KCR opposes passenger trains, Jagan bats for restoring public transport
Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao fears that resuming passenger train services would lead to a spike in Covid-19 cases across the country.Updated: May 11, 2020 20:02 IST
Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to restore the passenger train services immediately as it could exacerbate Covid-19 infection across the country while his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Jagan Mohan Reddy sought the removal of all restrictions on public transport.
At the Prime Minister’s video conference with the chief ministers of all the states to review the Covid-19 situation, Rao said several cities in the country, particularly major metropolises like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, were still reeling under high incidence of coronavirus.
“Under these circumstances, if passenger trains are operated, people in large numbers travel from one city to another and it is not possible to trace if there are any Covid-19 patients among them and who they get in touch with. It is not possible to conduct tests for everybody and it is also not possible to quarantine such a large number of train passengers. So, it is better to avoid running of passenger trains so hurriedly in the present circumstances,” the chief minister said.
KCR, as Rao is better known, however, supported the Centre’s move to introduce Shramik Trains for ferrying migrant labourers to their native places. “It is natural for the workers, who are stranded in other states due to lockdown, to long for returning to their villages to see their families. If we stop them, it would unnecessarily lead to agitations. They will come back to work after spending some time with their families,” he said.
He reminded that workers from Bihar who had gone back to their native places had returned to Telangana to work in rice mills. “So, we are also arranging special trains for migrant labourers who want to go back to their respective states,” he said.
The chief minister said the lockdown on account of Covid-19 had a serious impact on the country’s economy and the revenues of the states. “No state in the country is in a position to repay its loans. The Centre should take initiative in rescheduling all their loans, just as banks reschedule recovery of crop loans,” he said, adding that the Centre should also increase the limit of borrowings by relaxing norms of Financial Restructuring and Budgetary Management Act.
He also appealed to the Centre that the districts in Telangana which have not been reporting any positive/active cases for 14 days be designated green/orange zones to help restore economic activities in those areas.
On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy requested for restoration of public transport by removing all restrictions immediately. He said people should be allowed to take up their normal activity, whether they were migrant labourers or others who would like to attend to their duties.
“Many migrant labourers have gone back to their native places and unless there is a public transport facility, they cannot come back to their workplaces and if it doesn’t happen, economic activity cannot come back to normal. However, adequate care should be taken to prevent spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Jagan expressed concern over inadequate supply of raw material, which had severely affected the manufacturing sector in Andhra Pradesh “Since markets and retail sector are completely closed due to lockdown, there are no takers for agriculture products,” he said and demanded that the inter-state transport be allowed by removing all restrictions.
The Andhra CM also suggested reopening of all shopping malls with adequate safeguards.
“Standard Operating Procedures should be introduced to run commercial activity,” he said.
Jagan also demanded liberal funds from the Centre to develop hospital and health infrastructure in the state which required at least Rs 16,000 crore. Besides, long-term loans with less or zero interest be given to the states without bringing them under FRBM purview.