State Chief Ministers Recommend Extending The Covid-19 Lockdown Till April 30
Several chief ministers recommended a two-week extension of the lockdown at their meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier today, according to a statement by the central government. This as India nears 8,000 Covid-19 positive cases and over 240 dead
It seems the centre has left this decision up to states, as its statement says nothing about extending the nation-wide lockdown that’s set to end next week on April 14. By Saturday afternoon, three states, Odisha, Punjab and Maharashtra, had already extended lockdowns in their regions, either across their state or in a graded fashion. Several others, such as Telengana, made similar announcements in the evening.
Soon after the meeting several chief ministers shared their views on social media regarding the need for additional financial support from the centre, more testing kits and protective gear for healthcare employees , as well as financial assistance for those worst affected by the lockdown.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel suggested continuing the ban on interstate traffic facilities through road, air, and rail.
Baghel said his state was amongst the first to have imposed a lockdown and that has helped arrest the spread of the virus in the region.
The initial 10 Corona positive cases have now recovered and have been discharged which the eight new cases that surfaced two days ago are being treated, all doing well, he said on Twitter. Only five districts have been found to have corona infection patients out of 28 districts of the state.
He appealed to the centre for more PPE kits (protection for first responders) and tests so that the state can enhance testing.
“Only 3,473 samples have been collected in the state between March 15 and April 10. Which is a very low average of 133 per day. The state should have the capacity to test about 3,000-5,000 samples per day,” he said.
“Requests have been made in the past also to the center regarding this.”
He also emphasised the need to offer financial relief to micro, small and medium enterprises and implored the centre announce an economic package for MSMEs
Baghel said of 56 lakh families in the state, 47 lakh poor families have been given a lump sum ration for 2 months. Sugar and salt have also been distributed. He said “states will definitely have to suffer an economic slowdown. An action plan should be prepared for each state to revive their economies .”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the lockdown in the state will continue till ‘at least’April 30.
Thackeray also said:
As of April 11 more than 33,000 tests have been conducted. Of these, 19,000 tests have been conducted in Mumbai, and 1,000 of those tested in Mumbai have been found Covid-9 positive.
But, 60 to 70 percent have mild symptoms, which is heartening. We are gradually discharging those who have recovered and are found negative for the virus while in quarantine.
Unfortunately, the number of deaths is high. Those above 60 years, suffer from heart trouble, obesity, kidney problems, high blood pressure, are in the high-risk group. Many cases came to hospitals only when things got worse.
The patients being detected now are those infected earlier and their contact cases. We are testing door-to-door and are finding asymptomatic patients. This means we are breaking the transmission chain. It will take time, as it is a global pandemic.Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also supported the decision to extend the lockdown.
“Prime Minister has taken correct decision to extend lockdown. Today, India’s position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost,” he posted on Twitter.
Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar said his state lockdown will continue zone-wise. Areas with the highest spread of the disease will be marked the Red Zone, whereas the rest will be labelled Orange Zone. He also said stores vending essential supplies will stay open longer so as to avoid crowding.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his state had already decided to extend the lockdown till May 1, with all educational institutions to be closed till June 30. Section 144 remains in place, along with prohibition of public service vehicles till May 1, he said in a government statement.
He too emphasised the need for more testing kits to be supplied by the centre, as well as rapid testing in the state’s hotspot areas of Nawanshahar, Dera Bassi and Mohali.
“It may be noted that the state has ordered 10 lakh such kits from ICMR, while raising inquiry about another 10000 in the open market.”
The chief minister sought Rs 500 crore to upgrade infrastructure of government hospitals in Punjab.
Seeking financial assistance for farmers and industry, the chief minister suggested;
- the central government defer recovery, and waiver of interest and penalties, on industrial loans for six months.
- think of innovative solutions for relief to daily wage workers and industrial labour either through ESIC funds or under MNREGA.
- allow village panchayats and municipalities to utilise the 14th Finance Commission grants for emergency relief including food and medicines for the poor and needy.
- bonus to farmers to incentivise staggered/ delayed procurement of wheat.
- quicker movement of food grains lying in FCI godowns in Punjab, along with waiver of three months’ interest on crop loans and deferment of recovery of crops loans by commercial banks.
Captain Amarinder also asked for a one-time increase in borrowing limit from 3 per cent to 4 per cent of State’s GDP by amending the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Amendment Act (FRBM Act), 2003.Punjab Government Statement
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said the lockdown in his state will be extended till April 30. The lockdown has helped contain the spread of coronovirus and “there is no other better solution than this,” he said, according to a report by news agency PTI.
He suggested that a task force with the Prime Minister as chairman and cabinet ministers as members be set up to craft an action plan on helping farmers and the economy. He also recommended the reserve Bank of India consider quantative easing, PTI reported.
Among the other recommendations he made, are:
- the food processing industry should be allowed to function to ensure that farmers are not put to losses and that there was no difficulty in essential commodities supply.
- three months ration should be given to people and the depots should be filled with newly procured agricultural commodities during the current season.
- bring a policy by which farmers would pay half the wages for labourers and the other half would be from MNREGA funds.
Rao also called for a relaxation of state borrowing limit.
Increase FBRM from 3 percent to 5 percent. The Centre should take the initiative to postpone for six months, the monthly interest paid by states on debts from the centre.Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (PTI report)
West Bengal will also enfocre a lockdown till April 30, said Derek O’Brien, member of parliament from the All India Trinamool Congress, the party that governs the state.
O’Brien said schools, colleges and universities will remain closed till June 10. Farming will be allowed in the state but in fewer numbers. In tea gardens, 25 percent workers will be permitted to work.
Rapid antibody testing will begin in 4-5 days, he said on social media, adding that West Bengal has asked for 50,000 such kits from the centre
O’Brien also made a pitch for GST compensation dues owed by the central government to states. West Bengal is owed Rs 2,393 crore for the period of December 2019 to March 2020, he said. Altogether, states are owed over Rs 30,000 crore BloombergQuint has reported.
He also pointed out that while contribution to the newly created PM-Cares Fund have been permitted under Corporate Social Responsibility Rules, the same has not been extended to long standing relief funds such as Chief Minister and State Relief funds.