Coronavirus India Lockdown: All states have raised concerns about the crisis for thousands of migrants, stranded because of the lockdown since March-end.
New Delhi, May 11:
A central economic package to offset the revenue losses during the lockdown to combat coronavirus and autonomy in identifying and colour-coding the virus-hit districts were the two key demands of the states at their 6-hour videoconference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi today. PM Modi has assured them that the Centre is looking into ways to “open up the economy”. At the meeting, held to focus on life after May 17, when the nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end, the Prime Minister said the government had “decided to invite all Chief Ministers to speak” before a “considered view” is taken on the matter. Five states, including Punjab and Assam, have asked for an extension of the lockdown. Others, like Tamil Nadu and Telangana, asked that rail and air traffic not be started yet. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, engaged in a face-off with the Centre, accused it of discrimination and playing politics.
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Mamata Banerjee, one of the first to speak, reportedly attacked the centre saying it was “using coronavirus as an excuse” to play politics. “This is not the time to do politics, don’t bulldoze the federal structure,” the Bengal Chief Minister said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said economic activities should resume in the capital, except in coronavirus containment zones which are in strict lockdown to check the spread of the virus.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanisami urged PM Modi not to resume flights and trains this month. Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai, has seen a surge in coronavirus cases, he said.
On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy said it was important to reopen agricultural markets, public transport, markets and shopping malls with some SOPs to prevent infections. “Normalcy will revive the economy,” Jagan Reddy reportedly said.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recommended that rail, road and air traffic be allowed with restrictions and metro travel be allowed in the least affected parts of the state. “The state government should be given adequate flexibility to allow public transport subject to virus protocols,” Mr Vijayan said.
Chief Ministers like Punjab’s Amarinder Singh demanded that in case of a graded exit from the lockdown based on red, orange and green zones, state administrations be allowed to decide where restrictions can be eased.
All states raised concerns about the crisis for thousands of migrants, stranded because of the lockdown since March-end. Migrants left jobless and without food or shelter walking home thousands of kilometres away has been one of the most compelling sights during the shutdown.
Even after special trains started running from states to take migrants, students and others home, the desperation has not ended for many.
Economic measures to help migrants, small and medium industries and to help revive consumption were also discussed.
Though the number of cases showed the biggest jump on Monday, India also has a significantly improved recovery rate of 31 per cent. This morning, the number of coronavirus patients is 67,152 with 4,213 new cases in the last 24 hours.