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Industrial activities that may be allowed during the lockdown

Districts and states will not be in a position to sustain the expenditure on the stay of migrant labour so they could instead be used for construction activity

Topics
Indian industry | Coronavirus | Lockdown

Sukanya Roy  |  New Delhi 

While a formal announcement was awaited, official sources said the second phase of the is likely to be less comprehensive than the first, and that agriculture, construction, and limited industrial activity would be permitted.

Interacting with chief ministers via videoconferencing in his third such meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at the need to strike a balance between saving lives and reviving economic activity.

According to a government statement, the PM underlined that the motto of the government earlier was “jaan hai to jahaan hai” — or the world exists if there is life.

But it now is “jaan bhi jahaan bhi”, he said. “Jaan bhi and jahan bhi — a future where people care about both the aspects, follow their duties and abide by the directions of the government — will be important for India’s prosperous and healthy future,” the PM said.

Maharashtra CM pointed out the challenges migrant workers were facing as industries did not have the money to provide for their wages and shelter interminably. He sought the Centre’s assistance to facilitate the harvest of crops and grain procurement, relaxing of the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act cap of 3 per cent fiscal deficit to 4-5 per cent, release of MNREGA funds to pay wages to workers, and also their share of GST compensation.

The construction of may be also exempted from the total shutdown. Senior officials said some districts have asked the Centre that areas which are away from the urban centres and where there have been minimal to zero Covid-19 cases may be exempted from the and construction activity of roads should be allowed as it essential for any economy.

It is believed that the Maharashtra government allowed the construction of its marquee project -- Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, an expressway connecting Mumbai and Nagpur. The expressway once constructed would be 701 kilometres long and will include wight lanes – four on each side.

The Ministry of Road Transport and and the Authority of India (NHAI) are also in discussions with various states to evaluate the situation on the ground. According to an official, some states and districts had sought permission to start work where the density of population is low. They had also said the guidelines of social distancing would be followed to commence the projects. It is also learnt that districts and states will not be in a position to sustain the expenditure on the stay of migrant labour so they could instead be used for construction activity.

There were also indications that the could be extended beyond April 30 as well. The PM said at the meeting, “The next 3-4 weeks are critical to determine impact of steps taken till now to curb the spread of the virus.” The (WHO) has warned countries against hastily lifting Covid-related restrictions, and cautioned such a move could lead to “a deadly resurgence".

The PM suggested specific measures for agriculture and allied sector, including the modification of APMC laws to facilitate sale of farm produce. He said India had adequate supplies of essential medicines. He said the crisis was an opportunity to become self-reliant and turn the nation into an economic powerhouse.

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First Published: Sun, April 12 2020. 14:48 IST
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