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Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday welcomed the decision of the armed forces to plan a series of events to thank doctors, paramedics and policemen engaged in the country's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In a series of tweets, he said India has waged a strong fight against COVID-19 due to courageous frontline warriors who have cared and cured many.

"They are spectacular. India applauds them and their families," he said.

India's armed forces have always kept the nation safe. Even in times of disasters, they are out there helping people, the prime minister said.

"Now, our forces are, in a unique way, saying a big thank you to our frontline COVID-19 warriors for their endeavour towards making India COVID-19 free," he said.

The Indian armed forces will conduct fly-pasts, light up ships at sea, play military bands and shower flower petals on hospitals treating coronavirus patients on Sunday in a grand display of gratitude to lakhs of people like doctors, paramedics and policemen engaged in the country's fight against the pandemic.

The announcement was made on Friday by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat at a press conference here.

Earlier today, PM Modi reviewed the performance of the aviation and power sectors on Friday, with a focus on reducing costs and making them more efficient.

Reviewing the power sector, the prime minister underlined its importance in propelling the economy.

The need for an effective enforcement of contracts to attract private investment was also discussed.

At the review of the civil aviation sector, it was decided that the country's air space should be effectively used in a manner that the flying time for travellers is reduced and airlines save costs.

This will be done in close cooperation with the Department of Military Affairs, an official statement said.

The meet also reviewed the strategies that could help make India's civil aviation sector more efficient.

"For generation of more revenue as well as to bring in more efficiency at the airports, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has been asked to expedite the process of handing over of six more airports on PPP basis by commencing the tender process within three months," the statement said.

The civil aviation sector meeting, which was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri among others, also reviewed the e-DGCA project, aimed at bringing in more transparency in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation's office and helping all stakeholders by reducing the processing time for various licences and permissions.

"It was also decided that all reform initiatives taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the organisations under it should proceed in a time-bound manner," the statement said.

Later, in a tweet, Modi said aspects relating to the aviation sector were reviewed at the meeting.

"This includes ways to make airports more efficient and integrating the sector with latest technological advancements," he said.

The civil aviation sector has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced governments around the world to impose restrictions on the movement of people and virtually shut flight operations.

Reviewing the power sector, Modi asked officials to work towards ensuring round-the-clock supply of electricity to all consumers.

At the meeting on the power sector and the impact of COVID-19 on it, the prime minister also discussed various long-term reforms for enhancing the sustainability, resilience, and efficiency of the sector.

Measures to improve the viability of distribution companies, including tariff rationalisation and a timely release of subsidies, along with an improved governance, were discussed as well, a statement said.

Later, in a tweet, the prime minister said he discussed ways for further reforms in the power sector.

"The focus is on enhancing sustainability, resilience and improving efficiency," he said.

The statement said the discussions included measures regarding ease of doing business, propagation of renewables, flexibility in the supply of coal, the role of public-private partnerships and boosting investment in the power sector.

The meeting was attended by the home minister, finance minister and Minister of State for Power, Skill and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh, the statement said.

Modi had held a series of meetings on Thursday to discuss strategies to attract foreign investment, promote local manufacturing and boost the economy that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown to curb its spread.

He had reviewed the state of investments, the defence and aerospace sector, and the mine and minerals sector.

The government had first imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown beginning March 25 and later extended it till May 3. The lockdown shut businesses, stopped air and rail travel, and restricted the movement of people and goods.

The near-complete halt in economic activity may result in the country seeing a contraction in the GDP growth rate in the April-June quarter, some analysts have predicted.

In late March, the government had announced a Rs 1.7-lakh crore stimulus package comprising free foodgrains and cooking gas to the poor and cash doles to poor women and elderly people.

A second package, aimed at industries, particularly the small and medium enterprises that have been hit hard by the lockdown, is said to be in the works and is likely to be announced shortly.

The lockdown was extended by two weeks on Friday. The second phase of the lockdown was otherwise to end on May 3.

Further, PM Modi held discussions on labour welfare on Friday and said the country is proud of its hardworking labour force.

"We discussed ways through which this sector can power India's growth," the prime minister said in a tweet.

He said deliberations were held on labour welfare during the meeting.

"India is proud of our hardworking labour force," Modi said.

Migrant labourers are one of the most hard-hit segments during the coronavirus-induced lockdown as they have been out of jobs.

The meeting came on a day when trains were run to carry them back to their home states.


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