On Monday during the fifth video conference with state Chief Ministers, PM Modi delivered a clear message - planning must be done to increase public, economic activities while trying to contain the spread of coronavirus.
PM said, "We have a two-fold challenge -- to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and increase public activity gradually while adhering to all the guidelines," and asked for written suggestions on a roadmap for economic revival from the states by May 15. He also stressed that all efforts should be made to stop the spread of Covid-19 to rural areas.
During the meeting, several CMs pointed out that with the return of migrants, there is a need to implement strict social distancing guidelines, usage of masks, and sanitisation in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the rural areas. Many asked for compulsory quarantine for all those who have returned from abroad.
Several CMs also raised the need to strengthen the medical and health infrastructure in the country and sought support to MSMEs, infrastructure projects, easing of interest rates on loans and assured market access for agricultural produce.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan asked the Central government for permission to make changes to the guidelines relating to lockdown. As new cases in Kerala have decreased significantly, he said that states should be given the freedom to permit the provision of public transport subject to restrictions.
Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar also asked for states to be authorised to take decisions at their own level to resume industrial and economic activities. He also emphasised on opening schools, colleges and educational institutions running professional courses with 50 percent attendance limit to maintain social distancing norms.
K Chandrasekhar Rao, Telangana CM, disagreed on the resumption of passenger train services, as that would lead to a movement of people posing a problem to the testing and quarantining regime. The state recently saw a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, Goa CM Pramod Sawant asked for the lifting of inter-state travel curbs and asked for a revival of tourism and mining industries, since Goa is a green zone.
During the meeting, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot suggested the government to launch an employment guarantee scheme for the urban poor on the lines of the MGNREGA. He also demanded a financial package, as the states' revenue has been adversely hit making it difficult for them to combat the crisis.
Naveen Patnaik, Odisha CM, demanded a national Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to reboot economic activities in the country. "Our production lines are interlinked as also our value addition process cutting across state boundaries," he said. He also suggested, "it is important that we involve Panchayats for a system based response."
Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur favoured extending the lockdown. He also urged PM Modi to make alternative arrangements for the sale of the states main produce, apples. Delhi's Azadpur Mandi is the main place for marketing of the state's apples, but it was recently shut down due to a spurt in virus cases.
Meanwhile, Puducherry CM Narayanasamy and West Bengal CM Banerjee launched a scathing attack on the Centre. Narayanasamy said that Modi was non-committal on financial assistance to states despite them apprising him of the fiscal sufferings. While Banerjee said, “This is not the time to play politics, don’t bulldoze the federal structure.”
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, on Monday, said that he has asked PM Modi to promote Assam to foreign companies for them to set up bases in the state.