Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held a video-conference with several Chief Ministers to decide the way ahead as the 21-day lockdown ends on Tuesday. A look at what some state heads told the Prime Minister during the discussion:
TAMIL NADU: Give us rapid test kits
In the video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami demanded rapid test kits from the Centre. “Testing of the contacts has to be done immediately, for which I require rapid test kits,” he told Modi, according to a government note. Palaniswami informed Modi that he had written to the Union Health Minister seeking two lakh test kits.
The state had placed orders for 4 lakh antibody-based rapid kits from China and, in addition, has sought a share from the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) kitty.
JHARKHAND: It’s catch 22 for us
It’s catch-22 for the state. “Lockdown khulega toh musibat hai, nahi khuleha toh musibat (It’s a problem if lockdown is lifted, and if it not, it is still a problem), Chief Minister Hemant Soren told Modi. “A substantial workforce in the unorganised sector is going jobless in Jharkhand due to the lockdown, and more than 5 lakh labourers will return from various states with more COVID-19 cases once the lockdown is lifted,” he said.
He also flagged the steep difference between a migrant labourer’s daily wage outside the state (Rs 500) and a day’s wage under MGNREGA fixed at just over Rs 200. “This is the lowest in the country,” Soren said. He apprised Modi that money due from PSUs such as SAIL and CCL is needed, as revenue source has dried up. He left it to the discretion of the Centre to decide on the lockdown.
MANIPUR: Stop racial attack
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh highlighted racial attacks on people from the Northeast in many parts of the country amid the coronavirus outbreak. He requested the Prime Minister to direct state authorities to do the needful to stop harassment of people from the region. An official statement said Biren Singh urged Modi to help bring back around 30,000 people from Manipur stuck in different parts of the country due to the lockdown.
TELANGANA: Lockdown should continue
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao urged the Prime Minister to extend the covid-19 lockdown for another two weeks. The state extended the lockdown till April 30. During the lockdown period, the food processing industry should be allowed to function to ensure that farmers don’t suffer loss and supply of essential commodities is not hit, he told Modi. “Lockdown has helped in containing the spread of Corona to a great extent. It is better to extend the lockdown for two more weeks. There is no other better solution than this,” he suggested.
PUNJAB: Extend it, intensive farmer
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh recommended extension of the national lockdown by at least a fortnight as India cannot afford to take chances, given the trend in China and several European countries. Amarinder sought a Special Risk Insurance for government employees working on the frontline.
He said the Centre should hasten the supply of 10 lakh testing kits sought from ICMR, allot Rs 500 crore to quickly upgrade government hospitals in Punjab and approve an Advanced Centre for Virology. Singh urged the Centre to defer recovery on industrial loans for six months. He reiterated the demand to incentivise farmers for staggered procurement of wheat, and called for quicker movement of foodgrain from the Food Corporation of India godowns in the state.
MADHYA PRADESH: No shortage of Money
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan lavished praise on the Prime Minister saying the country will definitely come out of the crisis, thanks to the foresight and determination of the Prime Minister. In the video conference, he said the state was going to add more testing kits. He said Rs 120 crore has been released under Social Security Scheme and National Health Mission. “There is no shortage of money to fight the COVID challenge. Enough money has been deposited in the PM Care fund and CM relief fund,” he told PM.
Rajasthan: plan ‘food for work’ scheme
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot requested the PM to plan a scheme on the lines of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ‘Kaam Ke Badle Anaj Yojana’ or ‘Food for Work’ scheme and emphasised that a collective decision should be taken by the Union government after considering the situation of individual states. Gehlot said that such a scheme was urgently required for providing relief to garbage pickers, pushcart or rickshaw-pullers, nomads and other people whose livelihoods are under threat due to the lockdown.
West Bengal: Attack on federal structure
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she differed with the Prime Minister on multiple points, including the decision to include donations made by companies to PM CARES Fund as expenditure on CSR, a facility not available for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. “We opposed this. I told the Prime Minister that this is an attack on the federal structure of the country,” Banerjee said. She also called for strong monitoring of the international borders. “We don’t want any coronavirus infection through the border.”
Banerjee urged the Centre to create a package of Rs 10 lakh crore for all states. She said, “Countries such as Japan, the US and the UK announced disaster fund more than 10% of the GDP…our government only announced Rs 1.7 lakh crore, which is less than 1% of the GDP. We demanded to increase this fund to 10 lakh crore, which 6% of the GDP.” She said, “The Prime Minister has listened — thanks to him. He said he would take 2-3 days to look into it”.
Banerjee also asked Prime Minister Modi to advise his “leaders and Governor (Jagdeep Dhankar)” not to interfere in the state government’s efforts to contain Covid-19 spread. The Chief Minister stated that a medical board constituted by the state government decides if a death is due to covid-19 or not.
(Inputs From ENS Chennai, Ranchi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Bhopal & Jaipur)
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