NEW DELHI: With the wheels of the economy set to roll from Monday as partial relaxation of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown begins, stranded labourers will finally get to earn their livelihood. The reopening of large industrial units that can house labourers is a priority.
However, the Centre did a U-turn on allowing e-commerce platforms to deliver non-essential goods, as small traders demanded a level playing field and described the permission as discriminatory, saying they (traders) were not given similar rights.
The government changed its mind after the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying if e-commerce players are allowed to resume deliveries of non-essential items, it would be unfair to the small traders.
While most states were primed to emerge partially from the lockdown, Delhi decided not to lift it at all, since the situation there is far from normal. Telangana went a step ahead and extended the lockdown till May 7. And Karnataka will continue its lockdown till April 21 midnight after which it will take a call.
In Kerala, near normal life will be back in Kottayam and Idukki districts while restrictions will be eased in five others. Dine-in restaurants will be allowed in these seven districts with social distancing.
Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah on Saturday reviewed plans to relax the lockdown with senior officers, where the big stress was on caution to ensure that only genuine exemptions and relaxations are given by the officials on the ground.
“In order to give a boost to the rural economy, certain economic activities have been permitted in rural areas. The district administrations in collaboration with industries, should make arrangements to transfer labourers to their place of work within the state,” said a senior official on Sunday, adding that the step will give a fillip to economic activity and provide employment to labourers.
The Centre, the official said, has asked states to give due attention to operationalising big industrial units, industrial estates and industrial complexes, especially where the labourers can be accommodated within the complex.
“Such activities can help triggering economic revival, while ensuring that the labourers are provided gainful employment,” added the official.
In view of large-scale movement of migrant workers, the Union home ministry has asked states to engage them in industrial, manufacturing, construction, farming and rural works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
While the intra-state movement of labourers has been allowed, their inter-state movement continues to be barred.
The government is waiting to assess the impact of the relaxations on coronavirus cases before taking a decision on the future of the lockdown, which has been extended till May 3.