Don’t allow train, air services in TN till May 31: CM to PM

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CHENNAI, May 11 (AGENCIES): Citing increasing COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Monday came out against resumption of passenger train and air services in the state till May 31 and sought more PCR kits from the Centre to ramp up the ongoing aggressive testing.

Palaniswami conveyed his views to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the video conference held by the latter with the chief ministers on ways to strengthen the COVID-19 containment strategy and stepping up of economic activities as the 54-day nationwide lockdown nears an end, an official release said.

“We know from media that regular train service to Chennai (from Delhi) and from Chennai will commence from May 12.  As the positive cases in Chennai are showing an increasing trend, don’t permit train services up to 31.5.2020, in my state,” the chief minister told Modi.

“I request you not to begin regular air services till 31.5.2020,” the release quoted Palaniswami as having further said. As on Sunday, a total of 2,43,037 samples had been tested in the state and 7,204 were found positive, he said.

The railways has announced resumption of a limited number of passenger services after an almost a 50-day hiatus since the national lockdown came into force in March. As many as 15 trains are to run from Tuesday on the Rajdhani route from Delhi to all the major cities, including Chennai, in the country. Tamil Nadu, especially its capital city, has been witnessing a steady spike in fresh cases in the past several days after the wholesale Koyambedu vegetable market here emerged as a major hotspot.

Against this background, Palaniswami told the Prime Minister that presently, 59,610 contacts and suspected people were under active quarantine in the state. “Effective medical treatment has ensured that the death rate is only 0.67 per cent and 1,959 patients have been discharged which works out to 27 per cent discharge rate. So far, the state has been maintaining the lowest death rate in India,” he said. Briefing Modi on the testing for coronavirus, he said the state has a capacity to screen 13,000 samples a day.

“I am informed that maximum tests (in the country) are being done by Tamil Nadu,” he said adding the state was continuing the strategy of aggressive targeted testing. He sought more number of PCR testing kits from the Centre. Also, he referred to the requests he had made during the earlier video conference interactions such as Rs 2,000 crore special grant to the state to enhance available medical equipment.

Palaiswami said the state has also sought nod for additional borrowing of 33 per cent above the permitted level for 2019-20 be allowed for 2020-21 as well and release of pending GST compensation.

“I also request an ad-hoc grant of Rs 1,000 crore from the National Diasaster Relief Fund (NDRF) immediately to procure medical, protective materials and for the movement of migrant labourers, the cost of which has been borne entirely by the state government,” he said.

He wanted the Chief Ministers Public Relief Fund to be made eligible to receive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contributions under Schedule-III of the Companies Act, 2013.

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