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Proclaim Covid-19 ‘natural calamity’, Uddhav Thackeray urges Modi



As Maharashtra bears the brunt of the second wave of Covid-19 sweeping India, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the pandemic a “natural calamity”.

Penning two separate letters addressed to the PM, Thackeray said that this would enable relief funds to be extended by the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for the pandemic victims.

“In view of the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the state, a mini-lockdown is a necessity. Covid-19 pandemic may be notified as a natural calamity for the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

“Accordingly, the state may be allowed to pay Gratuitous Relief of Rs 100 per adult per day and Rs 60 per child per day during the period of lockdown to all the Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority House Hold (PHH) family members whose names are included in the AAY and PHH ration cards,” Thackeray said.

Stating that these are the ones whose livelihoods are seriously affected due to the lockdown, he asked that the entire expenditure may be allowed from the SDRF during the current financial year, and the first installment of the Central share of the SDRF may be released to tide over the financial situation.

Referring to the plight of small scale industries, businesses, and startups which have taken bank loans under different Central schemes and supported the country in becoming ‘Atmanirbhar’ in various sectors, he said today they are reeling under the Covid-19 restrictions.

“The banks may be asked to defer the instalments that are becoming due at least in the first quarter of the current financial year may be postponed without interest,” Thackeray added.

On the state’s serious Covid-19 status, the CM said that Maharashtra currently has 5.64 lakh active cases, or almost 88 percent higher than the peak of September 2020.

“The biggest concern to the state is liquid medical oxygen (LMO) supplies. The requirement of oxygen is crossing the total capacity of 1,200 MT of LMO manufacturing. We have projected that the demand would be 2,000 MT April-end,” he said.

Expressing his thanks to the Centre for mapping state demand to steel plants in eastern and southern India, he urged it to invoke the National Disaster Management Act (NDMA) for the movement of LMO and reiterated his earlier plea to consider options of air-lifting the oxygen supplies by the Indian Air Force.

Lauding the decision to ban remdesivir exports, Thackeray requested the authorities concerned to grant compulsory licence as per Section 92 of Indian Patents Act, 1970, which would facilitate approval to those exporting units to manufacture and sell the drug in the domestic markets.

He sought the PM’s “personal intervention” to address the concerns of the state on these issues to combat the pandemic situation.


Narendra Modi discusses Covid situation with Uddhav Thackeray, 3 other CMs




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took stock of the Covid-19 situation in separate telephonic conversations with four Chief Ministers and assured them of all possible help from the Central government, said sources.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Himachal Pradesh CM Jairam Thakur and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, were among those whom the Prime Minister dialled to get details about the Covid-19 situation in their states.

In a tweet, the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office said Thackeray requested more linkages in the procurement of oxygen for the state and gave information about several measures taken and plans to counter the third wave of the pandemic.

He thanked the Prime Minister for continuous guidance and for “accepting various requests made by the state”.

“In a telephonic conversation with CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray, the Hon’ble PM@narendramodi sought details about Maharashtra’s fight against COVID and commended its efforts in countering the second wave.”

Maharashtra is among the states where the maximum number of Covid cases have been reported so far. The state logged 54,022 new cases in the last 24 hours while 898 Covid patients died in the same period.

Thackeray’s conversation with the Prime Minister came a day after he wrote to Modi regarding supply of vaccines, technical glitches on the CoWin App and developing a state-level app for citizen’s vaccination registration. The CM’s initiative to come up with a Covid app comes amid frequent glitches in the CoWIN registration platform.

Maharashtra is among the 10 states that account for close to 72 per cent of the new Covid-19 cases reported in a day, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday.

The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister in a tweet said he informed the Prime Minister about his state’s “continuously decreasing positivity rate and rapidly rising recovery rate”.

Chouhan also spoke with the Prime Minister about the state government’s measures to combat the virus and in turn the Prime Minister assured him of providing every possible help to the state. Madhya Pradesh added another 11,708 Covid cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the total tally to over 6.49 lakh.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed satisfaction with the efforts of the Madhya Pradesh government and assured all possible help from the central government,” Chouhan tweeted in Hindi.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, in a tweet in Hindi, also informed about his telephonic conversation with the Prime Minister, saying ” said he updated the Prime Minister on what the state government is doing to provide oxygen to Covid patients, the status of hospital beds and the vaccination drive”. The hill state reported 4,177 COVID-19 cases on Friday, pushing its total caseload to over 1.22 lakh. 56 Covid patients died in the last 24 hours.

“Prime Minister Modi has assured all possible help to the state in its battle against the virus,” Thakur said.

The Prime Minister later held a telephonic conversation with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin and noted details about the preparedness of the state government to deal with the pandemic.

In the last three days, the Prime Minister has spoken with 10 Chief Ministers and two Lieutenant Governors to take stock of their states and union territories efforts and plans to deal with the pandemic.

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PM Narendra Modi hails Maharashtra CM’s Covid measures




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called up Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to get an overview of Maharashtra’s war against the Coronavirus, an official said.

During the conversation, the PM lauded Thackeray’s efforts and observed that the state has put up a good fight during the ongoing second wave of Covid-19.

Thanking Modi, the CM appreciated his guidance in the state’s Covid war right from the beginning and how the Centre had accepted certain suggestions given by Maharashtra.

Thackeray took the opportunity to request for more Central help and support in terms of critical needs like oxygen and apprised the PM on the state’s plan to tackle the possible Covid-19 ‘third wave’ expected to hit soon.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Maharashtra has emerged among the worst-hit in the country with a caseload of 49,96,758 which surpassed the infections of Turkey, and a total of 74,413 fatalities recorded till date, besides 654,788 ‘active cases’ – just below France’s 823,825 ‘active cases’.

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Covid spurs Maharashtra to fill up 16K Health Department vacancies



As the country prepares for a potential “third wave” of Covid-19, the Maharashtra government on Friday announced it will fill up around 16,000 vacancies in the Public Health Department.

Health Minister Rajesh Tope told media persons that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has approved the major proposal and the posts lying vacant shall be filled up on an urgent basis.

While 12,000 posts fall in the Groups C & D, the rest are equally divided in Groups A & B categories, he added.

Earlier, the state government had allowed 50 per cent recruitment to the vacant posts but it could not be implemented owing the Maratha reservations issue before the Supreme Court.

After the SC verdict and owing to the strongly fear of a possible ‘third wave’ of Covid-19, Tope again made a strong plea for the 100 per cent recruitment as there will be huge need of manpower to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The final call will be taken in the state cabinet meet by Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar before initiating the process to fill up the vacancies.

The Group A posts include specialists to be filled up through the Maharashtra Public Service Commission, Group B comprises medical officers to be filled up by the Public Health Department Selection Board, and the Group C and D comprise the lower category of officials/clerical and similar posts.

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