Why Maharashtra has gone under lockdown? | India Today Insight

Reeling with a huge spike in Covid cases every day and hospitals running out of beds, the Uddhav Thackeray government had to take this harsh step?

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, March 2021

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on April 13 announced a lockdown in the state, to be implemented from the night of April 14 in the wake of average 60,000 Covid cases being reported daily. Though Thackeray has refrained from calling it a lockdown, the restrictions imposed are reminiscent of the lockdown that was in place last year.


Thackeray has made it clear that people across the state will not be allowed to step out of their homes till April 30 unless there is a critical reason, such as a medical emergency. Shops selling essential commodities will be allowed to open between 7 am and 8 pm. Other shops, hotels, bars, restaurants, malls, cinema halls, spas and gymnasiums will remain completely closed.

Restaurants and liquor shops will be allowed to continue with takeaway service, though. Construction sites and factories where accommodation can be provided to the workers within the premises can operate. Buses and other local transport will continue. However, local trains in Mumbai will run only for essential service workers.


Inevitable step
The lockdown had become inevitable as Maharashtra has been witnessing an average 60,000 Covid cases daily since the past fortnight. Beds in almost all government and private hospitals are full. The average time for conducting a Covid test and make the report available has gone up to four days in contrast to the ideal time period of 24 hours. The state is also facing an acute shortage of Remdesivir injection, which is administered to patients with serious infection.


The shortage of oxygen has added to Thackeray’s worries. In Nalasopara, on the outskirts of Mumbai, 12 patients died at a private hospital on April 12, reportedly due to unavailability of oxygen. The same day, three patients died in Nagpur as they reportedly did not get oxygen on time. At least 27 patients were shifted from a Covid centre in Thane as oxygen supply ran out.


Thackeray said the state has been producing 1,200 metric tonnes of oxygen every day against its requirement of 2,000 metric tonnes. Of that, 900 metric tonnes of oxygen is being used for Covid patients alone. Thackeray blames the Union government for not allowing Maharashtra to transport oxygen from nearby states. “The Centre has allowed us to transport oxygen by road from the northeastern states thousands of kilometers away. That will take many days. I am going to write to the honourable prime minister with a request to allow air transport of oxygen cylinders,” Thackeray said in a Facebook address on April 13.


Inadequate measures
Thackeray assured his government will help daily wagers survive the lockdown period. He announced a help of Rs 1,500 each for the 1.5 million registered rickshaw drivers and an equal number of hawkers. People below poverty line will be provided with 3 kilos of wheat and 2 kilos of rice. The state government’s flagship ‘Shiv Bhojan’ meal, under which two chapatis, vegetables, rice and dal is provided for Rs 5, has been made free of cost. “All this will have a financial burden on the state exchequer, but I am not calling it a burden. It is my responsibility to take care of everyone,” Thackeray said.


The Maharashtra government, on April 11, decided on buy Remdesivir injections in bulk. It also has announced the setting up of three new Covid centres in Mumbai. Leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis says that it not enough. “The government has not given a thought to enhance health infrastructure in this difficult time. Many underprepared sections too have been excluded from the financial package,” he said in Nagpur on April 14.

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