PUNE: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday said all shops dealing in non-essential items will remain closed in Pune for Ganpati immersion on September 19 as the COVID-19 positivity rate was improving in the district and crowds needed to be discouraged during the last day of the festival.
However, eateries would remain open and detailed instructions on these would be issued by the district and civic authorities, he added.
“During the review of the COVID-19 situation of Pune district, it was understood the situation in the district is gradually improving. Weekly positivity rate and death rate in Pune has come down. As a precautionary move to discourage crowds on immersion day on Sunday, all shops under the non-essential category will remain closed in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad civic limits and the three cantonment areas,” he said.
Over 92 lakh people have got COVID-19 vaccine doses in the district, with around 77 per cent of the eligible beneficiaries getting the first dose, and some 41 per cent getting both doses, he informed.
“Around 0.19 per cent of people got infected after taking the first dose, while 0.26 per cent got the infection after being administered the second dose. The distance between the two peaks of the first and second wave was six-and-half months. If the situation remains under control, we will take some important decisions after a review on October 2,” the NCP leader said.
Speaking on other issues, he said the district administration had decided to implement a plastic ban in Sinhgad Fort area, while a 10-acre forest plot at the base of the fort would be developed as a parking lot.
“We have decided to ply electric vehicles with the help of PMPML from the base to the fort on an experimental basis. People can park their vehicles in the designated parking space down and then use the e-vehicle service for a fee,” Pawar said.
Shops to accommodate makeshifts stalls selling ‘pithala bhakri’ will be set up without affecting the heritage elements of the monument, apart from toilet blocks and charging points, he said.
Pawar said he was unable to attend the 45th GST Council meet underway in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, but those representing the state will convey Maharashtra’s demand that petrol and diesel should not be brought under the GST fold.
“We have conveyed that VAT should continue to be levied on petroleum products and they should not be brought under the GST fold. Under the GST system, the Centre is trying to take over many things from the state,” the deputy CM said.
The Centre levies, per litre, Rs 32.90 tax on petrol and Rs 31.80 on diesel, and it collected Rs 44,000 crore revenue from Maharashtra this way during the pandemic, and, therefore, the state wanted the Union government to reduce taxes from its end to give relief to people, Pawar asserted.
Value Added Tax on petrol and diesel was a major contributor to the state’s revenue and this is why Maharashtra wanted petroleum products to be kept outside the purview of GST, he said.
He said the Centre’s owed Maharashtra Rs 29,500 crore as GST compensation.