New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday (May 11) said the nationwide lockdown to control coronavirus will have to continue beyond May 17, as he held a video conference with all the chief ministers and UTs that lasted over six hours. He asked the states to give suggestions before May 15 on what economic activities should be allowed and how to go about it.
Requesting all the Chief Ministers for specific feedback on lockdown, PM Modi said, “I request you all to share with me by 15th May, a broad strategy on how you each one of you would want to deal with the lockdown regime in your particular states. I want states to make a blueprint on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown.”
Prime Minister said we will need an all-encompassing approach to deal with various challenges that will arise before us. With the onset of Monsoon, there will be a proliferation of many non-COVID19 diseases, for which we must prepare and strengthen our medical and health systems.
Prime Minister further said now the effort should be to stop the spread of the COVID-19 to rural areas, adding that the suggestions made by the States for a roadmap on the Economy have been given due consideration.
“I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the 2nd phase and similarly the measures needed in the 3rd Phase are not needed in the fourth,” he said
PM Modi told the chief ministers, "Your enthusiasm and spirit will help us win this war against coronavirus. We are working on all the possibilities and ideas to open up economic activities. Life pre and post coronavirus will see a different culture in this country."
"We must all work towards engaging more technology in our education imparting systems to counter situations like this. There is ample scope in our country with regards to tourism even post coronavirus we will have to explore that," PM Modi said.
Prime Minister thanked the Chief Ministers for their proactive role in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 and for their valuable suggestions emanating out of their grassroots level experience. He said that we must understand that the World has fundamentally changed post-COVID-19. Now the World will be Pre-Corona, Post-Corona just like the case of the World Wars. And this would entail significant changes in how we function.
He said the new way of life would be on the principle of “Jan Se lekar Jag Tak”, from an individual to the whole of humanity, adding "we must all plan for the new reality," adding “Even as we look at the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown, we should constantly remember that till we do not find a vaccine or a solution, the biggest weapon with us to the fight the virus is social distancing.”
Referring to the resumption of train services, the Prime Minister said, this is needed to rev up the economic activity, but said that all the routes will not be resumed. Prime Minister said only a limited number of trains would ply.
The Prime Minister said he continues to feel optimistic when not even a single state sounded despondent and that this collective determination will make India win in its fight against COVID-19, adding that the Post-COVID era also brings opportunities that India must leverage.
Prime Minister reaffirmed the importance of Do Gaz Ki doori and added that suggestion of night curfew raised by many CMs would surely reaffirm the feeling of caution among people.
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister said, “We now have a reasonably clear indication as to the geographical spread of the pandemic in India, including the worst affected areas. Moreover, over the past few weeks, officials have understood operating procedures in a time such as this, right up to the District level.”
He said that this understanding of the spread of COVID-19 will help the country in having a focussed fight against it, adding “And therefore, we can now further focus our strategy in this battle against coronavirus, as should be the case. We have a twofold challenge – to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually while adhering to all the guidelines, and we will have to work towards achieving both these objectives.”
The Chief Ministers appreciated the Prime Minister's leadership in the country’s fight against COVID-19 and highlighted the need to strengthen the medical and health infrastructure in the country.
Several of them pointed out that with the return of migrants, there is a need to concentrate on strict implementation of the social distancing guidelines, usage of masks, and sanitization in order to curb the spread through fresh infection, especially in rural areas.
The compulsory quarantining of the stranded Indians returning from abroad was also highlighted. The Chief Ministers in their suggestions on the economy have sought support to MSMEs, Infrastructure projects like Power, easing of interest rates on loans, and assured market access to the agricultural produce.
Chief ministers of several states asked the Prime Minister to let them play a bigger role in handling the coronavirus crisis by forming and changing lockdown guidelines for their states as they are more aware of the situation. Among those pitching for more freedom to decide the response to the virus were CMs of Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar joined the chief ministers opposing the Centre's move to run passenger trains from tomorrow. He further suggests the extension of lockdown until the end of the month. Speaking on the issue of the migrants, Kumar urges the Centre to make arrangements for transporting migrants to their homes in a time-bound manner of a week.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the Centre is discriminating against the state amid coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic during a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while adding "We are together in this crisis, however, somehow West Bengal has been targeted by the central government to get political mileage."
She, however, appealed to the Prime Minister and all other political parties not to engage in any sort of politics during coronavirus crisis, while asking everyone to come forward and work together in the hour of crisis.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that passenger trains and air services in the state should not resume till May 31 to contain coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, as the 54-day nationwide lockdown nears an end.
He said, "We know from media that regular train service to Chennai (from Delhi) and from Chennai will commence from May 12. As the positive cases in Chennai are showing an increasing trend, don't permit train services up to 31.5.2020, in my state," adding "I request you not to begin regular air services till 31.5.2020."
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao also urged the PM not to allow the resumption of train services to contain the spread of coronavirus. He said the efforts were being made to prepare a vaccine for coronavirus and hoped that the first vaccine will come from India, adding "Companies in Hyderabad are also working hard. There are chances of the first vaccine being developed in Hyderabad. It is likely to be available in July-August. The situation will change with the availability of the vaccine."
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked PM Modi to show specific and concrete direction on the ongoing lockdown. A CMO official said Thackeray requested Modi to start local trains in Mumbai for essential services staff working in the city.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, however, said that economic activities should be allowed to resume in the national capital barring containment zones.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh pitched for extension of the lockdown, but with a carefully crafted strategy, backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of the states, to save lives and secure livelihoods. He said micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should be allowed to function in red zones with proper safeguards.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu requested the PM for TrueNat machines for quick COVID-19 testing as a large number of stranded people have begun returning to the northeastern state. TrueNat is a tuberculosis testing machine, which the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved for coronavirus tests as it can provide results within an hour, if the case is negative. However, for positive cases, it has to be reconfirmed through other methods.
Meanwhile, Goa CM Pramod Sawant urged the PM Modi to lift curbs on inter-state public transport partially and demanded resumption of mining activity and tourism to kickstart the state economy. Goa, which has been tagged as a green zone with no COVID-19 case as of now, has partially lifted curbs on its economic activities.