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Lockdown 2.0: Make no mistake, it is an iron fist in a velvet glove

All states have been warned that any dilution of the guidelines would lead to suspension of relaxations, which would dent the state’s economy further.

Published: 16th April 2020 07:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th April 2020 03:19 PM   |  A+A-

People cross barricades where a notice on 'no entry of outsiders' can be seen during a nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic in Kolkata

People cross barricades where a notice on 'no entry of outsiders' can be seen during a nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.(Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: While the central government has allowed many more relaxations in the second phase of the shutdown, the new guidelines are aimed at making the enforcement stricter than before. The states have been warned that violation of lockdown measures would lead to suspension of relaxations. A move that could have an adverse impact on the economy of such non-compliant states. However, the states have also been told that, if required, they can enforce stricter norms than those that the centre announced on Wednesday.

After issuing a detailed order and revised guidelines for the second phase of the shutdown on Wednesday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla wrote a letter to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories urging them to strictly comply with the lockdown guidelines.
“The activities allowed under the consolidated revised guidelines will be withdrawn immediately if any of the lockdown measures are violated, risking the spread of COVID-19. All entities, in the Government and private sectors, and members of the public should follow the guidelines strictly,” the letter stated.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines to be followed during the lockdown which has been extended till May 3 to contain the pandemic, Bhalla said. Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PK Mishra and Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba also held a meeting with top bureaucrats of all the states to ensure proper implementation of the revised guidelines.
On March 24, when the union home ministry issued the guidelines for the first phase of the shutdown, Bhalla had made a “request” to the states/UTs and government departments to “ensure strict implementation” of the shutdown measures. The Union home ministry has been since then monitoring the shutdown on a daily basis. On April 11, the ministry pulled up the West Bengal government for “gradual dilution” of lockdown in the state, citing instances of alleged violation of the lockdown.
The newer, stricter guidelines have been introduced by the centre as the total number of COVID-19 cases in India has risen to 11,439 with 1,076 fresh cases reported in the last 24 hrs. The death toll from the pandemic stands at 377.
Various states have tackled the corona menace according to the size of their economies and on the basis of their public healthcare systems. For instance, Kerala, which has arguably the best healthcare system in the country, is becoming the first state in the country that’s showing a gradual flattening of the curve much before any other state. On the other hand, states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are seeing their healthcare system is overburdened, and the number of cases rising steadily.
Early studies show that states may have, all put together, already committed Rs 30,000 crore towards fighting the Coronavirus menace. This is why many states have been asking for financial aid from the centre in various forms.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao urged prime minister Narendra Modi to let states take the fiscal deficit up to five per cent of their respective GSDPs. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has sought a national economic relief package of Rs 10 trillion for disbursal to the states. She said funds from this could be used both, to fight the pandemic and support states’ economies.
Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar sought a Rs 25,000 crore package from the Centre. Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy had told the prime minister only 7,250 of the 103,986 industrial units in his state were running, and urged Modi to announce measures to restart the wheels of the economy while enforcing steps to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan sought financial help for labours in the unorganised sector for at least three months. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami has asked the Centre to sanction an ad hoc grant of Rs 1,000 crore from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy sought a package of Rs 300 crore.
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