Mumbai: Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Friday urged the Maharashtra Government to resume distribution of newspapers amid the COVID-19 lockdown, as most citizens in the state don't have access to the Internet.
In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Chavan said the public perception that the government has barred newspapers from reaching them needs to be removed.
The state government must talk to newspaper distributors and provide them protection if necessary, he said.
"Give them protection and with help of volunteers, newspaper distribution should be resumed," he said.
The former Chief Minister also asked the government to provide meals to children of migrant workers in the state, with the help of anganwadis and social organisations.
A helpline number should be set up for distribution of meals, he added.
Flour mills should be included as essential service, he said, adding that police protection should be given to grocery stores and vegetable vendors to check on unruly behaviour and crowding.
Chavan further suggested that the government engage the services of doctors and health workers who have retired in the last two years during emergencies.
Coming to the issue of migrant labourers, Chavan said, the Central government has allocated Rs 31,000 crore for construction workers, while the state has given Rs 8,000 crore.
The state government should deposit Rs 5,000 every month in bank accounts of these workers, Chavan urged.
The Congress leader further said the disaster management fee, which is recovered from students of government universities every year, must be used to strengthen online education system.
Fixed charges levied in electricity bills of private businesses and commercial establishments should be waived off for the next three months, he said.
The Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) should not be deducted for micro and mini industrial workers and the government should bear 50 per cent of their wages for three months, Chavan suggested.