AGENCIES, New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped a broad hint on Wednesday that by all accounts, it will not be possible to end the lockdown on April 14 amid a spurt in coronavirus cases in the country. In a meeting with leaders of all parties, he said he would consult with chief ministers but it looked unlikely that the lockdown could end anytime soon.
The government will take a final call on extending the lockdown after Modi’s second meeting with chief ministers via video conference on Saturday. The Prime Minister will reportedly discuss with the CMs a way forward after April 14, following up on the last meeting, in which he had asked for their suggestions on lifting the lockdown in a staggered manner.
The government is considering requests of several states to continue the lockdown, sources say.
The government, it seems, is in favour of removing the restrictions in a graded manner to ensure that the economy and basic sectors restart. While more and more states have asked for an extension of the lockdown, given the spurt in COVID-19 cases, there is massive concern over job losses and the need to restart the economy.
Officials have pointed out that before the formal announcement of lockdown by Modi on March 24, some states had already imposed restrictions and put out warnings on social distancing.
Schools and colleges are unlikely to open next week. A Group of Ministers that met on Tuesday recommended that all educational institutions stay closed for another four weeks. It also suggested continuing the ban on religious gathering and meetings.
The ministers reportedly recommended that states can allow harvesting of crops across the country. Trains, buses and Metros may stay shut. Air travel is likely to resume in phases.
Meanwhile, PM Modi today interacted with floor leaders of political parties in Parliament, via video conference.
The meeting via video conferencing today was also attended by Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. PIB had released a press statement where Prime Minister said that the entire world is currently facing the grave challenge of COVID-19, adding that the present situation is an epoch changing event in mankind’s history and we must evolve to counter its impact. He praised the efforts of state governments working together with the Centre in this fight against the pandemic. He said that the country has witnessed constructive and positive politics through the coming together of all sections of polity to present a united front in this battle. He also praised the sense of belonging, discipline, dedication and commitment with which each and every citizen is contributing in this endeavour, be it in following social distancing, Janta Curfew or the lockdown.
“The situation in the country is akin to a ‘social emergency’; it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister also underlined the impact of the emerging situation, as witnessed in the resource constraints. Yet, India has been among the few nations to control the pace of spread of the virus till now. He also warned that the situation keeps changing continuously and one needs to maintain vigil at all times.
He underlined that the situation in the country is akin to a ‘social emergency’. The country has been forced to take tough decisions, and must continue to remain vigilant. He said that several state governments, district administrations and experts have asked for extension of the phase of lockdown.
PM Modi noted that in these changing circumstances, the country should simultaneously try to bring about a change in its work culture and working style. He said that the priority of the government is saving each and every life. He added that the country is facing serious economic challenges as a result of COVID-19, and the government is committed to overcoming them.