Decision on lockdown extension in India tomorrow

Chennai/Delhi: The current lockdown, which is to end on 14 April, is likely to be extended, but with a few relaxations, multiple sources say. “While most of the measures that are presently in place will continue, there will be some exemptions. Some sectors will be allowed to function with stringent social distancing rules,” sources say.

It is said that an ’empowered group’ is working on multiple options and a final decision will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after his discussion with Chief Ministers tomorrow.

Already, Modi indicated to legislature party leaders that the lockdown may have to stay in place beyond 14 April given the state of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Modi told the floor leaders of political parties in Parliament that several State governments, district administrations and experts have asked for an extension of the lockdown, likening the situation to a ‘national’ and ‘social emergency.’ The three-week lockdown is scheduled to end on 14 April.

“I have been speaking to Chief Ministers and District Collectors… the common refrain is that it is not easy to lift the lockdown,” the Prime Minister said. “We need to be strict in implementing social distancing norms. So be it lifting or extending the lockdown, the general mood is that it will not be possible to lift the lockdown at once.”

Modi has called another meeting of all Chief Ministers on 11 April for consultations, after which the Centre could take a final decision on the lockdown.”He (Modi) said that the priority of the government is saving each and every life,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a release.

“He added that the country is facing serious economic challenges as a result of Covid-19, and the government is committed to overcoming them,” it said.

The PM also told party leaders that tough measures could be needed in the future. “After the discussion with PM Modi, we got a feeling that lockdown will continue beyond 21 days,” said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha.

More than 80 per cent of the political parties suggested extending the lockdown, said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha.

“PM said that he is getting information from people that they want lockdown to be extended but the final decision will be taken after the meeting with CMs,” Azad said. The PMO said the leaders gave suggestions to the PM on “extending the lockdown and on a phased exit” after it ends.

 

NT Bureau