CHENNAI: Pointing out that the COVID-19 recovery rate stands at 80.8 percent and the death rate at 1.6 percent in Tamil Nadu due to the effective treatment provided by the state government, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday sought a host of relief measures from the Centre during his interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi through video conference.
“As on date, 2,44,675 patients have recovered, which works out to a recovery rate of 80.8 percent, one of the highest in the country. Tamil Nadu is currently conducting the maximum number of PCR tests in the country. The proactive and aggressive approach has resulted in the declining trend of new positive cases in Chennai. A similar approach is being adopted in the rest of the state,” the Chief Minister said during his discussions with the Prime Minister on COVID-19 prevention measures.
Stating that Tamil Nadu presently has 130 labs for COVID testing with 61 government and 69 private labs, with an average testing capacity of 65,000 tests per day, Palaniswami said, “These tests cost nearly Rs 5 crore per day. I request the Centre to fund 50 percent of the cost of the PCR tests from the PM–CARES fund,” he added.
Stating that experts treating critically ill COVID-19 patients have requested for a higher degree of ventilatory care, the Chief Minister requested the Prime Minister to provide funds to Tamil Nadu for procuring high-end ventilators. He also pointed out that sufficient funds for the procurement of consumables had been sanctioned from the SDRF and state budget while orders have been placed by the state government for 5.25 crore triple-layer face masks, 48.05 lakh N-95 masks, 41.3 lakh PPE kits, and 43.26 lakh RT-PCR testing kits.
Welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement on extending the free supply of rice and whole chana dal to priority households, the Chief Minister said whole chana dal is not part of the staple diet of the people of Tamil Nadu. “Based on my earlier letter to you in this regard, I request you to release 55,637 metric tonnes of toor dal to the state for distribution till November,” he added.
The following are the other requests put forth by the Chief Minister to the Prime Minister:
- Tamil Nadu has so far received Rs 512.64 crore from the Centre in two tranches under the Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness package out of an envelope of Rs 712.64 crore allotted. I request this package for the Tamil Nadu may be stepped up to Rs 3,000 crore as per my earlier request.
- Both central and state tax revenue will fall short of the budget estimates. To make up for the shortfall, Tamil Nadu may be allocated an Rs 9,000 crore special grant to combat COVID-19 and its after-effects on the state’s economy.
- The GST compensation for April-June 2020 may be released early.
- As we have already fully exhausted the State Disaster Response and Mitigation Fund, I also request an ad-hoc grant of Rs 1,000 crore from NDRF immediately to fight the pandemic.
- Releasing the pending CMR subsidy of Rs 1,321 crore at this time will facilitate paddy procurement.
- A relief package to ease the immediate burden on the power sector should be announced which will help distressed discoms. The requirements for the power sector reform should be removed and greater latitude to states in implementing the reform agenda should be allowed.
- Early approval of the Department of Economic Affairs and concerned Government of India Agencies for the externally aided projects will enable quick disbursement, which would contribute to the broader economic revival efforts.
- Instruct SIDBI to provide at least Rs 1,000 crore as a refinance facility to Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation Limited from the RBI special packages. This will help revive the MSME industries in Tamil Nadu.
- The special loan product for Covid-19 for SHGs should be implemented by all banks with an enhanced loan amount of at least Rs 2 lakh per group and with enhanced interest subvention.
- All districts in Tamil Nadu should be brought in Category-I for enhanced upfront interest subvention. The CGFMU Scheme of enhanced bulk loans with Government of India guarantees to SHGs should be implemented immediately and also extended to Panchayat Level Federations in Tamil Nadu.