Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said the Centre was cooperating with the Maharashtra government as they tackle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Thackrey met industrialists and representatives of trade bodies like FICCI and CII via video conferencing. The CM also said he had tried to contact Prime Minister Narendra Modi on phone regarding the oxygen supply for the state but the PM was not available since he was campaigning for the West Bengal elections.
Earlier in the day, Union minister Piyush Goyal had attacked Thackeray on the issue of availability of oxygen in the state, saying that Maharashtra has so far received the highest quantity of oxygen in India and the Centre is in regular touch with state governments to assess their needs. “Maharashtra is suffering from an inept and corrupt government and the Centre is doing its best for the people. People of Maharashtra are following ‘Majha Kutumb, Majhi Javabadari’ dutifully. It is time the CM (chief minister) also follows his duties in the spirit of ‘Majha Rajya, Majhi Javabadari’,” the commerce and industry minister said.
Meanwhile, Thackeray appealed to the industrial sector to plan a COVID-appropriate work-style to ensure that the economy is not impacted in case of a “third wave of coronavirus”. The CM said a task force of the industrial sector will be set up for coordination with the state government. “Maharashtra needs oxygen supply and all oxygen produced is being used for medical purpose. I contacted prime minister Narendra Modi about the need for oxygen supply, but he wasn’t available on phone yesterday since he was busy with the West Bengal poll campaign. But the Centre is cooperating with the state,” Thackeray is quoted as saying in a release issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
Thackeray further said though the number of COVID-19 waves cannot be predicted, the trade and industry should plan accordingly to tackle the next wave by adopting the “COVID-appropriate work style and set up testing and vaccination facilities. He also called for raising a special infrastructure for the health of workers, increasing the number of isolation beds, developing work-from-home setup and staggering the work hours. In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Thackeray had said that medical oxygen requirement in the state is projected to reach 2,000 metric tonnes per day by April-end from the present consumption of 1,200 MT per day.
Citing logistical hurdles in the transportation of liquid medical oxygen from neighbouring states, Thackeray had sought permission under the National Disaster Management Act to airlift oxygen from steel plants in eastern and southern parts of the country. Medical-grade oxygen is used for the treatment of critical COVID-19 patients and in other cases of respiratory diseases.