Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said he has sought more time from the civil aviation ministry to resume domestic air travel in the state and added that he cannot ensure if lockdown will be over by May 31 as "multiplication of virus" is picking up.
"We cannot say that lockdown will be over by May 31. We will have to see how we will go forward. The coming time is crucial as the multiplication of the virus is picking up. I want to assure the medical fraternity that we are with them in all ways," Thackeray said.
"Today morning, I spoke to civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri and requested him to give us some time to do preparations (to resume domestic air travel)," he said.
civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri had on Thursday said that a minimum and maximum fare for three months has been set for the domestic flight services, which resume from May 25.
The Maharashtra chief minister further asserted that the fight against COVID-19 is "going to be tougher" now but there is no need to panic as the state government is prepared with extra health facilities.
Maharashtra has crossed the 47,000 mark for COVID-19 cases, of which the number of active patients is 33,786 and over 13,000 have recovered from the disease.
As monsoon is approaching, Thackeray said, "In the rainy season, related ailments will be there too. So, we need to take extra precautions."
Thackeray also said it was wrong to impose the lockdown suddenly and now it cannot be lifted all at once.
Amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, Thackeray also said there was a need to be extra cautious during the upcoming monsoon.
"It was wrong to impose the lockdown suddenly. It will be equally wrong to lift it in one go. It will be a double whammy for our own people," he said in a televised message.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown from March 24 midnight to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection.
It was later extended, and currently the fourth phase of lockdown, with some relaxations, is on and will continue till May 31.
Thackeray, whose party Shiv Sena parted ways with long-term ally Bharatiya Janata Party last year, said though the Union government has been of little help, he would not indulge in any political mudslinging.
"The Maharashtra government has not yet received its due GST amount. The Centres share of train ticket cost (for facilitating transportation of migrant labourers to their native places) is yet to be received. There is still shortage of some medicines. Earlier, we did face shortage of PPE kits and other equipment, he said.
With inputs from PTI