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Covid-19: Tamil Nadu seeks Rs 4,000 crore special assistance from Centre

In a letter to PM Modi, state CM highlights the measures his govt has taken, apart from pointing out how vulnerable Tamil Nadu is to the pandemic

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

Medical personnel help each other suit up at a federal COVID-19 drive-thru testing site.
Tamil Nadu is vulnerable to this virus, because of the large number of international passengers who transit through the four international airports and four major ports in the State

The Government has asked the Union Government for special assistance of Rs 4,000 crore to address (Covid-19) issues.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister K Palaniswami urged him to consider his request for the assistance and other relief measures and support the various initiatives and programmes announced by the state to tackle the pandemic. He added that the state was taking massive preventive operations and striving to alleviate the hardship of the poor.

Congratulating the Prime Minister for the "bold and decisive measures" he has taken to combat Covid-19 and and all Indians from the deadly virus, he said had already implemented a lockdown starting 6 p.m. on March 24, while ensuring availability of essential goods and services.

He said his government had announced a package to strengthen the health infrastructure in the state, under which 10,000 beds had been earmarked in isolation wards both in Government and private hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. The state scaled up procurement of requisite medical equipment such as ventilators, hospital beds and PPE, drugs and medicines and deployment of health human resources.

Tamil Nadu is vulnerable to this virus, because of the large number of international passengers who transit through the four international airports and four major ports in the State. It also adjoins States where the outbreak has been initially more severe.

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"Hence, while immediate measures have been taken, we will need to prepare for a significantly higher case load in the coming weeks and months. Substantially more resources are needed to face the projected number of cases effectively, including through the establishment of isolation hospitals, quarantine centres, supply of hospital equipment including hospital beds, ventilators and PPE, medicines and testing kits and disinfection equipment and chemicals," Palaniswami's letter said.

"Further, private hospitals also would need to be equipped and their services utilised to treat patients free of cost. Extensive sanitation and disinfection measures would need to be undertaken. Hence I request an allotment of Rs 3,000 crore for augmenting and strengthening the health infrastructure and for essential equipment, medicines and for preventive public health measures at this crucial juncture," said the Chief Minister.

Further, the 21-day lockdown will add to the huge strain that the state economy has been put under. Tamil Nadu announced an immediate relief package of Rs 3,280 crore, including supply of free ration commodities for the month of April and Rs 1,000 per family for wage loss.

Now that the lockdown will be extended by two more weeks, the impact on the poorest and daily wage workers will be the most as they face an immediate loss of livelihood and have very limited savings to face the adversity, Palaniswami asserted. Further, many businesses, especially the MSMEs are also facing a very difficult situation and could collapse without adequate and timely support. "We eagerly await the announcement of the economic and financial relief package," said Palaniswami.

"In this unprecedented situation, the government’s revenues have also taken a hit and the expenditure needs have risen considerably. Hence, as a one-time measure, I request that the fiscal deficit limits of 3 per cent of GSDP may be relaxed for the financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21. Further, additional borrowing of 33 per cent above the level permitted for the fiscal year 2019-20 may be allowed for 2020-21 to enable the States to meet the additional expenditure requirements," said the Chief Minister.

First Published: Wed, March 25 2020. 18:53 IST