Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Par panel on COVID-19 slams rlys, praises Air India; bats for special package for tourism sector

New Delhi: A parliamentary standing committee slammed the railway ministry for its "unpreparedness" to tackle COVID-19, while praised Air India for its evacuation of Indians from abroad in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The crucial meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture was held two weeks after one of its members demanded an emergency meeting over the issue.

The meeting which was attended by 20 MPs slammed the Chairman Railway Board V K Yadav for being "unprepared" and said he made a "shoddy presentation", some members who attended the meeting said.

"While the aviation and tourism officials came with presentations with slides, Chairman Railway Board did not. He just read out from some papers he was carrying. He was unprepared and made a shoddy presentation," said an MP.

Yadav informed the Committee that over 60 per cent of tickets were cancelled this month due to coronavirus.

The tourism ministry official who attended the meeting said the tourism industry was hit hard by the spread of the disease and that business worth Rs 5 lakh crore was affected.

He said the impact was significant on 95 per cent of small and medium scale industries which have cash reserve only for 20-25 days after which they have to be shut down.

Some MPs suggested that the government plan a bailout package for the industry.

The panel members, specially those from Kerala, praised the Ministry of External Affairs for its handling of incoming traffic at airports.
18/03/20 PTI/Outlook
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