File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing a Union Cabinet meeting. (Image: PIB)
The Union Cabinet on July 8 gave the go-ahead for the Rs 23,123 crore allocated to the Emergency Response and Heath Systems Preparedness Package as announced recently by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
This will create more infrastructure for pediatric care and hospital beds for children. Of the total fund outlay, Rs 15,000 crore would be contributed by the Centre and Rs 8,000 crore by the states.
New Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandavia, who took charge of the ministry earlier in the day, said the government's initial allocation of Rs 15,000 crore to battle Covid has borne fruit. He said the funds have been used to boost the number of Covid Dedicated Hospitals from 106 to 4,389.
"Rs 23,000 crores package to be given to deal with the problems that occurred in the second wave of COVID-19. It will be used jointly by the Central and state government," Mandavia said, while speaking to reporters following the Cabinet meeting.
The number of Dedicated Covid Health Centres have been increased from 0 to 8,338, he added. The number of Dedicated Covid Centres have been increased to 10,000, Mandavia added, while also noting that the number of oxygen supported beds have increased from 50,000 to 4,17,396.
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The Cabinet also green lit the government's earlier announcement to cover Agri Produce Market Committies (APMCs) under the Rs 1 lakh agriculture infrastructure fund. It was initially announced by the Finance Minister on 15 May, 2020. During the last budget, the government announced APMCs will also be covered under this, to develop them further.
Following the Cabinet meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar urged the protesting farmers to end their stir and resume talks with the Centre. "Government is ready for discussions. APMC will be strengthened," he said.
Tomar also noted that the Cabinet has made amendments to Coconut Development Board Act, 1971 to create the posts of Non-Executive Chairman and CEO and make provisions for the board to explore export opportunities abroad.