Expressing concern over the rise in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday said the use of face masks will have to be made mandatory if the spike continues. Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded 1,081 cases of the infection, the highest daily rise after February 24, which took the overall tally to 78,88,167, while the death toll is 1,47,860. On Tuesday, the state had reported 711 cases.
Talking to reporters here, Pawar said the state government and its administrative machinery were keeping a vigil to ensure things don’t go out of hand. “The use of face masks will have to be made mandatory if the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow,” he said. Replying to a question, the senior NCP leader, who is also the state finance minister, said that Maharashtra was to receive Rs 29,647 crore GST dues from the Centre as on March 2022.
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Two days ago, the state received Rs 14,145 crore, but it is yet to get Rs 15,502 crore, he said. “We still need to get Rs 1,029 crore from 2019-20, Rs 6,470 crore from 2020-21, while the dues of 2021-22 are Rs 8,003 crore,” he said. Pawar said the state government has foregone the revenue of Rs 3,500 crore by lowering tax on fuel and gas. He asserted that voting for the Rajya Sabha election will happen through open ballot and hence there was no question of anybody indulging in horse-trading.
“As per the strength of the state legislative Assembly, BJP can get two seats elected, while Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena one seat each. Shiv Sena has fielded one more candidate and NCP’s excess votes will go to the second candidate of Sena. Some independents are affiliated to Shiv Sena, some to BJP and some others to NCP. This is the reason for speculation about horse-trading,” he said. Pawar said NCP will move the court to seek permission to allow jailed party leaders – minister Nawab Malik and former home minister Anil Deshmukh to cast their votes in the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled to be held on June 10.
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