While maintaining that the state government will not ban firecrackers this Diwali, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday appealed to the people to refrain from using them in the interest of health and safety of all.
Addressing the state over social media platforms, he said: “(Covid-19) cases in Delhi have increased because of pollution that weakens the respiratory system. We could have banned firecrackers but we are not doing that. This year, we have celebrated many festivals with simplicity. You have always listened to me and I know you will continue to do so. Celebrate Diwali, light lamps, enjoy faraal (delicacies prepared in Maharashtrian homes) but avoid firecrackers.”
“I don’t want to impose an emergency by banning firecrackers. But I am placing my trust in you. Diwali is the festival of lights and you must avoid crowds and pollution. Don’t let coronavirus come in through the doors that you open for happiness and prosperity,” he added.
While many have been asking when temples and places of worship will be opened, Uddhav said that guidelines for the same will be prepared after Diwali.
“I am deliberately delaying this. There are many senior citizens who visit temples and other places of worship. We have to take special care. A standard operating procedure for re-opening temples will be prepared and slowly, they too, will be reopened. Let Diwali be over. I am being criticised for this but I can stand up to all criticism when it comes to the safety of my Maharashtra.”
Uddhav warned the government will continue to fine those found not wearing masks. “We will not let up… Those not wearing masks will be fined. Doctors have said that one infected person without a mask can infect 400 others. We will open temples and places of worship soon. But even when we open temples, you can leave your chappals (slippers) outside but not your mask.”
Maintaining that the fortnight after Diwali will be crucial, Uddhav said: “We have to be very careful. The (Covid-19) numbers are on a decline but from what we are seeing in western countries, when the second wave comes, it’s not a wave, it’s a tsunami. It comes with double or triple the intensity. For the next six months, we will not dismantle Covid centres and hospitals… We have to ensure the second wave does not hit us because though we have the medical infrastructure, from where will we get more doctors and healthcare workers?”
Uddhav said that “Maharashtra-haters” had run a smear campaign against the state and tried to project it as the hotbed of drug trafficking but they had now been silenced. “The fact is that we received investments worth crores for which MoUs were signed. And we didn’t just sign papers and make paper boats out of them. Land will soon be allotted to companies who have invested in Maharashta,” he added.
While MoUs worth Rs 17,000 crore were signed in June, deals worth another Rs 35,000 crore were inked last week, said the CM. He added that new deals would generate employment opportunities in different sectors, including electronics and logistics, for at least 23,182 people.
Uddhav applauded the state’s ‘My family, my responsibility’ campaign against Covid-19, held between September 15 and October 24, in two phases. He added that 99 per cent of the population was covered under the campaign. “Our health workers covered 2.74 crore households and detected more than 51,000 patients,” he said, adding that the drive may be relaunched in December.
Metro car shed
The CM said that those opposing the shifting of the Metro 3 car shed project to Kanjurmarg from Aarey Colony were causing impediments for a project that is aimed at benefitting the people of Mumbai. “Recently, it was said that the land in Kanjurmarg where the car shed project was shifted to is a salt pan land…You are attempting to stall development projects in Mumbai,” he said while referring to the Centre’s letter asking the state government not to go ahead with the project at the new location. The Uddhav Thackeray government and the BJP have been at loggerheads since the project was shifted last month. Maintaining that a string of attempts were made to create hurdles in the path of development of the state, Uddhav said, “We will rise above all this.”
Uddhav said that the state government was awaiting clearances from the Centre and as soon as the decks are clear, local train services for all will resume. “We have reopened almost everything and economic activity is picking up pace. About local trains, we are in talks with the Centre. (Railways Minister) Piyush Goyal ji has been very cooperative. As we get clearances from the Centre, we will proceed towards starting local trains also,” he added.
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