HM Amit Shah speaks to CMs, lockdown likly to extend
NEW DELHI : Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to chief ministers on Thursday and sought their views on extension of the ongoing nationwide lockdown beyond May 31, officials said.
The telephonic conversations of the home minister came just three days before the end of the fourth phase of the lockdown.
The nationwide curbs was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. “The home minister spoke to all chief ministers and sought their views on extending the lockdown beyond May 31,” a home ministry official said.
During his talks with the chief ministers, Shah sought to know the areas of concern of the states and the sectors they want to open up further from June 1, the official said. Interestingly, till now, it was Prime Minister Modi who had interacted with all chief ministers through video conference before extension of each phase of the coronavirus-induced lockdown and sought their views.
This was for the first time that the home minister spoke to the chief ministers individually before the end of another phase of the lockdown. Shah was present in all the conferences of chief ministers along with the prime minister.
Details of the views of the chief ministers were not known immediately but it is understood that majority of them wanted the lockdown to continue in some form but also opening up of the economic activities and gradual return of the normal life, another official said.The central government is expected to announce its decision on Sunday.
As on Thursday, the death toll due to Covid-19 rose to 4,531 and the number of cases climbed to 1,58,333 in the country.The number of active Covid-19 cases stands at 86,110 while 67,691 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, the health ministry has said. Thus, around 42.75 per cent patients have recovered so far, it said.
While extending the fourth phase of the lockdown till May 31, the central government had announced continuation of prohibition on opening of schools, colleges and malls but allowed opening of shops and markets.
It said hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, malls, swimming pools, gyms will remain shut even as all social, political, religious functions, and places of worship will remain close till May 31.
The government, however, allowed limited operations of train and domestic flights. The Indian Railways is also running special trains since May 1 for transportation of migrant workers from different parts of the country to their native states.
The government has been concerned about sharp criticism of its strategy to counter coronavirus from the opposition as well as the state Chief Ministers, which has pushed it to change its stance on several occasions.
Home ministry sources yesterday said ultimately, the way forward regarding the lockdown “would be a political call”.The government’s options include continuation with the National Disaster Management Act, which empowers the Centre to take all the decisions regarding health, which is a state subject. Or it can allow the states to have a final call on how they wish to proceed.
Earlier today, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba had a two-hour video interaction this morning with municipal commissioners and district magistrates of 13 cities, including the four metros, to discuss the measures being taken for the containment of the virus.
(With Agency Inputs ).