SHIMLA: Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday hit out at the opposition Congress for criticising the Himachal Pradesh government over the recent hike in bus fares and for allowing tourists to the hill state during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thakur said it is the need of the hour to jointly bear the burden of handling COVID-19 and several other states, including Punjab, have also hiked the bus fare.
The chief minister was addressing BJP workers of the Doon assembly segment in the Shimla parliamentary constituency online from his official residence here.
He is in self-quarantine since Wednesday afternoon after a deputy secretary in his office tested positive for coronavirus.
Though Thakur, his wife Dr Sadhana Thakur and their two daughters tested negative around 9 pm on Wednesday, they will remain quarantined for a week and tested again, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) R D Dhiman said.
The opposition Congress, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had on Tuesday demanded an immediate rollback of the 25 per cent hike in bus fares in Himachal Pradesh.
On Monday, the state government decided to increase the bus fare by 25 per cent.
It also decided to hike minimum bus fare for the first three kilometres from Rs 5 to Rs 7 in view of the fund crunch due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On criticism by the opposition for allowing tourists in the state during the pandemic, he said most of the states, including Uttarakhand, Goa and Kerala, had allowed tourists after banning them due to the coronavirus lockdown in March.
The state government has allowed their entry with strict preconditions, he added.
The chief minister said that not a single tourist has been found COVID-19 positive.
He alerted people that COVID-19 cases might increase in the rainy season.
Thakur said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed fear of a spike in cases in rains during a video conference with him about three-four days ago.
The chief minister, however, said there is no need to panic as the state government is fully prepared to tackle the situation.