue.
Seeking reconsideration of the state government’s plan to shift the car shed for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground Metro route from the Aarey colony to a privately owned open land at Pahadi in Goregaon (West) where a car depot for another line is proposed, Fadnavis fired the initial salvo. “One must keep matters of ego aside while doing (public) work,” he said.
Later in the day, Thackeray got back saying that “preserving the rich biodiversity of Aarey was also crucial for Mumbai’s all round development.” “You say one must keep matters of ego aside while doing work, but it is equally important that one doesn’t resort to short cuts either,” he said. In an oblique reference to the mass cutting of trees in the dead of the night for the proposed car shed and the ill-fated swearing-in of the 80-hour-long Fadnavis government, he added, “When you resort to shortcuts, you are forced to work in the dead of the night or before dawn.”
While Fadnavis has raised questions over the technical feasibility and economic viability of shifting the car shed to Pahadi, Thackeray informed the House that a final decision would be taken in consultation with experts. Signalling plans to shift the car shed, the government had last week reserved 600 acres of land at Aarey as a “reserve forest”.
CM slams BJP on GST dues
Mumbai: Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray slammed BJP on the last day of the monsoon session on non-payment of GST dues by the Centre.
Thackeray, while speaking in the Legislative Council, referred to an editorial in Marathi daily Loksatta that stated that GST was launched with some flaws. “If GST was launched with flaws, then who is going to discuss it and who has the courage? You (Opposition) criticise which is fine but do you have the courage to ask the PM on GST that there are flaws in GST and that needs to be amended… PM showed the way of strict lockdown to the country and now we are being asked to become ‘aatmanirbhar’. How can we become ‘aatmanirbhar’ when you strangulate our neck and asks us to take breathe.” asked Thackeray.
Thackeray further referred to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remark that Covid-19 outbreak is an “Act of God”. “The Centre has given the state’s rightful GST dues of Rs 22,000 crore as yet. Rather than talking about giving it (GST dues), it is giving us an option of securing loans which means increasing the state’s debt. This is nothing but sin. Instead of differentiating us as ruling and Opposition, we should come together as the sons of Maharashtra and question the Centre on it,” said Thackeray. ENS
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