Representative Image. (Credits: PTI)
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested chief ministers to share with the Centre, by May 15, “a broad strategy on how each one of you would want to deal with the lockdown regime.” While some states have supported extension of the lockdown, most have asked for easing restrictions as well as more autonomy in deciding demarcation of areas as red, green, orange zones which as of now is determined by the Centre. The 54-day lockdown in three phases to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic is due to end on May 17.
Here is what states have suggested so far:
Maharashtra, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths from the virus, wants strict lockdown measures to continue in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Pune, Solapur, Aurangabad and Malegaon till May 31. The state also wants complete stop of inter-state and inter-district transport of all kinds. A state official said that in the rest of the state, Centre’s guidelines will be implemented to be announced before lockdown 3.0 ends on May 17.
Gujarat with the second-highest number of positive cases wants resumption of economic activities in major urban centres. “If we keep people away from their jobs and professions, it will prove catastrophic for them and their families. Even state’s economic condition will deteriorate if this situation persists,” said Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. “Economic activity is also important. Now, people cannot afford to sit at home fearing coronavirus. Our government is also of the same opinion,” said Patel.
The Delhi government in its proposal to the Centre suggested opening markets, shopping complexes and operation of buses and metro services with strict social distancing norms. The government has also mooted construction activities in the national capital and that movement of labourers within Delhi be allowed, sources in the government said.
Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala had said on Friday that he favours an extension of lockdown but with more leniency and states to be given liberty to decide what activities should be allowed for a gradual return to normalcy. Chautala said lockdown measure has to remain in place while citing the recent spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the state.
With some offices in the state reopening with 50 per cent staff strength or even less, Chautala said the sooner offices are brought back to normal functioning, the better it will be. However, he made it clear that strict measures will have to continue in containment and red zones. “But in orange and green zones, states should have their own liberty on what to allow according to what regulation so that life comes back to normalcy,” he said.
Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha
The Bihar government has urged the Centre to extend the nationwide lockdown till the end of this month besides keeping air and rail traffic, other than Shramik Special trains, suspended during the period in view of the situation that has emerged following the return of migrants to Bihar from across the country on a large scale.
There has been a spurt in Covid-19 cases in Bihar since return of migrants gained momentum with the plying of Shramik Special trains. About 2.5 lakh people have returned by train since May 4 and the number of migrants who have tested positive since then stands at 358.
Facing a similar migrant crisis and increase in number of positive cases, Jharkhand and Odisha too want a continuation of lockdown with strict curbs on movement of people.
Tamil Nadu, though inclined to further ease curbs to pep up the economy, has categorically told the Centre it was against opening up air and train services till May 31 as the number of coronavirus cases in the state inched towards 10,000 only to be behind Maharashtra. Also, the government is unlikely to resume operation of state-run buses.
As per sources in the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), the West Bengal government supports Centre extending the lockdown but wants the states to be allowed to decide on relaxations in their respective areas. The TMC sources said the state government is keen on having more relaxations during the lockdown and wants clarity on the resumption of rail and air services. West Bengal wants more autonomy to decide on the marking of “zones” during the lockdown, namely green, orange and red, according to the Covid-19 situation. It also wants the Centre to release its “legitimate dues” so that it can fight the pandemic more effectively, said sources.
The Mizoram government on Friday extended lockdown till May 31 to check the spread of coronavirus infection. The decision was taken after various political parties and several organisations, including those of NGOs, churches and doctors, favoured extension of the lockdown at a meeting on Thursday. The state will be releasing new guidelines for the extended lockdown and has formed a task group to study about extending insurance cover to frontline workers such as police, village or local-level task force volunteers, government employees on special duty and those who pick garbage from quarantine facilities.
The state supports extension of the nationwide lockdown for the fourth time but the state government has emphasised the need to restart businesses. Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has urged the Centre to allow the states to decide on red, green, orange zones based on the severity of the coronavirus situation in the districts under their jurisdiction during the fourth phase of the lockdown. Baghel said it is necessary to restart commercial activities with complete precaution in order to bring the economy back on track but also cautioned that opening of inter-state borders at this moment will not be appropriate. The chief minister wrote to PM Modi with a detailed list of easing restrictions in the fourth phase of lockdown.
Kerala sought industrial and commercial activities to be allowed in rural and urban areas except in containment zones, the opening of domestic air service, intra-state passenger trains and metro rail services, though it was not keen for inter-state railway services at present. It has also suggested intra-district bus service with a limited number of passengers and strict health protocols, including social distancing. Opening of the hospitality sector with strict social distancing inside restaurants has also been mooted.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said that the state has appealed the Centre to extend the lockdown by two more weeks. “We have already sent our detailed views on this,” he said. Sonowal told reporters in Guwahati that the state has also conveyed its views on the relaxations it wants in the fourth phase of the lockdown.
“After May 17, the government of India is going to relax so many things, let us wait for it,” said Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. “According to me they (Centre) will relax everything…. may be for things like five-star hotels and others they may not give permission for the time being, but for other things they are going to give permission. Let’s wait and see,” he told reporters in Bengaluru.
The lockdown will continue in its fourth phase but will witness some relaxations for which the administration launched a two-week-long programme on Friday for the training of all service providers including drivers, barbers, vendors and bakers to make them aware about personal safety, production and distribution of essential items. The Srinagar administration plans to train more than 10,000 service providers in the next one month while keeping the focus on public health aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. Training certificates to participants, PPE kits, protective gear, COVID tests, specially designed service tokens, movement passes, IT apps and online facilitation are some of the components of training modules.
According to officials, Punjab and Telangana along with other states want the lockdown to be continued but want states to be given the powers to decide the colour zones.
(With inputs from agencies)