NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated steps to open the economy would continue to be pursued in line with relaxations announced so far even as efforts to reduce incidence of Covid-19 continue apace and social distancing norms are followed.
Modi hinted that a more graded relaxation of the lockdown could be on its way after May 17, during an interaction with chief ministers on Monday. “I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the second phase and, similarly, the measures needed in the third phase are not needed in the fourth,” an official release quoted the PM as saying.
“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.
The long interaction, where all the CMs spoke, saw some in favour of continuing with the lockdown beyond May 17. Given the focus on containment, the lockdown may not be called off even as more easing of curbs, particularly in ‘green zones’, is on the anvil.
While Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee complained about the Centre’s “unilateral” actions, she like other CMs such as Uddhav Thackeray and Nitish Kumar favoured extension of the lockdown. Kumar expressed reservations on resumption of train services.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said states should be allowed to decide on public transport while Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik suggested there should be broad lockdown principles. Thackeray expressed concern over reports of a second wave of infection in China.
Focus now should be to stop Covid from spreading to rural areas: PM
Sources said the Prime Minister was very conscious about the need to continue all efforts to contain the disease so that gains of the lockdown were not lost and also referred indirectly to the need to concentrate on problematic areas.
“We now have a reasonably clear indication as to the geographical spread of the pandemic in India, including worst affected areas. Moreover, over the past few weeks, officials have understood operating procedures in a time such as this, right up to the district level,” Modi said, suggesting that the disease tracking mechanism was gaining experience and becoming more effective.
The PM further said now the effort should be to stop the spread of Covid-19 to rural areas. The comment came in the context of rural areas having remained relatively free of infections.
He said one must understand that the world had fundamentally changed post Covid-19. “Now, the world will be pre-corona, post-corona just like the case of the world wars,” he added. PM Modi said the new way of life would be on the principle of “jaan se lekar jag tak”, from an individual to the whole of humanity.