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Increase coronavirus testing, facilitate Ravi crop harvest: Cong to govt


Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Congress urged the government on Tuesday to increase coronavirus testing in the country and also ensure adequate arrangement for smooth harvest and procurement of Ravi crop.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also urged the government to issue a notification on deferment of EMI payment of loans during the lockdown period as well as absorb the interest subvention of interest accrued during the period.

Referring to the religious congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin area which left several people affected by the virus, he said at a press conference addressed through video conferencing that this is not the time for a blame-game.

Police and paramilitary personnel cordoned off a major area in Nizamuddin West in south Delhi while over 200 people have been kept in isolation in hospitals after several people who took part in a religious congregation there earlier this month showed COVID-19 symptoms.

Referring to lakhs of migrant labourers trying to reach their native places traversing long distances by foot, the Congress leader said, "We request the government to make arrangements and ensure that those on the streets, desperately trying to get home should be helped in getting home safely."

He also called upon the government to make use of all Jan Dhan accounts, and as a contingency measure transfer Rs 10,000 into the bank account of every family to ensure that at their essentials expenses are taken care of for at least a month.

Tewari also called upon the prime minister to talk to states to ensure adequate facilities and arrangements for smooth harvest and storage of the Ravi crop, which will be ready in the next 15 days.

"We request the finance minister to ensure that the RBI circular regarding EMIs (being deferred for three months) be issued widely and that interest subvention arrangement be made for the interest on the deferred EMI payments," he said.

Calling upon the government to allow more testing to find out coronavirus positive cases, Tewari said something needs to be done to increase testing and ensure that India does not enter the community transmission stage of the disease.

India currently is the lowest tested nation in the world. COVID-19 is progressing towards phase three or community transmission and the only way to deal with it in a better manner is to conduct as many tests as possible, he said

Highlighting the problem of inadequate testing equipment as only four companies are currently manufacturing those in the country, he said the government has given permission to 17 more firms, but they cannot market their products before they get FDA and European Union approval.

It is not easy to get FDA or EU approval in the current scenario and hence "we request the government to come up with a plan to get the maximum number of testing kits without compromising with the quality and make the same available across India", the Congress leader said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued an advisory and they are also emphasising on the need for conducting more tests, Tewari noted, adding that the only antidote to spread of COVID-19 is more testing.

Tewari said, India's ratio for coronavirus testing is the lowest at 32 for every 10 lakh people while in the UK it is 921 for every 10 lakh people and the USA it is 2,600 for every 10 lakh people.

What is extremely important, Tewari said, is to ensure quality of the equipment that is imported.

Highlighting the procurement problem that the Rabi crop producing states might be facing in the next few days, the Congress leader said 152.7 million tonnes of crop is expected to come in the market, which are currently shut due to the lockdown.

He feared the country would be faced by a big problem in the next 15 days on harvesting and storage of Rabi crop.

"We demand that the prime minister and the food minister talk to the state governments on how to make arrangement of harvesting and storage of Rabi crop," Tewari said.

Asked on who is to be blamed for the Nizamuddin incident, he said, "This is not the time for blame game. This is not the time to check the intentions of governments now. People should adopt restraint... A time will come for these questions to be asked. But, this is not the right time."

"We need to learn from every error that is being made and we need to make sure that the error is not repeated anywhere else in the country," Tewari said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, March 31 2020. 21:38 IST