MUMBAI: NCP president Sharad Pawar on Thursday said the Centre has assured to help Maharashtra where the COVID-19 situation is currently “grim”.
In a live address on Facebook, Pawar, whose party shares power in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena and Congress, said he spoke to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday and the latter assured to support Maharashtra and other states to tackle the situation.
Pawar said the rapid spread of the viral infection and the rising number of active cases was a cause of concern, and the state government had no option but to impose curbs as the gravity of the situation cannot be ignored.
“The situation in Maharashtra is grim. I appeal to all stakeholders to cooperate by realising the seriousness of the situation. To protect the lives of citizens, some stringent measures are required,” the NCP chief said.
“The Centre is also helping. I spoke to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan yesterday regarding the situation in Maharashtra,” the NCP chief said.
Pawar said Vardhan assured that the Centre will stand by the Maharashtra government and all other states to tackle the situation.
On Wednesday, Vardhan lashed out at Maharashtra and some other states, accusing them of trying to cover their “failures” in containing the pandemic by making “deplorable” attempts through “irresponsible” statements to distract attention and spreading panic among people.
Pawar said health workers in Maharashtra were doing their best to control the spread of the viral infection.
He said the state government has taken some steps, like imposing strict curbs to break the virus chain, on the advice of experts.
The 80-year-old leader’s comments came in the wake of protests from traders and small businessmen against restrictions imposed by the state government.
As per the state government’s ‘Break the Chain’ order, all shops under the non-essential category will remain closed till April 30.
The opposition BJP in Maharashtra has criticised the curbs after initially supporting the government’s efforts.
Thackeray will also attend a meeting on the Covid-19 situation in the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 6.30 pm on Thursday via video conferring.
Maharashtra reported 55,469 new COVID-19 cases and 297 deaths on Wednesday– the highest by any state in India. The active number of cases in the state stands at 4,72,283. The death toll in the state has gone up to 56,330.
To curb the intensity of the rising cases in the state, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced new Covid-19 guidelines for Mumbai to restrict the movement of people in public areas and transport while exempting those involved in essential services.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police the updated lockdown guidelines which restrict the movement of people in public areas and transport while exempting those involved in essential services.
In a series of tweets, Mumbai Police announced the updated lockdown guidelines, which stated: “Public Places: Weekdays (7 am-8 pm) – the movement of no more than 5 people allowed Weekdays (8 pm-7 am) and 8 pm Friday to 7 am Monday – no movement except essential services Beaches- Closed till 30 April.”
While private offices will remain closed, government offices have been allowed to run with 50 per cent occupancy whereas government offices required for response to COVID-19, electricity, water, banking and financial services are allowed to function with 100 per cent capacity.
Moreover, only 50 guests are allowed in wedding ceremonies while not more than 20 people can attend funerals.
On Monday, Chief Minister Thackeray also wrote a letter to PM Modi urging to lower the age group eligible for vaccination to 25 years old to curb the intensity of the rising cases in the state.