Govt likely to extend lockdown beyond Apr 14
STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with chief ministers of all states on April 11 to discuss various issues related to the coronavirus outbreak including the lockdown, official sources said on Wednesday.
A number of state governments as well as experts have been requesting the central government to extend the 21-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown that was imposed from March 25.
Sources in the government have said that the Centre is going through the requests from states and experts on extending the lockdown.
Situation akin to ‘social emergency’: Modi
New Delhi: The situation in the country is akin to a “social emergency” and it has necessitated tough decisions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told political leaders on the COVID-19 outbreak as he asserted that the priority of his government is to “save each and every life”.
Interacting with floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament via video conferencing on Wednesday, the prime minister said, “We must continue to remain vigilant.”
“The situation in the country is akin to a social emergency…it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant,” Modi told the leaders, according to an official statement.
States, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the ongoing lockdown beyond April 14 to contain the spread of the virus, the prime minister said.
Leaders provided feedback, suggested policy measures, discussed the 21-day lockdown and the way forward, according to the statement.
This is for the second time the prime minister will interact with the chief ministers via video link after the lockdown was imposed.
During an interaction with floor leaders of various political parties, who have representation in Parliament, on Wednesday, Modi said the situation in the country is akin to a ‘social emergency’ which has necessitated tough decisions.
According to an official statement, he said states, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
During his April 2 interaction with chief ministers, Modi had pitched for a “staggered” exit from the ongoing lockdown.
Before the lockdown was announced on March 24, the prime minister had interacted with the chief ministers on March 20 to discuss means to check the spread of the deadly virus.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad has claimed that the government is likely to extend the ongoing countrywide lockdown beyond April 14 to combat the coronavirus
He said the prime minister told the meeting of the opposition party leaders that he has received several requests for extension of the lockdown to contain COVID-19, but will take a call on it only after consulting experts and the chief ministers of various states.
Azad said around 80 per cent of the leaders from various political parties, who interacted with the prime minister through video-conferencing, favoured extending the lockdown.
“It is likely that the government may extend the lockdown,” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told PTI after the meeting.
He said his party put forth certain suggestions with regard to the crisis in the farming sector.
“The prime minister told the all-party meeting that he is happy that political parties have risen above politics and come together in national interest in this hour of crisis,” Azad said.
He added that Modi told the meeting that he will try and implement the suggestions put forth by various leaders.
“The prime minister said he is receiving requests for extending the lockdown, but he will talk to chief ministers and experts before taking any decision in the best interest of the nation,” the Congress leader said.
Azad suggested to the prime minister to set up a task force comprising Union ministers and chief ministers of various states to recommend the way forward and help people tide over the crisis.
He also suggested setting up of a multi-party working group to help the government tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
Azad said the Congress has called for a special financial package for the states most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Chowdhury said the Congress has suggested to the prime minister that farmers may be exempted from the 21-day lockdown for the harvesting of rabi crops. The party has also demanded that all taxes on fertilisers be withdrawn.
Chowdhury said his party has suggested that those enrolled under the rural job scheme MGNREGA be given priority while carrying out harvesting of the standing crop.
Azad and Chowdhury were the Congress representatives at the meeting of the floor leaders of various parties with the prime minister.