Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday reviewed the COVID-19 situation in Pune district, which has recorded more than 78,000 cases so far and seen a spurt in infections in recent weeks.
He chaired a meeting of elected representatives, including MP and MLAs, and took stock of the COVID-19 situation and the local administration’s response to the pandemic so far.
This was Mr Thackeray’s first visit to Pune since the COVID-19 outbreak more than four months ago.
At the meeting, elected representatives put forth their views on the situation and suggested steps to curb the spread of the viral disease which has killed more than 1,800 people so far in the district.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, ministers Dilip Walse-Patil, Dattatray Bharne, Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol, Kothrud MLA and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil were present at the meeting.
Mr Patil, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said elected representatives cutting across parties in one voice emphasised on the need of ramping up medical facilities in terms of arranging more oxygenated and ICU beds in city hospitals.
“It was discussed that the number of cases will go up but patients should get proper medical facilities,” he said.
The former BJP minister said the local administration is thinking of setting up three jumbo hospitals for COVID-19 patients in Pune as part of mitigation measures.
“Setting up of these facilities will take sometime and the number of patients is increasing every day so there is a need to ramp up medical facilities in the existing hospitals and this demand was put forth by everyone before the Chief Minister,” the BJP legislator said.
However, no concrete answer was received on this demand, Mr Patil said.
The Chief Minister is also scheduled to hold a separate meeting with officials from Pune district and civic administrations.
Mayor Mohol said in the last four-and-a-half months, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has spent Rs 250 crore to 300 crore over COVID-19 management in the city and sought financial assistance from the state government.
“We told the CM saheb that the PMC is ready to contribute in creating jumbo facilities in the city, but considering the overall financial capacity and condition of the PMC, the state government should provide financial help to the civic body,” Mr Mohol said.
He said there were plans to ramp up testing capacity at state-run Sassoon General Hospital, but no concrete steps have been taken in that direction by the state government.
“So a demand was made (at the meeting) to expedite the process of ramping up that facility in the Sassoon Hospital,” the mayor added.
Mr Mohol said that several issues related to bills charged by private hospitals, availability of beds, shortage of oxygenated and ICU beds in the city, among others, were discussed at the meeting.