Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday interacted with the chief ministers to discuss the road ahead in India’s fight against COVID-19 and noted that he was of firm view that measures needed during the third phase of lockdown will not be needed in the fourth phase.
He said the need was to reduce the transmission rate of the disease and to increase public activity gradually while adhering to all the guidelines and efforts have to be made towards achieving both these objectives.
“I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the second phase and similarly the measures needed in the third phase are not needed in the fourth,” the Prime Minister.
The country is in the third phase of lockdown which will end on May 17.
This was fifth meeting of Prime Minister with Chief Ministers through video-conferencing.
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister said there was a reasonably clear indication as to the geographical spread of the pandemic in India.
“We now have reasonably clear indication as to the geographical spread of the pandemic in India, including the worst affected areas.
Moreover, over the past few weeks, officials have understood operating procedures in a time such as this, right up to the district level,” he said.
PM Modi said that this understanding of the spread of COVID-19 will help the country in having a focused fight against it.
“And therefore, we can now further focus our strategy in this battle against coronavirus, as should be the case. We have a twofold challenge – to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually, while adhering to all the guidelines, and we will have to work towards achieving both these objectives”, he said, according to an official release.
Prime Minister Modi reaffirmed the importance of ‘Do Gaz Ki Doori’ and added that suggestion of night curfew raised by many chief ministers would surely reaffirm the feeling of caution among people.
“I request you all to share with me by May 15, a broad strategy on how each one of you would want to deal with the lockdown regime in your particular states. I want states to make a blue print on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown”, he said.
The Prime Minister said “we will need an all-encompassing approach to deal with various challenges that will arise before us”.
The Prime Minister thanked the Chief Ministers for their proactive role in the country’s fight against COVID-19 and for their suggestions emanating out of their grassroots-level experience.
He said “we must understand that the world has fundamentally changed post COVID-19”.
“Now the world will be pre-corona, post-corona just like the case of the World Wars. And this would entail significant changes in how we function,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi said the new way of life would be on the principle of “Jan Se lekar Jag Tak”, from an individual to the whole of humanity.
He said we must all plan for the new reality.
“Even as we look at the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown, we should constantly remember that till we do not find a vaccine or a solution, the biggest weapon with us to the fight the virus is social distancing,” he said.
He said now the efforts should be to stop the spread of the COVID-19 to rural areas and noted that the suggestions made by the states for a roadmap on economy have been given due consideration.
The Chief Ministers in their suggestions on economy sought support to MSMEs, infrastructure projects like power, easing of interest rates on loans and assured market access to the agricultural produce.
They appreciated the leadership of the Prime Minister in the country’s fight against COVID-19 and also highlighted the need to strengthen the medical and health infrastructure in the country.
Several of them pointed out that with the return of migrants, there is a need to concentrate on strict implementation of the social distancing guidelines, usage of masks and sanitization in order to curb the spread through fresh infection, especially in rural areas.
In the video conference, the compulsory quarantining of the stranded Indians returning from abroad was also highlighted.
The Prime Minister said that with the onset of monsoon, there will be proliferation of many non-COVID19 diseases, for which we must prepare and strengthen our medical and health systems.
He also asked the policy makers to also keep in mind how to embrace new models of teaching and learning in the education sector.
Referring to tourism, the Prime Minister said he saw potential for domestic tourism but we need to think of the contours of the same.
With reference to resumption of train services, the Prime Minister said this is needed to rev up the economic activity, but said that all the routes will not be resumed and only a limited number of trains would ply.
Modi said he continues to feel optimistic, when not even a single state sounded despondent and that this collective determination will make India win in its fight against COVID-19.
He said that the post-COVID era also brings opportunities that India must leverage.
During the video conference, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh pitched for extension of the lockdown with a “carefully crafted strategy”, which is to be backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of the states to save lives and secure livelihood.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that extending the lockdown will make it convenient to manage the migrants coming back to the state. “It will help in detecting possibly infected persons and containing the spread of COVID-19,” he said.