Declare Covid a natural calamity: Thackeray writes to PM; seeks SDRF fund
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in declaring the Covid pandemic a natural calamity.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in declaring the Covid pandemic a natural calamity so that the government can utilise state disaster response fund (SDRF) at the earliest even as he put in place stricter curbs to check the spread of the virus.
All states need the Union Government's permission to use SDRF for helping those affected by the pandemic, said a government official. Notification of the pandemic as a natural calamity will empower the state government to pay daily Gratuitous Relief of ₹100 and ₹60 respectively to the adult and minor members of the families included in Antyodaya Anna Yojana or Priority House Hold ration cards. Thackeray has also requested the Centre to release the first instalment of SDRF at the earliest.
Among the requests in his two letters, both dated April 13, Thackeray said the demand for liquid medical oxygen (LMO) is expected to go up to 2,000 metric tonne by April-end against the state's installed production capacity of 1,200 MT a day. Hence, he said, the Centre needs to immediately ensure air-lifting of LMO from other states. "We are thankful to the Government Of India for mapping state demand to steel plants in eastern and southern India, but the lifting of it from far off areas is time consuming and also invokes disruption risks. We therefore request you to press in NDMA and also arrange for the air lifting of it," it said.
The chief minister has requested the Centre to grant compulsory licence under section 92 of Indian Patents Act 1970 to facilitate production and sale of remdesivir injections in the domestic market. The Centre has banned export of the remdesivir injection recently.
Thackeray has also sought the PM's intervention for deferment of due instalments of loans taken by small scale industries, businesses, and startups. "The loans by such small units have been taken under different schemes of the Central government under the Atmanirbhar Bharat drive. Though the sector has not been restricted in the lockdown, the contraction in their demand is evident. The banks, in such a scenario, should be requested to defer the instalments becoming due in the first quarter of the current financial year without accruing interest on the loans," the letter said.
On Wednesday, the state reported 58,952 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 3,578,160, while 278 new fatalities pushed the toll to 58,804, a state health department said.
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