Strict implementation of lockdown helped Manipur, says CM

Manipur CM N. Biren Singh says lockdown will continue in the areas of Imphal and district headquarters where there are bazars and markets.

N Biren Singh
N Biren Singh

Chief Minister of Manipur N. Biren Singh speaks to NewsX’s Managing Editor on how the state became
coronavirus-free. Excerpts:

Q. What’s the situation in Manipur on coronavirus?

A. As of now, there are no positive cases in Manipur, I thank the people of Manipur and mainly to those
who are on the frontline— the doctors, the nurses and the paramedical staff and the police. Because of
the strict implementation of the lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, we can overcome Covid-19. We have effectively implemented the lockdown steps taken by the state government, and people are very co-operative. Earlier a lady, Ms Bhimi, was cured. She was in the hospital for about 20 days and now she has been cured and sent home. Another one is Mr Abdul; he was at the Nizamuddin Markaz, and got infected there. After 20 days of treatment, he has tested negative. So, as of now, Manipur has
become a corona-free state.

Q. At this point of time, are you then carrying on with the lockdown?

A. Today, we had a cabinet meeting and an order from the Union Home Ministry has already come yesterday for the implementation of lockdown and where the relaxation will be made. So, we, after much deliberation, have decided to continue the lockdown in the main city areas like Imphal and district headquarters where there are bazars and markets. Those places will continue the lockdown. But
in the rural areas mainly for agricultural purposes, for industrial purposes and for the construction of roads back in the urban hill areas—those types of things are going to be relaxed. We are going to open grocery, essential items shops in the towns, including Imphal and other district headquarters and we also started home delivery system from yesterday. The main issue as of now is we cannot totally
relax the lockdown because we have to see the prevailing situation and developments in the neighbouring states as well as the entire nation.

Q: Do you intend to carry on with some random sample testing since you no longer have
positive cases?

A. As of now, we are not on that path. We are checking our entry points and our main concern is our borders with Myanmar, which is a very long border—the border is 390 km but the vulnerable area is about 100 km. We have started temporary fencing in the border area, that’s why we are not immediately lifting the lockdown.

Q. So, you are concerned about the Myanmar border per se. ave you got any reports of
people attempting to cross?

A. Yes, many people were trying to cross the border illegally because there is no permanent fencing. But
now we are keeping a strict vigil and the police and paramilitary forces like Assam Rifles have been posted on the border. We are not allowing anybody to cross the border.

Q. What about the essential commodities, including food supply? Is transportation to your state taking place and if anything is missing?

A. Regarding the transportation of essential commodities we are very much thankful to the Central
government. The medical materials like PPE, hand gloves, sanitisers, etc., have been brought via cargo by the Indian Air Force. Till today, cargo flights have come 5-6 times and enough stock is available. Regarding the foodgrains, the FCI is issuing huge quantities of rice which we are able to distribute to the poor. Under PMKYD we are providing 5kg each to everyone. Those who are not on the list we are processing it from the FCI, being paid by the honourable MLAs from their own funds and is being distributed. Similarly, with card-holders and non-card-holders, we are distributing IPGs. People
are very cooperative and all the government officials are actively working. That is the reason why we
were able to overcome such a situation.

Q. How are you coordinating with neighbouring Chief Ministers regarding movements across the internal borders of India and state borders?

A. That is very important. Today also we discussed in the cabinet meeting where the Home Ministry asked the state government if we wanted to bring back the Manipuri people stranded in the neighbouring states of the Northeast. We agreed and decided to urge the Central government about
those who were in Assam, Tripura and other parts of the Northeastern states. They will be brought back
soon. One request I want to make to the Manipuri people—businessmen, tourists, etc.—stranded in many parts of the country. I am very grateful to all of the Chief Ministers that after the video conference with Honourable Prime Minister which was attended by all the chief ministers, I had requested them to kindly take care of my people in their concerned state. They had a lot of positive news and many people are helping our people in Hyderabad, Delhi, Chandigarh, wherever they are. Similarly, we are doing the same here as well. Many migrant workers are here. Many people from outside the state are living here and we are similarly taking care of them and providing foodgrains and homes to stay. Yesterday, I got a very encouraging video clip from Delhi. A girl who was infected with Covid-19 in Max Hospital, has
now been cured. When she came out of the hospital her relatives gathered around and were applauding her, encouraging her, welcoming her. So, these things are very encouraging in uniting India.