COVID-19: Maharashtra may divert all oxygen supply for medical use, says CM Uddhav

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday met a group of business leaders from the state to discuss the way forward to restrict the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The virtual meeting, held early in the afternoon between the CM and the industrialists, was led by banker Uday Kotak, who is the national president of industry lobby CII, officials said.

In face of the rising infections the state had recorded over 49,000 new infections on Saturday, contributing more than half to the national tally – Thackeray had on Friday said that he will consult all the stakeholders and announce the mitigation strategy in a couple of days.

Industry leaders had warned of immense hardships to the people if a lockdown is imposed again in Maharashtra.

Business leaders who participated in the meeting included Baba Kalyani, Reliance Industries’ Nikhil Meswani, Ajay Piramal, Sajjan Jindal, Sanjeev Bajaj, and realtors Boman Irani and Niranjan Hiranandani, among others, officials said.

The state government on Sunday announced a weekend lockdown in the state from 8 pm on Friday to 7 am on Monday in a bid to curb the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.

In the run-up to the CM’s speech on Friday, Anand Mahindra of the diversified Mahindra Group had tweeted concerns about imposing a lockdown and insisted on improving the health apparatus in the state.

Without naming Mahindra in his address, Thackeray had said that efforts have been underway to improve the health infrastructure, but added that we need doctors and staff to deliver healthcare as well.

Industrialists should rather focus on ways to get at least 50 doctors, nurses and health workers into the fold daily, Thackeray had said.

Maharashtra is among the most industrialised states in the country and attracts both people and capital from across the world for businesses.

Meanwhile, film and television producers met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday and offered full support for measures being taken to control the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the state.

Interacting with Hindi and Marathi film and TV producers online, Thackeray sought suggestions and cooperation, a statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said.

On Saturday, the CM had interacted with drama producers, multiplex and single screen owners as well as gym owners to ascertain their views on the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Nitin Datar, president of Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India told PTI he had suggested that, if the government so wished, he could speak to single screen owners, whose properties are closed due to the pandemic and various other reasons, to see if they can be used as COVID care centres.