Chandigarh: Appreciating Punjab’s Covid micro-containment and house-to-house surveillance strategy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked all other states to adopt the model, which was helping Punjab successfully control the spread of the pandemic to a significant extent.
Intervening as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was describing the state’s model to combat Covid, Modi suggested that all states should follow the same strategic approach to effectively counter the pandemic.
The Prime Minister was conducting a video conference meeting with Chief Ministers of several states, as part of his scheduled two-day interactions to review the Covid situation and management strategies of all the states.
He will be holding a similar meeting with the remaining Chief Ministers on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Amarinder Singh suggested to the Prime Minister that a group, which should include a few Chief Ministers, be set up to discuss and formulate a coordinated Centre-state response to the devastating impact of Covid on the economy.
During the conference with Modi, who was joined by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Chief Minister requested the Centre should work closely with the states to ease the distress caused by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
While living with Covid was the new normal since the lockdown could not continue indefinitely as the cycle of economy, once broken, takes a long time to restart, the need of the hour was to take care of both lives and livelihoods, as the Prime Minister had himself said in his meeting in April, he noted.
Amarinder Singh recalled that when, in early April, he had said Covid impact could go on till September, he had been called an alarmist by some people.
But with experts now warning that the pandemic could continue even beyond September, it was important to learn to co-exist with it and cope with it better, he said, underlining the need for the Central and state governments to work in close coordination.
Calling for urgent steps to mitigate Punjab’s financial stress, he said a detailed memorandum had already been sent to the Centre, listing out the impact of Covid-19 and also seeking fiscal and non-fiscal assistance.
Even as he thanked the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister for the release of GST payment of around Rs 2,800 crore in early June, Amarinder Singh said while he appreciated that the Centre was also under financial stress, he had to request for release of the state’s pending share of taxes to tide over the fiscal crisis.
The crisis in Punjab was likely to be acute with around Rs 25,000-30,000 crore shortfall in revenue collection on various counts, he said.
Even though Punjab’s contribution to the all-India cases was less than one per cent (at 3,140 cases) at present, with a mortality rate of 2.1 per cent and recovery rate of 75 per cent, the curve was rising as a result of the inbound travellers and the easing of restrictions and more mixing of people, the Chief Minister said, giving a status update on the Covid situation prevailing in the state.
Emphasising the need for more tests, despite the current 5,527 tests per million in Punjab being higher than the all India average of 4,088, Amarinder Singh reiterated his request to the Prime Minister to direct Central institutions in Chandigarh and Punjab to increase testing capacity.