Tamil Nadu COVID-19 wrap: Govt urges Centre to release GST arrears; state tally crosses 4 lakh

With the rise in COVID-19 cases, Tamil Nadu may ban tourists visiting Nilgiris from the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Kerala.

The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday urged the Centre to expedite the release of its GST arrears, amounting to Rs 12,258.94 crore since 2018-19, and the outstanding Integrated GST of Rs 4,073 crore for the 2017-2018 fiscal.

Further, the state government said, in view of COVID-19, which has imposed a fiscal burden on Tamil Nadu in terms of scaling up medicare infrastructure, the Centre should continue with the GST compensation currently being enforced.

This measure should continue to ensure states do not suffer a setback on the fiscal front, D Jayakumar, Minister for Fisheries, Personnel and Administrative Reforms, who participated in the 41st meeting of the GST council on Thursday via video conference, demanded.

Jayakumar pointed out that the Centre is currently levying a cess in order to compensate states.

“The central government has the full responsibility to find other sources of revenue to augment the upper tax package in order to continue to provide compensation to the states. If necessary, the Central government should come forward to ensure further legislation to extend the deadline for levying GST compensation surcharge to more than five years,” Jayakumar said.

Govt may ban tourists in Nilgiris

The Tamil Nadu government will take a call on banning tourists visiting Nilgiris district from the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Kerala, Nilgiris district Collector Innocent Divya said on Thursday. Since coronavirus cases are on the rise, the district has curbed issuing of e-passes, which were found to be misused for tourism purpose, she said.

In the area, there are 280 beds in two government hospitals and a school has been turned into a COVID-19 centre, said the Collector. An additional 500 beds will be arranged, she said. The district administration has asked the government to allow patients to be treated at ESI Hospital in nearby Coimbatore.

HCL financial support to Madras Crocodile Bank, Arignar Anna Zoo

IT firm HCL Technologies has extended its support to the cash-strapped Chennai Zoo and Madras Crocodile Bank Trust to tide over the COVID-19 pandemic. Lack of tourists due to the pandemic has affected the facilities’ revenue streams. HCL said in a statement it would provide financial support to help feed the animals at the two centres, besides providing salaries to the caretakers and other workers.

The Madras Crocodile Bank is home to over 2,000 adult and 100 juvenile crocodiles, while the zoo at neighbouring Vandalur has 2,700 animals of nearly 170 species, including mammals, birds and reptiles.

One more lab approved for COVID-19 testing

One more lab in Tamil Nadu has been approved for COVID-19. Tagore Medical College and Hospital in Chennai was approved for testing on Thursday. With this, the number of labs for COVID-19 testing in the state has gone up to 146 (63 government and 83 private labs).

IIT-M coordinating “national efforts to create crash courses” for rural learners

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) on Thursday said it was coordinating a “national effort to create crash courses” for rural learners affected by the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Lectures of these courses will be telecast on educational television channels.

Around 300 hours of video lectures have already been created under this initiative, aimed at helping students who could not attend classes due to the lockdown, the institute said in a release. “The focus is to create crash courses with an emphasis on problem-solving approaches. The lectures were recorded by faculty from various central universities from their homes,” it said.

The schedule of lectures will be updated on the website of the DTH channel for education, Swayam Prabha, The content will be repeated several times during the day for students’ convenience, it said. The first broadcast is scheduled for Friday.

Tamil Nadu reaches 4 lakh Covid-19 cases

With 5,981 fresh Covid-19 cases reported on Thursday, the virus tally crossed four lakh in Tamil Nadu. The state reported 118 deaths, taking the toll to 6,948.

The recovery rate stood at 85.2 per cent, with 5,870 persons discharged. There are still 52,364 active cases in the state.

Chennai recorded 1,286 Covid-19 cases and 32 deaths on Thursday. So far, the city has reported 1,30,564 positive cases.

Neighbouring districts Chengalpattu (298), Kancheepuram (256) and Tiruvallur (323) recorded 877 of the total cases, while the other districts with high level of infections were Coimbatore (439), Salem (413) and Cuddalore (261).

Thirty returnees from other places tested positive in the state today. The total number of samples tested in the state has reached 44,98,706. In the last 24 hours, 76,345 samples have been tested.

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