Thackeray visited Pune to Thursday to review the city administration’s response to the pandemic. Pune is one of the worst-hit cities, recording over 1,000 new Covid-19 cases every day for weeks.
This was the Shiv Sena chief’s first visit to Pune since he became the chief minister of Maharashtra in November last year.
Thackeray, who drove to Pune, held two meetings — one with local legislators and representatives of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha from the city, and another with senior officials of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC).
“Everyone needs to work together towards reducing the spread of Covid-19, as well as to bring down the mortality rate. Elected representatives should coordinate between local residents and the administration,” he said.
The chief minister said the administrative machinery needs to be effective and medical facilities should be efficient enough to handle the situation. “The cooperation of elected representatives is a must in the situation. Everyone should stand by the government in the decisions it takes in public interest during the current emergency situation,” he said.
The chief minister also pulled up the local administration for not being able to control the spread of Covid-19, and directed the administration to set up a jumbo facility for treatment of Covid patients within eight days, instead of the scheduled 21 days. “The situation in Pune will go beyond control in 21 days. The jumbo facility should be ready in eight days,” he said.
Deputy Chief Minister and Pune Guardian Minister Ajit Pawar said the administration only prepared “good presentations” but the actual situation was different. “The administration should take things seriously,” he said.
The CM and deputy CM directed senior officers to visit all hospitals to collect actual data of patients, and find the “huge gap” between the Covid-19 figures with the state government, and those with the civic administration.
State Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray said if the situation can be brought under control through proper management, then it was not impossible in Pune. “The reports from private laboratory should be submitted to the civic body, only then can effective management be done. There should be proper tracing, treatment and bed management,” he said.
The chief minister said there was sufficient availability of ventilators, PPE kits and N95 masks, and these were being distributed to various places as per requirement. He also said municipal corporations across the state are being provided additional funds for taking preventive measures to check the spread of the viral infection.
Thackeray said he has requested the Union government to continue the supply of ventilators, PPE kits and N95 masks even after September 1, and urged elected representatives to make the request to the Centre at a personal level as well.
“No one should be careless in handling the first wave of pandemic in the state… everyone needs to be cautious. Public participation is important and municipal corporations should raise awareness on the use of masks, social distancing and cleanliness rules,” he said.
The administration should ensure that local residents face no hurdles while trying to access treatment, said the chief minister, adding that work on setting up ‘jumbo’ medical facilities to accomodate an increasing number of cases in Pune should be speeded up. He said the process of managing beds for Covid patients should be digitised and updated on a real time basis.
At the meeting with the chief minister, Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said private hospitals were charging exhorbitant rates to treat Covid-19 patients, and action should be taken against them for not cooperating. He also sought more funds for PMC, which has been in financial dire straits for months.
“The state government should provide funds to the PMC. The testing capacity at Sassoon Hospital should also be increased,” said Mohol.
Mohol also said that there are more Covid-19 deaths taking place in the city than those being registered by the civic administration. “I think there must be 400 to 500 Covid-related deaths that have taken place in the city this month, but were not registered as Covid deaths. I am not saying the administration is hiding information… but I thing that is the real situation,” he said.
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