Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has yet again pitched for extension of the lockdown considering the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state.
The Chief Minister said at the video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that states needed to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning as part of a carefully planned exit strategy, encompassing both Covid containment and a defined path of economic revival, said a government statement adding that he was clearly favouring extension of lockdown.
Meanwhile, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar Monday urged the Centre to authorise states to take decisions at their own level to resume industrial and economic activities in green, orange, and red zones except containment zones.
Khattar said, “In this hour of crisis, the amendments in labour laws should not become a matter of competition among the states.”
He also assured the Prime Minister that all out efforts will be made to bring the GDP rate of Haryana in the second quarter of Financial Year 2020-21 to the level of the second quarter of the Financial Year 2019-20.
Amarinder said at the video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that states needed to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning as part of a carefully planned exit strategy, encompassing both Covid containment and a defined path of economic revival, said a government statement adding that he was clearly favouring extension of lockdown.
“The exit strategy should consider and focus on fiscal and economic empowerment of the states, which are responsible for the real action directly impinging upon the livelihood and social health of the common man,” the Chief Minister said, suggesting that states should be allowed great flexibility in micro-planning, with MSMEs to be allowed to function in red zone districts with proper safeguards. “The decision on designating the red, orange/yellow and green zones should be left to the states, which were more cognisant of the ground realities,” he said.
Amarinder demanded urgent financial assistance to states to meet at least 33 per cent of their committed liabilities, along with revenue grants to the states for three months to meet shortfall in revenue and to fund expenditure on Covid-19.
The Punjab Chief Minister also called for a national strategy on Covid testing for making the battle against Covid more effective, pointing out that he had also written to the Prime Minister to direct the Central government institutions in Chandigarh and Punjab to increase testing capacity. Punjab had so far done 40,962 tests so far, with current testing rate at 2,500 per day, which the state government planned to scale up to 6,000 by end of the month.
Pointing out that Punjab had procured 115 Lakh MT of wheat, with proper social distancing and hygiene protocols in place, the Chief Minister also requested for early declaration of MSP on paddy and a bonus on non-burning of paddy stubble.
The Chief Minister informed the Prime Minister that Punjab was losing Rs 3,000 crore per month in revenue (totally 88% of the estimated revenue loss recorded in April), along with Rs 30 crore daily loss for Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (a decline of 30%). He also reiterated his demand for immediate release of the Punjab’s GST arrears of Rs 4,365.37 crore.
He said that Punjab had successfully brought down the mortality rate in the state to 1.8 per cent while containing the doubling rate at around seven days against national average of 11 days. The rate of increase was falling after having risen sharply in the last 10 days due to the large number of people who tested positive from returnees from other states, he said, expressing the confidence that the situation should improve further in the coming week.
With four containment zones, Punjab currently has 1,823 positive cases (2.75% of All-India cases), with 31 deaths (1.40% of All-India deaths), translating into mortality rate of 1.70%.
Manohar Lal Khattar
A Haryana government spokesperson said, “Chief Minister also thanked the Prime Minister for acceding to his request made during the previous video conference held on April 27, 2020 to end the uncertainty prevailing around the conduct of competitive examinations like CDS, JEE, and NEET. Expressing concern over the future of the youth, The CM once again urged the central government to consider opening schools, colleges, and educational institutions running professional courses with 50 per cent limit to maintain social distancing norms.”
While speaking in the video conference, Khattar mentioned about new schemes launched by the state government during the lockdown period.
Khattar apprised the PM that the state government has also provided financial assistance to 5.03 lakh families ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 under ‘Mukhya Mantri Parivar Samridhi Yojana’, and an amount of Rs 154 crore has been transferred to the accounts of beneficiaries.
He said that the work of Census 2021, which had stopped due to the lockdown, was resumed in Haryana and during this period, the state has conducted survey work of needs and resources of 25 lakh families through the constitution of 20,000 local committees and have stored this data digitally.
The CM pointed out that his government had issued distress ration tokens to about 3.73 lakh families who did not have any kind of ration card in order to enable them to get free ration. Similarly, about 13.4 lakh families were given the financial assistance of Rs 553 crore by direct transfer into their accounts.
“The Chief Minister also informed the Prime Minister that about 24 lakh laborers work in about 35,000 factories in Haryana, out of which 14 lakh industrial workers have returned to work. He said that to overcome the mental stress in the people arising due to lockdown, AYUSH Department has prepared products to increase immunity and these are being distributed free to everyone. On the appeal of the government, the labourers have been paid their salaries even for the period they haven’t worked,” the spokesperson added.
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