Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday (May 11) chaired a fresh round of consultation with chief ministers on ways to strengthen the COVID-19 containment strategy and stepping up of economic activities in a calibrated manner as the 54-day nationwide lockdown nears an end. The interaction was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan among others.
Here’s what the Chief Ministers told Prime Minister Modi during the meeting:
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked PM Modi to show specific and concrete direction on the ongoing lockdown. A CMO official said Thackeray requested Modi to start local trains in Mumbai for essential services staff working in the city.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee sought a special economic package for the state along with central assistance to bring back all state migrant labourers stranded in various parts of the country. She alleged that Bengal was being targeted politically over COVID-19 and appealed to the PM and all other political parties not to engage in any sort of politics during coronavirus crisis.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said economic activities should be allowed to resume in the national capital barring containment zones.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami came out against resumption of passenger train and air services in the state till May 31 and sought more PCR kits from the Centre to ramp up the ongoing aggressive testing. Palaiswami said the state has also sought nod for additional borrowing of 33 per cent above the permitted level for 2019-20 be allowed for 2020-21 as well and release of pending GST compensation.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh pitched for extension of the lockdown, but with a carefully crafted strategy, backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of the states, to save lives and secure livehoods. He said micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should be allowed to function in red zones with proper safeguards.
Amarinder also demanded an urgent financial assistance to states to meet at least 33 per cent of their committed liabilities, along with revenue grants for three months to meet the shortfall in revenue and fund expenditure on tackling coronavirus.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao urged the PM not to allow resumption of train services to contain the spread of coronavirus. The Chief Minister said the efforts were being made to prepare a vaccine for coronavirus and hoped that the first vaccine will come from India. “Companies in Hyderabad are also working hard. There are chances of first vaccine being developed in Hyderabad. It is likely to be available in July-August. The situation will change with the availability of the vaccine,” he said.
On the issue of migrant workers, KCR said all states should show empathy. He said the migrant workers were desperate to go home to meet their family members and hence, they should be allowed to visit them.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu requested the PM for TrueNat machines for quick COVID-19 testing as a large number of stranded people have begun returning to the northeastern state. TrueNat is a tuberculosis testing machine, which the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved for coronavirus tests as it can provide results within an hour, if the case is negative. However, for positive cases, it has to be reconfirmed through other methods.
The Arunachal Pradesh CM said the state’s lone RT-PCR laboratory has been under tremendous pressure as people stuck outside because of the lockdown have started arriving.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy called for an end to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown as it has vastly affected the livelihoods of people, and appealed to the Centre to take a relook into the current containment strategy and shift towards preparing people to live with the virus. He also demanded resumption of inter-state transport service and stated that Andhra Pradesh requires Rs 16,000 crore immediately to fight COVID-19.
Goa CM Pramod Sawant urged the PM to lift curbs on inter-state public transport partially and demanded resumption of mining activity and tourism to kickstart the state economy. Goa, which has been tagged as a green zone with no COVID-19 case as of now, has partially lifted curbs on its economic activities.