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Centre's COVID-19 aid next to nothing: Telangana CM

Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said on Wednesday that the assistance provided by the Centre to the state for handling the COVID-19 situation is next to nothing.

He told the Assembly that whatever the Centre had given for the Coronavirus battle is "negligible" and claimed that the state is tackling the situation on its own.

"What the state has got from the Centre is next to nothing," he said while replying to a short discussion on the COVID-19 situation in the state.

Rao asked the Union Ministers to stop making alleged statements about the Centre's aid, saying that they will be the ones who will lose respect by making such claims.

KCR, as Rao is popularly known, said Telangana was given Rs 256 crore under the National Health Mission (NHM) towards the state's share. Another Rs 90 crore was provided, but this too was adjusted against other funds due to the state.

He said that the Centre provided 647 ventilators but not a single one for free as the amount was adjusted under various heads in the Budget.

He said that the Centre also did not accept the state's demands for loan restructuring. The state had demanded a raise in the FRBM limit. The Centre raised the limit but linked it to conditions like implementing power reforms, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister claimed that Telangana effectively handled the pandemic by taking various measures on its own. He said Telangana with a low death rate and high recovery rate is on a better footing than many other states.

Pointing out that the COVID-19 threat has not ended, he appealed to the people to follow all the precautions for their own safety.

KCR said that the biggest lesson for the Centre and the states from COVID-19 is that they should increase health budgets and improve the health infrastructure. He assured the House that his government will enhance the state's allocation for health.

He listed the steps taken by the government for improving the infrastructure during the last five months. Pointing out that there were hardly any ventilators in government hospitals, he said his government procured 700-800 ventilators on its own, arranged 10,000 oxygen-supported patient beds, developed dedicated COVID hospitals, and provided the necessary infrastructure and medicines.

Rejecting the opposition criticism of his government for its handling of the COVID-19 situation, KCR said that in any pandemic more people die of fear than the disease. "The TRS government is trying to ensure that there is no panic among people but the opposition parties are keen only on targeting and maligning the government," he said.

He also said that the Telangana government would appoint a task force committee to monitor the fees being charged by private hospitals for COVID-19 treatment.

He assured members that tough action would be taken against those hospitals trying to fleece patients.

"It is very atrocious, is this the time (during the pandemic) to earn money, at a time when the whole world is suffering....We will appoint a task force with a senior IAS officer and take their report," he said in the Legislative Assembly during a short discussion on COVID-19 situation. Rao was responding to Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarkas comments over allegations that private hospitals charged exorbitant fees for COVID-19 treatment.

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