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Two challenges before govt: containing COVID-19, putting economy back on track

“Currently, Maharashtra is battling on two fronts. First, the multiplying numbers of coronavirus positive cases. And second, the economy, which has been badly hit due to the lockdown," said Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

| Mumbai | Published: April 6, 2020 1:34:47 am
coronavirus outbreak, economic downfall, COVID-19, mumbai news, indian express news On Sunday, Maharashtra’s tally of coronavirus cases stood at 690. (Rerpesentational Image)

Stymying the spread of coronavirus disease and putting the state’s economy, badly hit due to the 21-day lockdown, on right track are the two mammoth tasks before the Maharashtra government.

Voicing concern over the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar Sunday said: “Currently, Maharashtra is battling on two fronts. First, the multiplying numbers of coronavirus positive cases. And second, the economy, which has been badly hit due to the lockdown. Almost all sectors including services, industries, infrastructure, have come to a standstill.” On Sunday, Maharashtra’s tally of coronavirus cases stood at 690.

According to official sources, the state’s overall debt has cross Rs 5.20 lakh crore and the 21-day lockdown has only compounded its problems with restrictions on revenue generation. To enable farmers to take fresh crop loan, the state government will have to write off their existing debt. By a conservative estimate, officials said, it would have to provide Rs 19,034 crore as loan waiver.

Till March, the state government has already provided a loan waiver to 18.89 lakh farmers. The total expenditure incurred was Rs 11,966 crore. The total loan waiver estimate is Rs 30,000 crore.

While indicating that fixing the state economy will be a prolonged battle, Pawar said the priority of the government now was to curb the coronavirus cases. Highly placed sources estimate that fresh allocations for COVID-19 disaster management are inevitable. While the overall package could be nearly Rs 50,000 crore, officials said the exact quantum could be much higher.

The deputy chief minister also appealed people to practice social distancing and stay at home as “there is no other way” to curb COVID-19 spread. “It is the people’s will which can help and stop its (the virus) entry to their respective housing societies or homes. Be alert,” Pawar said.

Cops register 88 cases for curfew violation on Saturday

Mumbai Police registered 88 cases on Saturday for violating the COVID-19 curfew, police said.

According to police, despite instructions, six hotels and shops were found operational. The highest number of violations, however, were reported in public spaces where people gathered in crowds of more than five, despite prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Indian Penal Code.

As many as 13 people were booked for driving on the roads despite not having anywhere to be urgently, police said. No fresh instances of individuals flouting home quarantine orders were reported on Saturday. In all, police has now registered 976 FIRs under section 188 (violating an order issued by a public servant) of the IPC since March 20.

In this time, police also booked 1,838 people and arrested 1,443 of them. Around 111 people were arrested and released on bail on Saturday.

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