Maharashtra govt hints at lockdown, BJP offers support; CM to meet COVID task force today

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said he would hold a meeting on Monday on working out a financial package for the sections whose livelihood will be impacted by the lockdown

Press Trust of India April 11, 2021 15:00:06 IST
Maharashtra govt hints at lockdown, BJP offers support; CM to meet COVID task force today

Mumbai: Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday indicated the imposition of a strict lockdown in the state given the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, underlining the need to save the lives of people and clamping of strict restrictions to break the transmission chain of coronavirus .

Speaking at an all-party meeting held virtually to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state, the chief minister also said that his government will address the issues of the livelihood of poor, labourers and daily-wagers.

"The number of patients is increasing so fast that if we do not decide on a lockdown today, a lockdown-like situation will automatically arise tomorrow. Today the situation is getting worse. We are also constantly considering COVID-19 task force experts in the state.

"On the one hand there is a public sentiment but on the other hand, there is an outbreak of coronavirus , in which case if you want to win this battle you have to go through some hardships," a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) quoted him as saying.

Maharashtra's overall COVID-19 case tally stood at 33,43,951 as of Saturday while the overall death toll is 57,638. The state is now left with 5,36,682 active cases.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, ministers Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat, Dilip Walse Patil, Eknath Shinde, Jayant Patil, Rajesh Tope, Amit Deshmukh, along with state Congress president Nana Patole, Leader of Opposition in Assembly Devendra Fadnavis, Pravin Darekar, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and others. Maharashtra chief secretary Sitaram Kunte briefed the meeting about the prevailing situation in the state and the challenges faced by the state government to stem the spread of cases.

"If the coronavirus cycle is to be stopped, strict restrictions will have to be imposed. We have to prioritise saving lives first. If this is a health emergency, the priority should be the health and well-being of the citizens," he said.

The chief minister said the suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition (Fadnavis) will definitely be taken seriously. "They have come up with good suggestions," he added.

He said the government will particularly act on the suggestions such as ensuring the availability of Remedisivir injections; early receipt of test reports and necessary instruction to the laboratory, besides the careful planning for ensuring availability of oxygen.

"People were at home in the lockdown last year which made it easier to find patients and trace their contacts. Now that everything is open, the Centre should understand that there are practical difficulties in this," the chief minister said. Thackeray also underlined the need to expand the vaccination drive in the state.

"The UK has already had a strict lockdown for two months but during that time it protected citizens by launching a massive vaccination campaign. The younger generation today needs to be vaccinated. Pfizer plans to vaccinate children in the age group of 12 to 15 years," he said.

It will be ensured that the poor and the working class people won't suffer while imposing strict restrictions, the chief minister added.

"We are also constantly considering the views of the task force experts. I have been talking to people from different fields of life for the last few days. Yesterday, I spoke to directors of private hospitals. Everyone is ready to cooperate with the state government," he said.

He appealed to leaders cutting across the party lines to lend their support to whatever decision is taken "keeping the health of the people of the state in mind".

Fadnavis said a unilateral lockdown will not work, and if imposed, it will cause unrest in people.

"People had already suffered in the last year (due to the lockdown)," the senior BJP leader said, adding all sections of the society need to be taken into confidence.

While Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said he would hold a meeting on Monday on working out a financial package for the sections whose livelihood will be impacted, his colleague Ashok Chavan said the "nature, scope and duration of the lockdown will be finalised soon".

"The BJP feels a lockdown is necessary, but the government should first work out a financial package for the people who will be affected," state unit president Chandrakant Patil said.

Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said his party was in support of whatever decision the chief minister takes.

"However, Congress wants the lockdown to be less problematic, unlike the last year. We support a financial package for the affected population. The Opposition said that a financial package should be announced first," he said.

Patole blamed the rise in coronavirus positive cases in Maharashtra on the "poor supply" of vaccines.

State PWD Minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan said the state government's priority is to save the lives and livelihood of the people.

Senior NCP leader and minister Nawab Malik said the chief minister will hold talks with the state COVID-19 task force on Sunday before taking a decision.

"There is unanimity among the leaders who attended the meeting today that a lockdown or strict restrictions are necessary to break the coronavirus transmission chain. The government will also consider providing a financial package to daily wagers as well as to the people whose livelihood will get affected (due to the lockdown). The meeting was held to arrive at a consensus on steps to be taken," he told reporters.

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