By The Statesman/ANN
Speaking at the video conference, PM Modi said that the focus should be on “jaan bhi, jahaan bhi” (if there’s life, there’s everything) and it is essential for “India’s bright future, and prosperous and healthy India”.
“While announcing the lockdown, I had said ‘jaan hai to jahan hai’… Most people in the country understood it and discharged their responsibilities by remaining indoors. And now it is imperative to focus on both aspects, ‘Jaan Bhi Jahan Bhi’, for India’s bright future, and prosperous and healthy India,” the Prime Minister told the head of the states.
“When every citizen of India worries about their own life and world and decides to abide by the rules set by the government, follow their duties, then it will strengthen our fight against coronavirus,” he said.
According to government sources, the Centre is considering requests by the states to extend the COVID-19 lockdown.
Talking about the exit plan from lockdown in his interaction with chief ministers of states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that there seems to be a consensus amongst the states on extension of lockdown by another two weeks, the Press Information Bureau said in a statement. According to the statement, PM Modi also said that the coming 3-4 weeks are critical for determining the impact of the steps taken till now to contain the virus.
The Prime Minister also suggested specific measures for agriculture and allied sector including modification of APMC laws to facilitate sale of farm produce while assuring states that the country has adequate supplies of essential medicines. He also gave a stern message against black marketing and hoarding.
Several states including Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab have pitched for an extension of the lockdown at least till April 30.
Soon after the meeting, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the Prime Minister has “taken the correct decision” to extend lockdown.
“Today, India’s position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is important to extend it,” he added.
Kejriwal, while urging the PM for an extension, had said the decision should be taken at the national level as a state-level decision might “not be much effective.”
He added that even if the lockdown is eased, “the transportation should not be opened including movement by road, rail or air.”
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, speaking to ANI, said he has recommended to give permission to carry out economic activities within the states while continue the ban on inter-state road, air and rail facilities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, speaking to reporters after the video conference. said PM Modi has called for “no compromise” on lockdown and added that the states have received suggestions for extending it for next 15 days.
He added that the PM has informed that in the coming days, the Government will announce guidelines for next 15 days.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan opposed lockdown extension in the meeting with the Prime Minister, becoming the first CM to do so.
According to reports, he updated PM Modi on the various measures taken by his state including increasing of Coronavirus testing capacity, provision of PPEs and 23 hospitals providing treatments to COVID-19 patients.
Odisha, Punjab, Maharashtra and West Bengal have already announced an extension of the lockdown.
The meeting between the CMs and the Prime Minister mainly focused on exit strategy and discussions on lockdown extension in the country as the nationwide restrictions are set to end on April 14.
The Prime Minister, for the first time, was seen sporting a mask in a meeting and so were some chief ministers.
PM Modi, at the meeting, assured the chief ministers that he is open to suggestions.
“I am available 24×7. Any chief minister can speak to me and give suggestions on COVID-19 anytime. We should stand together shoulder-to-shoulder,” PM Modi said.
He said that states and the Centre needs to work together to win the battle against the deadly virus.
“If we follow a common strategy we can defeat coronavirus and the losses that we are incurring due to this crisis,” he added.
As of Saturday, India’s total number of Coronavirus cases has risen to 7447 with 239 fatalities. The country marked its sharpest rise with 40 deaths and 1035 new cases of infection in the last 24 hours.