COVID-19 Remains Despite Relaxations, Follow Guidelines: Uddhav Thackeray

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 Uddhav Thackeray

Uddhav Thackeray said the COVID-19 threat still persists despite relaxations.


Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said the COVID-19 threat still persists though restrictions have been partially eased to allow the resumption of business and other activities.

Urging people to avoid crowding and maintain physical distancing post easing of lockdown norms under "Mission Begin Again'', he repeated his demand for resumption of suburban train services in Mumbai for movement of staff on essential services duty.

Mr Thackeray hinted the coronavirus-induced lockdown, currently in force till June 30, will have to be extended if guidelines related to it are not followed strictly by the people.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the state legislature, he said lockdown measures have been eased because economic activities need to resume as "now we have to learn to live with the virus".

"The virus threat still persists but we need to start economic activities. Outdoor physical activity has been allowed for your good health and not to spoil it," he said, referring to reports of people crowding on the roads after the restrictions were eased.

The Chief Minister said that people should follow coronavirus-related protocols for their own good.

"Lockdown will have to continue if this (non-adherence of norms) happens. But I am confident people will listen to the government's rules and guidelines since it is taking care of their welfare," he said.

Mr Thackeray said he has been demanding that suburban train services resume in Mumbai to allow people on essential services duty to commute.

"Even now, many of them are not able to travel because of lack of transport," he said.

The Chief Minister rejected reports in a section of the media about friction between ministers and bureaucrats in the cabinet meeting which took place on Tuesday.

"It is not true," he said.

Mr Thackeray said the monsoon session of the legislature will now be held from August 3 instead of June 22 scheduled earlier, a decision which comes in the backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, where the infection tally has gone beyond the 90,000-mark.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who was also present at the press conference, said government was considering a proposal to provide concrete houses to people whose homes were destroyed in cyclone ''Nisarga'' that hit coastal districts of the state last week.

"We are considering whether this can be done under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana," said Mr Pawar, who also holds the finance portfolio.

He said for cyclone-damaged houses, a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh will be given by the government, while the affected people will also get Rs 10,000 in cash.

Also, a compensation of Rs 50,000 per hectare will be given for agriculture losses, Pawar said.

Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said losses were minimal because the administration was put on alert before the cyclone made landfall in Raigad district on June 3.

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