Coronavirus: Red zones could remain locked down after May 17Last updated on May 12, 2020, 12:58 pm
India's red zones will remain locked down after May 17, hinted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a marathon meeting with all the Chief Ministers yesterday.
The video-conference that lasted for nearly six hours, with half an hour break, was called to discuss the way forward in the coronavirus battle.
Since March 25, Indians are under a lockdown, as a result of which the economy has suffered.
The platform was open for all CMs to raise concerns
Yesterday's was PM Modi's fifth such interaction with CMs. Unlike the previous meetings when a few CMs were allowed to voice their concerns, this one was open for all.
He addressed the issue of loosening up restrictions that drew people to the streets saying everyone wants to go home during distressing times.
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cornered Centre over "needless politics".
Focus on gradually increasing public activity, reducing transmission
Notably, PM Modi told CMs that operating procedures are known to every official, right up to the district level.
"We have a twofold challenge - to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually while adhering to all the guidelines," he said while asking CMs to ensure the disease doesn't spread in rural areas.
Lockdown must be restricted to worst-hit areas only, suggested states
Several states wanted the restrictions to stay but suggested placing curbs only on the areas worst-hit by the virus.
They opined that the demarcation of red, orange, and green zones, should be done at the local level.
The Centre's earlier method of labeling entire districts as red zones failed to work well on the ground.
States were asked to send suggestions by May 15.
Captain Amarinder and Khattar agreed on red zones labeling
States like Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana, and West Bengal, all run by non-BJP leaders, supported an extension.
Meanwhile, Punjab's Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh's suggestion about naming zones locally was supported by his Haryana counterpart, Manohar Lal Khattar.
Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal pointed out that district-wise labeling was impractical, while Karnataka's BS Yediyurappa said commercial activities, including public transport, must be allowed in non-containment zones.
UP will go by the decision taken by PM: Reports
Reportedly, Uttar Pradesh said it will go with the Centre's decision.
A source told IE, "Several CMs made the point that as people implementing the measures on the ground, states are more attuned to the actual situation and thus while it is alright for the Centre to share the broad criteria for the classification of districts, the actual categorization should be left to them."
Nitish Kumar unhappy with easing of travel restrictions
Separately, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu, were worried about traveling relaxations.
Dubbing the decision to start limited trains a "mistake", Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said he should have been consulted as "former Railways minister".
On migrant laborers' transit, PM Modi said the movement should be "expedited" within 10 days.
Yesterday, Railways announced Shramik special trains will run on full capacity.
As India's cases soar, lockdown won't be abolished completely
Almost all states demanded a financial package to help the troubled economy, with some asking Centre to clear the Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation.
With over 70,000 cases, India now has to tread cautiously, hence, it is unlikely that lockdown will be junked completely.
PM Modi noted until a vaccine is found, social distancing will remain our biggest weapon against the pandemic.
World has fundamentally changed after COVID-19: PM Modi
"We must understand that the world has fundamentally changed post-COVID-19. Now the world will be Pre-Corona, Post-Corona just like the case of the World Wars. And this would entail significant changes in how we function," PM Modi said according to the statement.