Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to restore passenger train operations in the country till the spread of coronavirus was brought under control. He strongly pitched for rescheduling of loans obtained by the State governments, increasing FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) limits and also facilitate transportation of migrant workers to return to their home States.
Pointing out that efforts were underway to manufacture vaccine for coronavirus, the Chief Minister was optimistic that the vaccine would be developed in July or August in India with several Hyderabad-based companies making good progress in this direction. He said the current situation in the country will change only after vaccine is made available to the people.
Participating in the video conference held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with all the Chief Ministers of the country on Monday, Chandrashekhar Rao pointed out that majority of COVID-19 cases were detected in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. He felt that allowing passenger trains will lead to chaos and make containment of the deadly disease more difficult. “Under the prevailing circumstances, it will be difficult to monitor each passengers travelling in the trains. Neither are we equipped to conduct tests for everyone nor can we keep them in quarantine facilities. It will be better if the Centre decides against operating passenger trains for now,” he said.
The Chief Minister felt that people have no choice but learn to live with coronavirus. He asserted that the governments must take measures to create awareness among the people and allay their fears, besides preparing them for a long battle against the virus.
Chandrashekhar Rao explained how the State revenues had plunged due to the pandemic, with State governments in no position to repay their debts. He reiterated the need to reschedule loans obtained by the States. He urged the Centre to take the initiative and come to the rescue of the States. He also sought increase in FRBM limits that would facilitate States to obtain more loans.
The Chief Minister suggested that all States should be sympathetic and humane towards migrant workers. He pointed out that India was a country of sentimental people. He said migrant labourers left their families in native places to work in faraway locations for livelihood. “Under these trying times, they will definitely want to visit their families. If we allow them to travel to their native places, they will meet their families and return to work peacefully, failing which, there will be unrest,” he said.
He appreciated the Centre’s decision to operate Shramik Special trains for transportation of migrant labourers. He explained that the Telangana government was making travel arrangements for workers who wanted to visit their home States after taking all precautions. He said workers from Bihar who visited their families had returned to Telangana State happily to work in rice mills.
Chandrashekhar Rao said both the Centre and the States were effectively working together to contain spread of coronavirus in the country. He felt that the country as a unit was taking appropriate decisions at appropriate time to prevent the pandemic from spreading further and hoped to emerge victorious in the battle against coronavirus. He explained various measures being taken by the State government and said there was no shortage of equipment including PPE kits, masks, medicines and necessary beds in the hospitals.
The Chief Minister wanted all the States to strictly follow the lockdown rules in containment zones without any scope for negligence. However, he urged the Prime Minister to declare districts that do not have positive or active cases as green or orange zones, allowing the States to restore normalcy in such districts. He wanted the Centre to change the zones as per requests from the respective State governments without any delay.