NEW DELHI: PM Narendra Modi will have a lengthy, open-ended discussion, which may run into several hours on Monday, with chief ministers on the next steps of a graded exit from the lockdown.
The talks will take note of the continued rise in Covid-19 cases, particularly in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, while considering measures to increase the pace of economic activities. The ongoing return of migrant workers to their home states and problems this may cause in restarting the economy is also likely to be discussed.
Unlike in the previous interactions with the CMs, all those who participate on Monday will speak. The PM is understood to be keen to receive feedback on easing of curbs post-May 4 and whether the CMs want the lockdown to continue within the more relaxed parameters currently in force.
On Sunday, several state chief secretaries told Union Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba that while measures to contain the pandemic were needed, it was necessary for economic activities to be stepped up in a calibrated manner. The mood in the Union government remains cautious. It is felt gains of the lockdown should not be put at risk.
‘PM may focus on worst-hit Maharashtra, Gujarat’
The return of migrants to the hinterland will need to be monitored for any spread of the disease, the government feels. Going forward, the regime of red, orange and green zones is likely to continue for some time even if activities and movement within a state become freer and governments get more leeway on framing rules.
PM Narendra Modi’s focus, said sources, will also be on worst affected states like Maharashtra and Gujarat. On Sunday, Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba told state chief secretaries that more than 350 Shramik Special trains had been run by railways so far to carry 3.5 lakh migrant workers home. He emphasised movement of doctors, nurses and paramedics should be totally unhindered and all steps taken to facilitate and protect corona warriors.
While several restrictions have been lifted based on the rate of infection in various parts of the country, the PM’s interaction with CMs is likely to focus on reviving economic activities only in a graded manner. While social distancing has been prescribed with limitations on staff strength, businesses have pointed out various hurdles in their resuming operations, including the large exodus of migrant labour from cities to their villages in states like Odisha, UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.