Indicating the government’s thinking on balancing lives and livelihood in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the chief ministers of Indian states to focus on a graded exit from the national lockdown from May 3. In a video review conference with the chief ministers of Indian states on April 27, Mr Modi also asked them to plan for a step-by-step revival of economic activity in green zones that haven’t reported Covid-19 cases.
PM Modi underscored that the country had to think of the way ahead, beyond May 3, when the second round of the national lockdown ends. The states should strictly enforce the lockdown guidelines in the hotspots, or the red zone areas, and focus on converting them into orange zones – areas with a few Covid-19 cases – and thereafter to green zones, he said.
PM Modi also unveiled the government’s thinking on reviving the economy, the plan to evacuate Indians stranded abroad, the condition of migrant workers and stressed that fighting Covid-19 was a collective responsibility.The chief ministers of all Indian states, barring Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh, advised PM Modi to lift the restrictions.It was their fourth meeting with PM Modi regarding the coronavirus pandemic since March 20.
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma, who was the first to speak, said inter-state and inter-district restrictions will remain in force beyond May 3, and only essential services and medical travel will be allowed.Himachal Pradesh CM Jairam Thakur also favored an extension of the lockdown period and said easing restrictions at this stage could be dangerous considering the spike in cases in the adjoining states.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga said the people of the state support the central government regarding the coronavirus measures and would follow its instructions accordingly.Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy sought financial help and medical supplies, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), from the center. He said the Puducherry government wants an early end to the lockdown so that the industries could start their activities.
Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat said the state would allow business activities in a phased manner but under strict precautionary measures. “We should look towards normalizing the situation. Economic revival is a key to moving forward,” Mr Rawat said. He said that Uttarakhand’s main economic activity, tourism, has been badly affected.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the lockdown will continue till May 3. “We will not dilute the guideline,” Mr Kumar said. He gave also details about the measures being taken by the government. “We have started door-to-door screening, like the polio campaign; and four crore people have been screened so far,” he said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik favored the lockdown to continue but urged the center to take steps for economic revival. “I sincerely urge the Union government to initiate measures to kick-start the economy as we work together to curb the disease,” Mr Patnaik said.
Earlier, the meeting had asked the CMs of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Gujarat, and Haryana, to send their submissions in writing.The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that some 300 districts in the country are disease-free, while 297 districts did not have hotspots or areas with more than five cases. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that only 127 districts have been marked as red zones for the virus, indicating that the disease has been restricted to the hotspot areas.
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