Coronavirus pandemic: Maharshtra Congress demands unemployment allowance

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Mumbai, 30 April 2020: The Corona Pandemic is the worst global health emergency after the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and all the countries in the world are trying to come to terms with the changed reality – the Government of India and Government of Maharashtra are no exception.  Sonia Gandhi, President AICC and the Congress leadership, want the Congress Party in Maharashtra to contribute constructively in fighting the Pandemic.

MPCC President,  Balasaheb Thorat and the AICC General Secretary, Mallikarjun Kharge have constituted a Task Force of 18 Members and 4 Ex Officio Members, with Prithviraj Chavan as the Chairman, Dr. Bhalchandra Mungekar as the Coordinator, and Dr. Amol Deshmukh as the Secretary. The Task Force met virtually and held four, two hour long Video Conferences, in which many valuable suggestions were made. The 4 sub-committees – Health; Socio-economic; Govt. Measures and Media & Helpline – have also met separately and their recommendations have been incorporated in the first report.


The First Report has been have submitted to the MPCC President. Also a separate report on the role of the Congress Party in Maharashtra has been submitted. The Task Force will submit a second report on the strategy of lifting the lockdown and for the economic revival.

The first report includes following recommendations in 5 Key Areas –

Medical and Health
· The Government must Impose Price Control on PPEs through uniform pricing policy and request the Central Government to waive off GST on PPE.
· The Government should clearly outline policy for supplying adequate PPE and N-95 masks to private medical professionals and hospitals.
· Government must rapidly increase testing by ensuring sufficient number of testing kits.
· State Government must take up with Central Government/ICMR and clarify about Rapid, anti-body testing and use HCQ.
· Testing for COVID-19 must be free in the hospitals registered under the Mahatma Phule Jeevandayee Arogya Yojna.
· Government must specify SOP for inclusion of private doctors for fight against COVID19. It can use Sangmaner or Alandi pattern in this regard.
· Maharashtra Government must ensure availability of ambulances and beds/ICUs for non-Covid patients, especially in rural Maharashtra.
· The Maharashtra Government should announce a policy for expectant mothers indicating the process and facilities near their due date, during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Farmers & Agriculture
· The task force recommends to waive-off interest on agricultural loans for six months
· The task force recommends to waive off electricity charges for six months.
· Ensure stable and robust supply chain. Farm produce must be procured and farmers must get remunerative price.
· All cotton including low quality cotton must be purchased by CCI and/or Maharashtra Government.
· Government must ensure adequate availability of seeds and fertilizers for upcoming Kharif sowing season.
· Government must declare a special package for poultry farms.

Availability of Food & PDS
·  Sonia Gandhi who brought the Food Security Bill had requested that 10kg of grain be provided free of cost till September to those who do not have ration cards.
· Maharashtra government must ensure adequate supply of dals, oil and sugar for next two months.

Lockdown related Issues
· Maharashtra government should take up with Central Govt. to decide a policy to bring back students stranded in Kota, Delhi and other states. Maharashtra Govt. must create a helpline number for students stranded across the country.
· Government of Maharashtra must appoint a nodal officer in the Mantralaya to address the concerns of stranded students.
· People stranded in green and orange zone within and outside the state must be allowed to travel back home subjected to quarantine requirements.
· The Maharashtra Government should also ensure inter-state coordination in relation to migrants from Maharashtra for supporting them with food, shelter, testing and transport.

Socio-Economic Issues:
India’s 90% working population is in the informal sector. The International Labor Organisation reported this month that 40 crore people will go into deeper poverty because of this pandemic.

· Unemployment allowance: Task Force recommends that Maharashtra should lead the way by providing unemployment allowance to all the unorganized sector workers in the state for next three months at the rate of Rs. 5000 per month. This should include all the farm laborers, hawkers, small rural shopkeepers, and other informal workers.
· Government should contribute part of the salary to the employees in SME sector.
The Task Force Members also congratulated the Maharashtra Government for taking proactive steps. The Task Force will be conducting interaction with key portfolio ministers of the State Government in the coming days to ensure better coordination and communication of recommendations.
The Task Force would continue to work constructively with the Government and other experts in the state to support the people of Maharashtra in this time of crisis.