Amarinder seeks fiscal package from Modi as Covid cases surge in Punjab

Chandigarh: Amid surge in Covid cases and 50 per cent revenue decline for the first quarter of this fiscal in Punjab, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday sought from Prime Minister Narendra Modi a liberal financial package for states to fill the collection gap caused by the pandemic, and also flexibility on Covid-related terms of expenditure in SDRF.
During a video conference meet of the Prime Minister with Chief Ministers of some states to review the Covid situation, Capt Amarinder said the current cap of 35 per cent in State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for Covid related expenditure, as per MHA guidelines, is not sufficient to meet the current requirements. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan also participated in the meeting.
The Chief Minister thanked the Union Government for accepting Punjab’s proposal to set up a National Institute of Virology for the North Zone and said the state government will soon give 25 acres of land for the Institute for ICMR for the purpose.
Citing the state’s rising cases of Covid, which have gone up to 24,891 with 604 deaths, Capt Amarinder urged the Prime Minister to review the UGC decision on mandatory exams for exit classes to be held by September 30.
Punjab may not be in a position to conduct exams in September as it may be facing its peak at that time, he said, suggesting promoting these students promoted on past performance and internal assessment, with option to take exams later for those wanting to improve their performance.
He also sought central government assistance for online school education, especially for poor children of Classes X and XII. More money was needed for creating the infrastructure needed to support online education, he added.
Though Punjab was conducting 23,000 tests per million for Covid (higher than the national average), and planned to increase RT-PCR tests from 12000 to 20000 in the next 15 days, it needed to scale up the testing capacity further, the Chief Minister stressed.