With the COVID-19 cases growing nearly four-fold in four days amid an influx of pilgrims, students and migrants, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday sought the immediate enhancement of coronavirus testing capacity at the six central government research institutions in the state and Chandigarh to 2,000 tests a day.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amarinder said the step was necessary to overcome the “overstretched and limited testing capacities” in the state.
The institutions are Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), and Institute of Microbial Technology-Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (IMTECH-CSIR) in Chandigarh, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, and National Agricultural Biotechnology Institute in Mohali and the Central University in Bathinda.
Amarinder requested Modi to issue urgent directives to these institutions to scale up their testing capacity to assist the state government. He said the state government was making all possible efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Union government.
The CM said his government had already requested these institutions to provide viral testing capacity of 2,000 tests daily.
Punjab has till date conducted 24,908 COVID-19 tests, of which 20,729 were conducted at government medical colleges in Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot which have a daily testing capacity of about 1,050, while the remaining tests were done by private labs as well as central government labs.
CM seeks Centre’s nod for allowing to operate small industry
Expressing concern over the plight of tiny, micro, cottage and small industries amid the continued lockdown, Amarinder has sought the Centre’s permission to allow these to operate by engaging labour from the family or the neighbourhood.
In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, he has sought permission to allow such industries, located in urban areas, to function outside the containment zones. This initiative would be instrumental in largely ensuring continued employment of labour besides sustaining the MSME sector, he said.
Pointing out that most industrial cities of Punjab have recently come in the red zone, largely on account of people who have come from other states, Amarinder said these restrictions have made it difficult for
industry to resume operations.
He further pointed out that there are a large number of tiny, cottage, micro and small industries operating in the state, employing 2-5 persons who reside in the neighbourhood, and in many cases only family labour is used with no external workers at all.
Often these units are vendors of large units and supply them with some essential components, failing which even large units, even though permitted, cannot function, he further observed, seeking
amendment to the instructions/guidelines issued by the Union Home Secretary under section 10(2) (I) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, whereby certain industries in urban areas, other than containment zones, have been permitted to function.
The CM has solicited Shah’s intervention to direct his ministry to amend these guidelines, under para 7 (ii) (b) wherein this relaxation is restricted, to allow the said industries in Punjab to function.