Updated: April 14, 2020 7:23:58 am
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Maharashtra may allow industries to restart in many areas, except in the Mumbai metro region and Pune. Odisha will reopen economic activities linked to agriculture and fisheries. And in Haryana, officials will ask traders and industrialists to “be prepared for a graded exit, at least in certain areas”.
Odisha and Maharashtra have extended the coronavirus curbs till the month-end, while Haryana is looking to take a cue from the Prime Minister’s address to the nation Tuesday, the last day of a three-week national lockdown. But the three states are already working on a roadmap to revive economic activity in a phased manner — while adhering to social distancing norms.
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In Maharashtra, which has reported 1,985 cases and 149 deaths, Industries Minister Subhash Desai asked department officials to prepare a proposal, with officials indicating that industrial units would be allowed to restart if they house workers on the premises or in the vicinity.
Desai said officials will prepare the proposal excluding “the areas of Mumbai and Pune which have the highest number of corona-positive cases… for allowing industries to start operations with some restrictions in the rest of the districts”.
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The Industries department will give priority to food processing units so that farmers can sell their produce. Government sources said all essential and non-essential industries may be allowed to operate with restrictions.
“The government is looking at districts with zero cases, or those that have one case, for allowing resumption of industrial operations. In districts that have positive cases within municipal limits, we plan to lock down that area and allow industrial operations in the rest of the district,” said an official.
In Chandigarh, a senior Haryana official told The Indian Express that “some relaxations in the ongoing lockdown may be allowed in at least 10 out of 22 districts”. The official said that Rewari and Rohtak are among the districts that would fall in the green zone, and others such as Hisar and Kurukshetra may be added later if no fresh case is reported.
In a videoconference, Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora told Additional Chief Secretaries deployed in districts to hold meetings with traders, factory owners, industrialists and voluntary organisations to ensure that there is no chaos and social distancing is maintained while “opening economic activity”.
Sources said the Chief Secretary asked officers to “identify trades other than confectionary shops” that can be opened, and arrange for books to be provided to children at their doorsteps. Arora also said that a “weekly roster of grocery shops, including timings, should be prepared so that each can be opened in a systematic manner”.
The state government is also likely to begin the auction and allotment of liquor vends later this week. And, officials have been asked to ensure that operators of fair price shops and other establishments, when opened, should keep their workforce inside their premises.
Sources said Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) T V S N Prasad suggested that to avoid overcrowding in banks, an odd-even system based on the last digit of account numbers could be followed for entry. Other suggestions include an SMS-based system to fix appointments for account-holders.
Odisha Special Relief Commissioner P K Jena said the “second phase of the lockdown, from April 15-30, will see some changes in the nature of restrictions”. These restrictions are expected to resume livelihood activities for around 68 lakh agricultural workers of 1.62 crore workers in the unorganised sector, which accounts for over 90 per cent of the total workforce.
“Activities in the agriculture and horticulture sector, such as ploughing, sowing, applying fertilisers, irrigation and planting along with harvesting, threshing and packing, will be allowed. Transport of seeds, and their distribution, storage, certification, testing and grading will be allowed. All agriculture equipment can be moved and procurement agencies… will begin their work,” Jena said.
“Fruits, vegetables and flowers can be directly procured from farmers. Repairing of agricultural equipment will be allowed, and fertilisers, pesticides made available… related transportation will be opened along with cold storages. Labs testing seeds, soil and fertilizers will be open. Water harvesting structures can be done. Crop cutting experiments can be carried out,” he said.
Kharif loan-related activities will be resumed by banks, he said, adding that all transport related to agriculture activities will be allowed. “Fishing and animal husbandry will also resume in all capacities,” he said.
According to the official, job schemes such as MGNREGS and asset creation under PMAY, Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana, and toilets under Swacch Bharat. as well as water infrastructure-related activities will not be stopped.
“Home delivery of all goods through e-platforms can be done,” he said. But while people can pre-order in restaurants and opt for take-out or home delivery, they will not be allowed to sit inside restaurants.
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