As the nation approached the end of the second leg of the extended lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with chief ministers on Monday to discuss the emerging situation and plan ahead for tackling the Covid19 pandemic. In this interaction, it was the turn of nine states to speak and the majority of them were in favour of lockdown extension but with some relaxation to start the economic activity. The Kerala Chief Minister was not present in the meeting but he was represented by his Chief Secretary. According to sources, the dominant view among the CMs was that the lockdown should continue, albeit with some concession in the green zone.
According to Manipur CM N. Biren Singh, the need of the hour is the collective fight against coronavirus and possible relaxation in the green zone and other non-affected districts. The Odisha Health Minister was of the view that the lockdown should be extended for one more month. “Let it be for one more month and then we will assess,” he said. Goa CM Pramod Sawant, while agreeing for the extension of the lockdown, said that there should be relaxation for economic activities within the states. He, however, added that the state borders should be sealed. “The Covid-related lockdown, which is scheduled to end on May 3, should be extended further, with relaxations for economic activities within the state but the borders should be sealed,” he emphasised. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot said that the lockdown shouldn’t be lifted at one go and it should be left to the state to implement it locally.
He also raised the issue of giving economic package to industries and migrant laborers of Rajasthan who were stuck in other states. The Chhattisgarh Health Minister said that the crux of Monday’s video Conference was to formulate a strategy for the pandemic as there could be another spike in the month of June and July. Puducherry CM Narayanswamy said that though most of the CM were in favour of the lockdown to continue, some of them wanted economic activities to start. So, the overall mood of the video-conference was that lockdown should continue with precaution. Prime Minister Modi said that the lockdown has yielded positive results as the country has saved thousands of lives in the past one-anda-half months. He, however, forewarned that the danger of the virus is far from over and constant vigilance is of paramount importance. He added that the country has seen two lockdowns till now, both different in certain aspects, and now we have to think of the way ahead.
The PM said that we have to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against Covid-19. He said that as per experts, the impact of coronavirus will remain visible in the coming months. Reiterating the mantra of “do gaz doori”, he said that masks and face covers should become a part of our lives in the days ahead. Modi also emphasised the importance of the usage of technology as much as possible, besides the need to embrace reform measures. He spoke about the significance of ensuring that more people download the Aarogya Setu app to bolster the efforts of the country in the battle against Covid-19. He said, “We have to be brave and bring in reforms that touch the lives of common citizens.” The Prime Minister highlighted the importance for states to enforce guidelines strictly in the hotspots, i.e. the red zone areas. He stated that the efforts of the states should be directed towards converting the red zones into orange and thereafter to green zones. Home Minister Amit Shah, who was also present there, spoke about how the states need to enforce the guidelines strictly so that maximum lives could be saved.