Extending the lockdown would be taken after May 3: PM Modi
NEW DELHI : As India enters final week of the lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday conveyed to chief ministers that the country will have to give importance to the economy as well as to continue the fight against coronavirus.
The prime minister underlined that the lockdown has “yielded positive results as the country has managed to save thousands of lives in the past one and a half months”, it said. The lockdown enforced by the Centre to arrest the spread of novel coronavirus in the country will continue in hotspots, Modi told chief ministers in a video conference on Monday. He indicated that the lockdown could continue beyond May 3 in parts of the country worst affected by the pandemic a.k.a hotspots or “red zones”.
Five of nine Chief Ministers at the meeting said the lockdown should end, while the rest were in favour of extending it for the sake of controlling the spread of COVID-19. However, no clear indication was made in the meeting on whether the lockdown will stay or will be extended.
PM Modi, who was interacting with the heads of states on the way ahead in the fight against the pandemic, said decision on extending the countrywide lockdown would be taken after May 3, when phase 2 ends. However, relaxations would depend on the situation in individual states and curbs would be lifted in districts that have shown improvement.
As the nationwide lockdown approaches its purported end on May 3rd, PM Modi held interaction with the Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors of Indian states and Union Territories on Monday morning. The meeting concluded after a span of almost three hours.
Addressing worries that the extended lockdown would come at a great cost, the Prime Minister told the Chief Ministers: “There is no need to worry on the economy front, our economy is good.”
The prime minister was wearing a white ‘gamcha’ (Indian stole for men) with green border. He has been using ‘gamcha’ to cover his face during such meets. The formula of ‘do gaz doori’ must be the new norms as impact of Covid-19 will remain visible in coming months
We have to give importance to economy as well as continue the fight against COVID-19, PM Modi told chief ministers.The focus of the meeting remained on boosting the plunged economy, rather than on lockdown extension, sources said.Among those present at the virtual meet, included Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and top officials from the PMO and Union Health Ministry.
The chief ministers who attended the meeting included Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), Uddhav Thackeray (Maharashtra), EK Palaniswami (Tamil Nadu), Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya), Trivendra Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Nitish Kumar (Bihar) and Naveen Patnaik (Odisha).
Assuring chief ministers on the condition of the economy, PM Modi said there was no reason to worry. He said economic activities could not be stopped forever but norms such as social distancing and face masks would become a part of daily life, not just in urban areas but also rural areas.
Sources told Newstrack24x7.com that more reforms were in the pipeline and would soon be announced by the government. The prime minister is likely to meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman amid demands to open up few more sectors of medium and small scale.
The meeting also saw some chief ministers raise their concerns. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar asked PM Modi and Shah to formulate a policy for bringing back people to states. Kumar was under fire when his government refused to bring back students stuck in Kota though UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath gave the nod for the move. Kumar said his decision was keeping in line with MHA guidelines but questioned how other states were allowed to proceed.
This was the fourth video conference of the prime minister with the chief ministers after the spread of Covid-19 in the country. The Centre has now allowed neighbourhood and standalone shops, including those located in residential complexes, in urban areas to open during the lockdown. But those in the markets continue to remain shut till May 3. However, opening of shops located in COVID-19 hotspot and containment zones, sale of non-essential items by e-commerce platforms and sale of liquor continue to be prohibited.
In the last interaction on April 11, several chief ministers had recommended extension of the 21-day lockdown by two weeks, which was slated to end on April 14 earlier. On April 14, the prime minister had announced that the lockdown is being extended till May 3.
Before the lockdown was announced on March 24, the Prime Minister had interacted with the chief ministers on March 20 to discuss ways and means to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ms Banerjee is reportedly upset because she felt bigger states had not been given the chance to speak. If the objective of the meeting was to decide on the lockdown, the bigger states should be consulted, said sources close to her.”Though she is not slotted to speak, she has decided to watch and speak when she gets the chance,” said sources.
(With Agency Inputs ).