Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik on April 13 said the state government will provide five kg of ration to the state’s seven crore people and will also transfer Rs 1,500 in the bank accounts of 25 lakh construction workers and registered rickshaw pullers from April 14.

This came after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on April 13 announced 15 days of strict COVID-19 restrictions from April 14 at 8 pm, while ruling out the complete lockdown in the state. However, the essential services will be unhindered during the curfew.

“While our government has decided to put stricter restrictions in place for the next 15 days, we have also taken into account hardship and difficulties that daily wagers will face. That is why a package of around Rs 5,500 crore has been announced today by our Chief Minister,” Malik told ANI.

“Shiv Bhojan Thali, earlier given at Rs 10, will be given free for the period. The beneficiaries of ‘Niradhar’ scheme will also be paid in advance,” Malik added.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader hoped the people of the state will comply with the COVID-19 restrictions and expressed hope that they will have success after 15 days with their support.

Malik said that the decision is very crucial in our efforts to break the chain of transmissibility of COVID-19.

Further speaking about the oxygen shortage in the state, he said the state has a capacity to produce 12 lakh tonnes of oxygen, which is falling short.

“The state deputed to us are far-off. If the Air Force comes to our aid in airlifting the gas cylinders then it would be very helpful for us to serve the patients,” Malik further said.

Maharashtra on April 13 reported 60,212 fresh COVID-19 infections and 281 deaths, according to the State Health Department.

Thackeray on April 13 announced a series of strict restrictions in the state till May 1 including the imposition of Section 144 from April 14 in view of rising COVID-19 cases and but said he will not term the new restrictions as “lockdown”.

Under the new guidelines, all establishments, public places, activities will remain closed in the state. Only essential services will be exempted, and their operations to be unrestricted.

The guidelines said that cinema halls, theatres, auditoriums, amusement parks, gyms, sports complexes will remain closed till Section 144 is imposed in the state.

Local train and bus services will be allowed for essential services only and hotels and restaurants will allow only take-away home deliveries.

Several districts in Maharashtra including the capital Mumbai are severely hit by the second wave of COVID infections. Mumbai reported 7,898 new cases and 26 deaths in the last 24 hours, while Nagpur district reported 6,826 new COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths on April 13.