Published On: Sat, Apr 11th, 2020

Most of CMs ask PM to consider extending lockdown till April-end

New Delhi: There seems a growing unanimity among state chief ministers to continue with the ongoing shutdown for two more weeks. In the Chief Ministers’ conference convened by PM Modi on Saturday, there appeared to be near unanimity over continuation of lockdown till April 30.

There were indications that the Prime Minister’s Office is contemplating a graded lifting of lockdown measures

The CMs also seemed to agree on opening up the rural economy, especially grain markets. The suggestions included continuing the lockdown of airports, railway stations and metro trains.

There were indications that the Prime Minister’s Office is contemplating a graded lifting of lockdown measures, and marking the country into red, yellow and green zones, depending on the severity of the coronavirus spread.

The PMO will also review the situation with top officials and experts, sources added. After the meeting with CMs, the Prime Minister indicated in his remarks that based on recommendations of states, the lockdown might be extended by two weeks.

Sources indicated that at least ten Chief ministers “strongly advocated” an extension of the ongoing shutdown. While some CMs reportedly advised the PM to extend it “at least for the rest of April”, some have advocated “caution”, in case he decides against extending it.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has suggested the extension of the nationwide shutdown for “at least a fortnight”. The CM has already extended the shutdown in Punjab till May 1.

Singh is believed to have asked for a slew of relief measures, particularly one-time increase in borrowing limit from 3% to 4% of states’ GDP by amending the FRBM Act.

Sources say Singh has also sought “bonus” for farmers in the harvesting season.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal too batted for a “strict implementation and continuation” of the current shutdown “at least till April-end”.

Kejriwal, who is battling a crisis due to the Nizamuddin Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, has requested PM Modi to formulate a nationwide shutdown policy rather than leaving it to the states to formulate their own system.

Many states such as Rajasthan and Punjab have already formulated their own strategy, independent of the PM’s announcement of further course of action.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan thanked the Prime Minister for being available over phone. The PM told all CMs on Saturday that he would be available over phone for them 24/7, given the seriousness of the situation.

India, as on Saturday morning, has seen 6,565 active COVID-19 cases. Chauhan too batted against removing the lockdown. He also informed the PM that Madhya Pradesh has crisis management teams working at district levels on a war footing.

At Saturday’s meeting, a few CMs including Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, came wearing the face mask and PM Modi too was spotted wearing a white face cover.

Rajasthan and Odisha which have extended the shutdown made a strong pitch for nationwide shutdown as well.

At the CMs’ meeting, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath too favoured extending the lockdown till April-end.

On Friday, Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, during a Facebook address to ABVP cadre in JNU gave the clearest indication of the extended shutdown. “A few states have extended the shutdown because measures such as this are the only ways we can win the battle. If we have to get ready for another 15 days, we will need new volunteers.”

It may be mentioned here that the current shutdown ends on the night of April 14.

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