Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said the government needs to ensure that the number of green zones -- areas with no coronavirus cases in recent past -- in the state do not throw up infections as it grapples with a surge of coronavirus cases.
"We have to ensure the green zones remain green and are not infected," he said. "We also have to ensure the red zones turn into green."
Thackeray reached out to industries to help revive the economy during the fourth phase of the lockdown and appealed to people to make the state "atmanirbhar", or self-reliant, by resuming the industrial activity. Faced with a situation of lakhs of migrant workers having left the state, Thackeray urged locals, or “sons of the soil”, to come ahead and help in the progress and development of Maharashtra as it struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Around 50,000 manufacturing industries have already started in the state with 20,000 more expected to resume operations soon in the green zones. Wherever there is a shortage of labour, I call upon the locals to step ahead and help them to make the state self-sufficient,” Thackeray said.
His statement assumes significance after Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week exhorted the country to embrace ‘atmanirbharta’ (self-sufficiency) in the post-coronavirus world.
Maharashtra on Monday recorded 2,033 new cases, taking its tally to 35,058, while 51 more patients died -- 23 of them in Mumbai -- raising the toll to 1,249, said the health department.
This was the second consecutive day when the state has reported more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases, said a health department official. The tally of 2,033 new cases is the second highest single-day count after 2,347 infections recorded on May 17. The state also reported 51 fresh deaths, taking the fatality count to 1,249, he said.
In his address on Monday evening, Thackeray said efforts are on to give further relaxations in the green and orange zones, but there will be no allowances in the red zones. He said industries located under green zones are resuming their activities in a graded manner.
The state is making preparations for foreign investments by reserving more than 40,000 acres of land for them, and there will be no conditions for those willing to set up 'pollution-free' industries here.
“Some may say they have no resources to invest in the land in the current situation. No problem, we are ready to give them land on rent with basic amenities to set up their industries," Thackeray assured.
Thackeray said his government has cut down the number of permissions required to start a green industry, which he said should be environment-friendly and non-polluting.
"If industries cannot buy land for setting up plants, the state government is ready to lease it out," he said.
On the COVID-19 crisis, Thackeray said the state government has succeeded in slowing down the spread of the viral infection.
"The chain is not broken but the speed of infection has been checked," he said, adding the number of people willing to give their services in the fight against COVID-19 should increase further.
Thackeray also urged all migrants still stranded in the state to remain wherever they are since the government has started trains and buses to drop them to their home states around the country.
“Kindly do not walk on the roads and highways... it can lead to fatal accidents. We are making all efforts to send you home safely. We shall be starting similar arrangements for the local migrants in the state stranded in places like Mumbai from Konkan and western Maharashtra,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)