In a letter written on Wednesday, Edappadi K Palaniswami also requested a slew of other benefits to help people survive the pandemic.

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Coronavirus Coronavirus Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 19:40

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi K Palaniswami has requested Rs 4000 crore as a relief package from the Centre to tide over the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, the Chief Minister lauded him on his ‘bold and decisive measures’ taken to address the spread of coronavirus in the country. Pledging Tamil Nadu’s solidarity with his efforts to tackle the pandemic, the letter said, “The Government of Tamil Nadu is determined to stand firm with the Government of India to protect the country from the consequences of this virus pandemic.”

He requested Rs 3000 crore assistance from the Centre towards augmenting and strengthening the health infrastructure in the state, Rs 500 crore towards Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) where the workers will be forced to stay jobless due to the prevailing situation and Rs 500 towards providing special relief to those working in the unorganised sector in Tamil Nadu. “I request you to allot a sum of Rs 500 crores to provide a special wage loss and relief package for unorganized sector workers in the State to help them overcome their immediate hardships.”

Thanking the Prime Minister for announcing a Rs 15,000 crore package to strengthen the health infrastructure across the country, the Chief Minister stated that he had also recently announced several relief measures for the people of Tamil Nadu who would be affected in the lockdown period announced in the state till March 31.

Listing down the measures taken by the government of Tamil Nadu to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, he stated that 10,000 beds have been earmarked across the state to treat COVID-19 patients. He also pointed towards Tamil Nadu’s vulnerability towards SARS-CoV-2 due to the large number of international passengers using the four international airports in the state and the fact that Tamil Nadu shares its borders with states where the initial outbreak of the disease was severe. “Hence, while immediate measures have been taken, we will need to prepare for a significantly higher case load in the coming weeks and months,” he wrote.

The Chief Minister had recently announced Rs 3820 crore for supplying ration items free of cost to the people of Tamil Nadu for the month of April and Rs 1000 per family for loss of wages due to the lockdown till March 31. Now that the lockdown has been extended till April 15 due to the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Chief Minister emphasised that this would add to the burden of the poorest of the poor. “..the impact on the poorest and daily wage workers will be the most as they face an immediate loss of livelihood and have very limited savings to face the adversity.”

In addition to the request for a special relief package, Edappadi K Palaniswami also requested the Prime Minister to consider rescheduling bank loan repayments for at least six months.

“Hence, I request that as a special measure, bank loan repayments can be rescheduled at least for two quarters, without treating them as NPAs. Interest and penalties can be waived for the two quarters. The working capital loans to all industries and businesses can be enhanced by 50 per cent without seeking any additional collateral from the enterprises,” he wrote.

He also sought for relaxation in the union norms of fiscal deficit and borrowing that a state can undertake. “Further, additional borrowing of 33 per cent above the level permitted for the fiscal year 2019-20 may be allowed for 2020-21 to enable the States to meet the additional expenditure requirements,” the letter requested.