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Lives more important than profits: Ajit Pawar on closure of major industries

Ajit Pawar, who held meetings with the local administration in Pune, said the state government was taking every possible effort to keep the spread of infection contained.

By: Express News Service | Pune | March 21, 2020 12:39:16 am
coronavirus, coronavirus precautions, coronavirus in pune, coronavirus cases in pune, coronavirus news, indian express Maharashtra Deputy Cheif Minister Ajit Pawar. (File)

DEPUTY Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday urged Pune residents to act responsibly and strictly follow instructions given by the administration for the next 15 days which, he said, were crucial in Maharashtra’s fight against coronavirus (COVID-19).

Pawar, who held meetings with the local administration in Pune, said the state government was taking every possible effort to keep the spread of infection contained.

Addressing concerns raised by various industries, including automobile and information and technology, over the adverse impact that indefinite closures may have on them, Pawar said, “Lives are more important than profits”.

He, however, said that in scenarios where work from home was not possible for IT employees, they have been given some exemptions, with directives to keep the working staff in offices to a minimum.

“The next 15 days are very important in the fight against coronavirus and everyone should take every possible care. I appeal to the people to display strong will to defeat this calamity,” said Pawar.

He also hinted that if crowds using public transport in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad do not abate, the government may consider curtailing the various modes of public transport.

“The chief minister has said we are expecting people not to crowd local trains in Mumbai by avoiding non-essential travel. However, if the crowds do not abate, he will be forced to stop the local service. We can do the same in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad as well by curtailing buses and trains. Public transport is important because people who provide various essential services such as garbage disposal and water supply, among others, use them and without them, these services will cease. But if others who should be staying at home are crowding public transport by travelling unnecessarily, then we will have to take some steps,” said Pawar.

The guardian minister of Pune district said he has given all requisite leeway to district administrations, as well as local-level officers, for spending on measures to fight the infection. When asked if the state is seeking financial aid from the central government, Pawar said money was not a concern at the moment and the state “has enough funds to take the measures that are being taken” to counter the spread of COVID-19.

He said rural hospitals in the state and health centres have been readied in case the outbreak reaches rural areas. Pawar also said if possible, “weddings should be postponed”. “If not possible, the gatherings should be kept to a minimum by inviting only 25 persons from the bride and bridegroom’s sides,” he said.

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