Mumbai: Even as the corona cases surged to 23,401 in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray left the decision on extension of lockdown to the wisdom of the Centre. However, at the video conference with the Prime Minister, Thackeray did not hesitate to seek deployment of central forces, if the need arises, to lighten the burden of the stressed-out police.
At the same time, he requested for resumption of Mumbai suburban railway services, which are shut since March 23, so that essential services personnel can commute during the lockdown. They can produce identity cards to establish their credentials while commuting, it was pointed out.
CM Thackeray further appealed to PM Modi to give them "specific and concrete directions" on the ongoing lockdown. "Give us specific and concrete directions on the lockdown, the states will implement the same," an official statement issued by the chief minister’s office cited Thackeray as saying.
This is necessary, as media reports suggest that there is a revival of coronavirus in Wuhan in China and it may peak in May and will continue to spread in June and July also.
On May 8, during his web address, Thackeray had clarified that there was no need to requisition the services of the Army to deal with the crisis. However, he had also said that the state government will not hesitate to seek the deployment of central reserve forces.
He also urged PM Modi for early release of GST refund and devolution of taxes of over Rs 18,000 crore, as the money can be used to upgrade health infrastructure to fight the virus. Thackeray pointed out that the state is looking at a revenue deficit of Rs 35,000 crore because of the lockdown.
He also requested PM Modi to waive GST on medical equipment and reduce the custom duty on key gear. He further called upon the PM to instruct RBI to ask banks to provide loans to farmers who were not beneficiaries under the Maharashtra Government’s crop loan waiver scheme.
Nearly 10 lakh farmers, especially from Vidarbha region, will benefit. On the movement of stranded migrant workers, Thackeray emphasised that proper care should be taken by all states as they will be travelling from various zones.
He informed that the state government is providing breakfast, a two-time meal and shelter to 5.50 lakh migrant workers. He further suggested that the Centre could form a task force at the national level, on the lines of the one set up by the state government in Mumbai and Pune.