Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement on space exploration amid a nationwide migrant crisis is “bizarre”, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a series of tweets on Saturday, following her press conference conducted to reveal the fourth tranche of the centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore coronavirus stimulus.
“When migrants can’t reach home safely, Finance Minister is talking of opening up planetary exploration and outer space travel to private sector. BIZARRE!,” he tweeted.
When migrants can’t reach home safely, Finance Minister is talking of opening up planetary exploration and outer space travel to private sector.
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) May 16, 2020
“One company stands to gain the most from today’s package. This is A-nirbhar Bharat,” he added.
The centre is denying states their legitimate dues, he said. “Tomorrow is the final press conference of FM. Hope at least in that she will tell us how much funds will be given to states in the next 6 months to deal with the economic & social crisis arising from #COVID19. States are being denied their legitimate dues & this is hurting India,” he said.
Start-ups and private firms will get to use facilities and assets of the Indian Space Research Organisation or IRSO to improve their capacities, Ms Sitharaman said today as she announced reforms for eight sectors amid the coronavirus pandemic. This was her fourth briefing related to the stimulus package.
“Future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel will be open for private sector,” she said, adding, “India already has the benefit of an extraordinary institution like ISRO, but now lots of private players are also coming in with innovative space technology.
We will allow private players to benefit from ISRO’s assets and give them a level-playing field to boost India’s space sector further”.
Twenty-four migrants were killed and more than 30 were injured when the trucks they were travelling in collided at around 3 am in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district, about 200 km from the state capital Lucknow. They were among the scores that have died of road accidents, train mishaps and exhaustion while on their way to their home states.
The migrants have been stranded for weeks without jobs and money because of the coronavirus lockdown. The centre and states have provided special buses and train, but due to lack of money and information, thousands are travelling foot, cycles, trucks and commercial vehicle.