With about 32,000 more people stranded outside the state to reach Punjab in the next few weeks, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Wednesday warned of another COVID-19 spike.
A government statement said, that the CM told a video-conference of CMs of Congress-ruled states with party chief Sonia Gandhi that around 20,000 international travellers are expected to return to Punjab in the next 3-4 weeks, in addition to around 12,000 who had registered in other states for coming back.
According to Amarinder, four ships with migrants, mostly labourers, were expected to arrive over the next few days, while the first plane with NRIs was expected to reach Punjab on Thursday. The CM said there was a high risk of spread of infection in the state from those returning to the state especially the workers coming back from the Gulf in crowded ships.
He also said that the decision on classification of zones as red, orange or green should be left to the states. The video-conference where he was speaking was also attended by former party chief Rahul Gandhi and former PM Dr Manmohan Singh.
About migrant workers wanting to go back from Punjab to their native states, he disclosed that the state government has sanctioned Rs 35 crore to provide for their train travel.
Pegging the April revenue shortfall for the state at 88 per cent, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said with all tax revenues dried up and only 1.5 per cent of the industry currently operational, Punjab was facing a difficult financial situation, which was compounded by absence of aid from the central government.
As against the estimated revenues of Rs 3,360 crore for April, only Rs 396 crore had been received during the month, the Chief Minister disclosed, adding that the state’s power consumption had declined by 30 per cent with a daily loss of Rs 30 crore in collection of electricity tariff to the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd. In addition, the state’s GST arrears of Rs 4,365.37 crore are yet to be paid by the Centre, he pointed out.
The initial report of the Group of Experts headed by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, on the economic and industrial revival of the state, was likely to be received in three months, and it would take another month after that to refine and finalise the same, said Amarinder.
Relief sought from Centre
The CM also shared details of issues raised by his government with the Centre. These include pending GST arrears, demand for revenue grant for the next 3 months, review of the current year report by the 15th Finance Commission, among others.
His government was also pursuing for relief to the poor and daily wage agricultural and industrial labour including migrant workers, he said, adding that the state had also sought urgent relief for MSMEs and the power sector.
Death rate down, cases up
Providing an update on the Covid status in the state, the CM said that the spike in cases was due to Punjabis stranded outside coming back. He added that the state’s COVID-19 mortality rate was down to 1.72 per cent. About the Nanded returnees he said that the situation was likely to stabilise in the next 3-4 days, once testing of all such people is completed. All returnees are now being checked and quarantined, he added
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines