Chandigarh, March 5, 2021 (Yes Punjab News)
Underlining the need to continue Covid appropriate behaviour, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday made it clear that safety restrictions and norms in the state shall continue, while ensuring minimum, if any, loss of livelihood to the citizens of the state.
Pointing to the state’s success in managing and containing the pandemic, the Chief Minister said in the Vidhan Sabha that a year since the pandemic broke out, he could say with satisfaction that “we have done well, thanks to the hard work of all the health and frontline workers, district and police administration, NGOs, local representatives, and above all, the people.”
Punjab was thought to be potentially a high-risk State given its international airports, and a large diaspora, but despite being over 2.5% of India’s population, the cases reported in Punjab have been relatively much less @ 1.6% of the country’s 1.1 crore cases, said the Chief Minister, disclosing that 5887 persons have unfortunately lost their lives in Punjab, with a current positivity rate of 2.3% percent, “which is otherwise low but should give us no cause for complacency.” “It appears that India is experiencing a second wave so we have to be prepared for it,” he warned.
Noting that the state was among the first to use Plasma, and to set up Plasma banks, the first to use steroids in Covid management, Captain Amarinder said his government had been truthful and transparent in its reporting, and had been constantly trying to improve based upon the state’s experiences. “Our efforts at containment and response have been recognized, and the Health Response Team has collaborated with experts, including those working overseas, to bring the best cutting-edge practices to the State,” he said.
The Chief Minister listed out various measures taken by his government to strengthen health care facilities to treat the persons affected by the virus as also to track and trace others to prevent its spread, including ramping up of testing capacity from NIL in March 2020 to around 30000 individual tests per day, among other initiatives. He also cited the success of Mission Fateh in generating awareness, besides launch of Helplines and apps for providing support to the people.
Lauding the role of the farmers in ensuring successful procurement even during the pandemic, the Chief Minister said a total of Rs 62000 crore had been paid to the farmers for the two crops procured during this period. Around 10 lakh farmers had come to the Mandis to sell their produce, he disclosed.
Referring the migrants’ problems amid the pandemic, Captain Amarinder said his government had paid 100 percent of the cost, amounting to Rs. 35 crore, to transport over 5 lakh migrant workers to their homes in 375 trains. Over 21,000 migrant workers were also transported to their homes through 725 special buses. The Government provided special buses to bring back the people of the State who were stuck in different parts of the country due to lockdown, including about 4000 pilgrims from Nanded and more than 2000 students from Kota, he added.
The Chief Minister also listed out the effective measures undertaken by his government to alleviate socio-economic miseries, and stress of distressed populations. These included special measures with respect to distribution of food and medicines, empowerment of panchayats and municipalities, advance pensions, enhanced MGNREGA works, relief to construction workers, hassle-free procurement of wheat and paddy, ex-gratia for government employees, in addition to ensuring continuity in school education.
Besides, said the Chief Minister, recovery of taxes and bills had been deferred, while various taxes and penalties had been waived off. The State Power Corporation (PSPCL) had also given various reliefs to its consumers, at a cost of about Rs 500 crore. These included deferment of payment of Electricity Bills, one percent rebate on current Energy Bills, deferment of Fixed Charges, waiver of Extension Charges, and non-revision of Security for the electricity consumers, among others, he added.
Relief to the real estate sector, in addition to legislative reforms, had also played a vital role in mitigating the woes of the citizens of Punjab amid the Covid pandemic, said Captain Amarinder. He further listed out initiatives taken to revive the economy and mobilise resources as the state fights back to return to normalcy in the post-Covid environment.