At meeting with PM, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel calls for continuing ban on road, rail, air
Chhattisgarh’s chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Saturday suggested extending the restrictions on inter-state road, air and railway traffic to curb the spread of Covid-19 and said states should be allowed to carry out economic activities during the lockdown period.
Bhupesh Baghel also demanded an early economic package from the Centre to boost the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector during the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his office said in a statement.
Baghel was among the chief ministers who attended Prime Minister Modi’s video conference to discuss whether to extend the 21-day country-wide lockdown beyond next week.
“The MSME sector in the state is constantly demanding an economic package. Due to the long period of lockdown, the existence of this important sector which provides maximum employment to the people has been endangered,” the chief minister pointed out.
The Chhattisgarh chief minister also said that given the number of coronavirus-infected people and their status, states should get to decide whether economic activities should be relaxed or not.
“Given the current situation, we will definitely face an economic crisis. Action plan has to be prepared as per requirement, via which we will be able to revive our economy,” Baghel said during the video conference.
Chattisgarh is among the very few states which have not reported any Covid-19 related deaths and has 18 people who have been infected with the virus. Of these, 10 have been cured and the condition of the remaining eight patients is stable.
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The chief minister said Chhattisgarh was the first state in the nation to implement a lockdown by March 31. “There is a better situation here due to the complete lockdown,” he said.
To further his point, Baghel said only five out of the 28 districts in the state have reported cases of the coronavirus disease. So far, 3473 samples have been taken in the state, or an average of 135 per day, which he said needs to be ramped up.
“Due to less testing, it cannot be said with certainty whether the condition of Covid-19 virus is actually under control or not. There is a need to take 3000 to 5000 samples daily. A request has also been made earlier in this regard,” Baghel said.
Baghel also urged the Prime Minister that the number of personal protection equipment (PPE) kits should be increased. The chief minister said that due to a lack of clear instructions in the guidelines set by the central government for buying test kits, there is a situation of doubt.
He said that thousands of people, trapped and quarantined on the borders of the state, are facing trouble. “There are also many travellers and families who want to return back to their homes. Guidelines are expected in this regard,” he said.
He also listed what his government was doing for the poor families in the state and said they should be allowed to carry on with procurement and sale of forest produce.
Punjab and Delhi were among the states which have recommended an extension of the national lockdown by at least a fortnight as the number of Covid-19 cases in India rose to 7447 and deaths to 239.
Mumbai and Delhi have reported most of these cases and experts have warned that once the lockdown is lifted and people are allowed to get out of home freely, it could lead to a spike in the infections.
Odisha and Punjab have already decided to extend the lockdown until April end.