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Covid-19: PM Modi holds meeting with Chief Ministers

PTI New Delhi | Updated on April 11, 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Delhi, Punjab CM's suggest extension of nationwide lockdown till April 30

As India battles the Covid-19 crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held a video conference with chief ministers primarily to take their feedback on whether the 21-nation-wide lockdown be extended beyond April 14 to stem the tide of the infections.

The initial visuals of the meeting showed Modi wearing a white mask during the interaction which was among others attended by chief ministers -- Amrinder Singh (Punjab), Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Uddhav Thackeray (Maharashtra), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Manohar Lal (Haryana), K Chandrashekhar Rao (Telangana) and Nitish kumar (Bihar).

The Central Government is understood to have also obtained views on the issue from all the relevant agencies and stakeholders involved in the efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The video conference, which began at 11 am, comes amidst indications that the Central Government may extend the nationwide lockdown with some possible relaxations even as Punjab and Odisha have already announced extending the lockdown beyond April 14 when the current spell of 21-day shutdown across the country ends on Tuesday.

The Union Home Ministry has sought views of State governments on various aspects, including whether more categories of people and services need to be exempted. In the current lockdown only essential services are exempted.

This is for the second time the Prime Minister is interacting with the Chief Ministers via video link after the lockdown was imposed.

During his April 2 interaction with the Chief Ministers, PM Modi had pitched for a “staggered” exit from the ongoing lockdown.

A tally of numbers reported by various states as on Thursday at 9.30pm showed a total of 7,510 having been affected by the virus nationwide so far with at least 251 deaths. More than 700 have been cured and discharged. However, the last update from the Union Health Ministry put the number of confirmed infections at 7,447 and the death toll at 239.

Addressing floor leaders of various parties who have representation in Parliament, Modi had on Wednesday made it clear that the lockdown cannot be lifted in one go, asserting that the priority of his government is to “save each and every life“.

According to an official statement after the Wednesday interaction, the prime minister told these leaders that states, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

Before the lockdown was announced on March 24, the Prime Minister had interacted with the chief ministers on March 20 to discuss ways and means to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Delhi CM suggestions extension of lockdown till April 30

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday suggested that the nationwide lockdown should be extended till April 30.

They said Kejriwal was of the view that the ongoing 21-day lockdown, which is scheduled to end on April 14, should be extended to the whole of India and not only in Delhi.

“Extending the lockdown in Delhi only will not serve any purpose,” sources quoted Kejriwal.

"An extension by at least a fortnight"

The national lockdown should be extended by at least a fortnight, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh suggested.

Singh also suggested a slew of health and relief measures for the people in the state’s Covid-19 battle.

In addition, the Chief Minister also asked for special concessions for the industrial and agricultural sectors on an urgent basis.

Singh said there was a huge uncertainty about the incidence rate of the disease and that the nation was in for a long fight. Given the trend in China and several European countries, it was necessary to continue the lockdown, he said.

The Chief Minister informed the meeting that the Punjab government had already decided to go for curfew or complete lockdown till May 1, with all educational institutions to be closed till June 30.

State board examinations have also been deferred till further orders, he said.

Published on April 11, 2020

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