Reviving economy in Covid-19 fight to top agenda of PM meet
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may meet chief ministers as early as Tuesday, May 12, to discuss the next stage in the exit from the nationwide lockdown enforced to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), government officials familiar with the matter said.
They added that the focus of the meeting will be on a further increase in economic activities and on tackling the pandemic in containment zones.
On Saturday, Cabinet secretary Rajeev Gauba held two back-to-back meetings to identify possible areas that can be opened up after May 17. In one of the meetings, the focus turned to areas that have witnessed a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the past week, a person familiar with the discussion said on condition of anonymity.
According to the government officials cited in the first instance, who asked not to be named, plans are afoot for the PM’s fifth meeting with the CMs since March 20.
The meeting comes ahead of May 17, when the second extension of the lockdown ends, although, with more activities permitted, and people allowed to move around in many parts of the country, this period has been more a graded exit than a continuation of a hard lockdown.
The lockdown, enforced on March 25, was originally supposed to end on April 14. It was then extended to May 3, and then again to May 17.
According to the people familiar with the matter, there will definitely be more concessions in terms of what’s allowed, but that there will likely be no changes in Covid-19 hotspots and containment zones.
A second person familiar with the happenings at Gauba’s meeting described it as a preliminary discussion during which several ideas were tossed around about industries or sectors that can be opened up. “A final decision is expected only next week and after one or two more rounds of meetings,” this person added on condition of anonymity.
“But one thing looks increasingly clear,” said this person. “It will take some time before the rail and aviation sectors can resume operations.”
Apart from the economy and the management of the disease in hot spots, the meeting between Modi and the CMs could also see some discussion on the migrant workers who have returned home, and stranded Indians who are being flown back from many parts of the world.
Modi’s last meeting with CMs—through video conference—was held on April 27. Most of the states expressed their willingness to partially lift the Covid-19 lockdown during that.
Days after the meeting, the government issued federal guidelines allowing the functioning of industries and offices, movement of people, and the opening up of stores selling non-essentials outside the containment zones with an eye on reviving the economy. At the same time, it said the lockdown would run for another two weeks.
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