CMs call for extension of curbs in Covid-19 hotspot districts
The states have urged the Centre to ensure that the new guidelines that will come in after the current lockdown ends on May 3, provide for much more economic activity in non-Covid districts, termed green zones, and stricter norms for Covid hot spots, described as red zones.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 07:58 IST
Most state governments recommended an extension of the lockdown in Covid-19 hot spots, a relaxation of rules to bring back stranded workers, and financial help to cope with a debilitating economic crisis in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
The states have urged the Centre to ensure that the new guidelines that will come in after the current lockdown ends on May 3, provide for much more economic activity in non-Covid districts, termed green zones, and stricter norms for Covid hot spots, described as red zones. The Centre is expected to take a call on the lockdown, scheduled to be in pace till May 3, in the next few days after taking into consideration views of different empowered groups and the key Central ministries. On Monday it received feedback from the states. Here is what some of the key states suggested.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar told the PM that it will not be possible to bring back anybody, including students from places such as Kota in Rajasthan and migrant workers stranded elsewhere, till the Central government amended or issued fresh directive in this regard. Bihar is one of the few state to follow the rules. Others, such as Uttar Pradesh have gone ahead and bussed students out of Kota. Kumar reiterated his earlier stand that a move to transfer people from one place to other defeated the very spirit of implementing a lockdown even as the opposition accused him of failing to bring back the stranded students. On the lockdown, he said Bihar will comply with Centre’s decisions.
Kumar said the state government has received over one lakh phone calls and messages from migrant workers and efforts were being made to “redress their problems”. “7.5 million families have been screened,” the CM said, while giving details of the efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.
Chief minister, Naveen Patnaik sought a safe passage for migrant workers from the state stuck in other states and requested other states to test the migrants for Covid-19 and only send back workers who test negative. Around five lakh workers from Odisha are stranded in different states. “During today’s meeting we stressed on the safe passage of Odia migrants stuck in other states,” said Odisha health minister Naba Das.
Chief minister Amarinder Singh wrote to home minister Amit Shah, asking for the opening of all small shops, businesses and industries in all areas except the containment zones. In a letter to Shah, in response to the Centre’s request for a written submission of issues faced by the state, the CM highlighted the issues that need the urgent attention of the Centre. He also sought special insurance cover for police personnel and sanitary workers, universal basic income of Rs 6,000 per month to industrial and migrant workers and 15 days’ wages as unemployment allowance to MGNREGA workers for the next three months.
CM ML Khattar asked the Central government to provide clarity on the schedules of various entrance examinations like JEE and NEET for medical and engineering colleges as well as NDA exam for the armed forces. Speaking at a meeting with the PM, Khattar said a large number of students preparing for the competitive exams were anxious because of ambiguity over the exam schedules.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is expected to raise the issue of financial assistance from the Centre, the shortage in supply of the PPE kits and issue of stranded workers in a letter to home minister Amit Shah, according to Maharashtra government officials. Maharashtra wants only partial lifting of lockdown from non-Covid districts. The state will announce its decision later this week, the officials said.
Chief secretary Tom Jose attended the meeting. In his letter, CM Pinarayi Vijayan sought staggered removal of the lockdown and an exclusive Covid-19 financial package. Kerala has asked the Centre to expedite the return of 1.8 million migrants from the state from countries in West Asia. Kerala has also asked the Centre to send back around 3 lakh migrant workers housed in 10,000 camps to their respective states.
Uttar Pradesh has not made any submission to the Centre. “We keep on exchanging views and hold consultations with the Union government. But chief minister Yogi Adityanath did not make any demand at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference with chief ministers,” said chief secretary RK Tiwari.
Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, in the past week, has demanded that states should be allowed to decide on which economic activities should be allowed . He also wanted a scheme for giving food grains in place of money for work done under MGNREGA. He has also sought financial assistance worth Rs 30,000 crore.
Chief minister, Hemant Soren, has sought a relaxation of the interstate travel ban so that arrangements can be made to bring back students and migrant workers stuck in other states. Over 9 lakh migrant workers from Jharkhand are stuck in other states. Soren said the state government will explore legal options if the Centre fails to provide financial assistance to the state to deal with the pandemic.
Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga said the state’s only Covid-19 patient was recovering slowly. “Since we are surrounded by Myanmar, Bangladesh and neighbouring states, which also have Covid-19 patients, we can’t be complacent,” he said, adding that the state will relax the lockdown slightly after May 3 and allow some economic activity slowly.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said he proposed an extension of the lockdown beyond May 3. “We have mooted to continue with the lockdown post May 3rd with relaxation on activities in green zones or non-Covid affected districts in Meghalaya,” Sangma tweeted after the meeting. Meghalaya has recorded 12 Covid-19 positive cases, of which one has died. All the cases are from the state capital, Shillong.