Sources indicated that this was a calibrated evolution in the strategy in dealing with COVID-19. Guidelines to be issued on the extended lockdown through the PM’s address by Monday may see some relaxations. (दिल्ली में लॉकडाउन: जानिए क्या रहेगा खुला-क्या रहेगा बंद)
NEW DELHI: The country is set for an extended lockdown of two more weeks till the end of April after nearly all chief ministers asked for the same in a meeting with PM Modi on Saturday and the Centre said it was considering the request. “PM emphasized the criticality of the coming 3-4 weeks for determining the impact of the steps taken until now to contain the virus. Talking about the exit plan, the PM said that there seems to be a consensus among the states on extending the lockdown by another two weeks. He underlined that the motto of the government earlier was ‘Jaan hai to jahaan hai’ but now it is ‘Jaan bhi, jahaan bhi’,” a government statement said. Sources indicated that this was a calibrated evolution in the strategy in dealing with COVID-19. Guidelines to be issued on the extended lockdown through the PM’s address by Monday may see some relaxations. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal said PM suggested dividing areas into red, orange and green zones to allow starting small industries in the latter two zones through a “lock-in” strategy where workers in limited strength would work inside factories with social distancing and sleep inside the unit at night. The red zone will be one with the hotspots and maximum cases while the orange zone will be those where people are under surveillance and green zone which has negligible cases. “Lockdown will be there in all zones but we want economic activity to start in a phased manner,” Lal said. Chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee meanwhile claimed the PM has decided upon the lockdown’s extension till April 30. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray also said a lockdown till April 30 was required in wake of rising cases. “The CMs were unanimous in their view that the lockdown is extended till April 30. The PM supported the view and his mind was that this was a must in the present global scenario and that our country should move cautiously. The Centre will shortly announce it,” Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanswamy, who was present in the meeting, told a Congress party briefing later in the day. He also said PM wanted ways to be found for opening up industries in a staggered manner and the states to take a call on the same. “CMs were concerned that people had lost their livelihood and migrant laborers wanted to return to their native states”, he said. (दिल्ली में लॉकडाउन)
Relaxations for farm, marine sector
The farm and marine sectors would be exempt from the lockdown, the PM told the CMs. Narayanswamy said the PM wanted farm activity for harvesting to continue during the lockdown and that the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, 2003 would be amended to enable buying the produce from the farmers’ doorstep. The Centre also confirmed with a statement saying that “PM suggested that direct marketing for farm produce can be incentivized to prevent crowding in mandis, for which model APMC laws should be reformed swiftly. Such steps will help farmers sell products at their doorstep.” Centre has also asked bureaucrats of joint secretary level and above and ministers to start coming to office from Monday.
Why extended lockdown
The government seemed to be backing an extended lockdown citing an assessment that without taking lockdown and containment measures since March 25, the number of cases would have risen to 8.2 lakh by April 15 and to 1.2 lakh if only containment measures were undertaken. But with both measures, India stood at 7,529 cases so far. The WHO’s statement on Thursday that lifting lockdown restrictions too quickly could lead a deadly resurgence of COVID-19 in various countries, is also playing on the government’s mind, government officials told ET. Italy on Thursday had decided to extend its lockdown till May 3. The number of deaths in the country has risen to 242 on Saturday and tripled in the last six days. The rising number of infected cases as well as the deaths in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana are also dictating the Centre’s impending decision to extend the lockdown, with major urban centers being a concern. Public transport services like buses, trains and airlines could continue to be grounded during the extended lockdown.