CHANDIGARH: Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar Wednesday announced that public transport will resume in the state on an "experimental basis" from Friday, with a limited number of buses plying on select routes.
Even as the state looks to ease coronavirus restrictions to spur economic and other activities, Khattar made it clear that his government will not lower its guard and will not hesitate in imposing stricter curbs if things don't go as planned.
"Let us hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
He also said as the Centre has now revised guidelines pertaining to activities in red, green and orange zone, the state government will formulate district-specific policy to boost economic activities.
On resuming public transport, which has been shut since the lockdown was announced on March 25, Khattar said, "Local state transport, we are starting from Friday on an experimental basis."
"Like, we will run a few buses on Panchkula, Ambala, Sirsa, Mahendragarh, Narnaul routes," he told a press conference through video conferencing on Wednesday evening.
He also said that while online education was being imparted to students, there have been suggestions from various quarters to start classes with social distancing norms in place, but no decision has been taken in this regard.
On the revised lockdown guidelines pertaining to zones, he said, "Earlier, a district could not be declared green zone until it registers zero case for 21 days. Now, we will have to go ahead taking into account what is the situation in a particular district. Earlier, we used to formulate a scheme for the entire state, but now zoning will be district-centric."
He said that even the worst-hit districts which have reported the maximum COVID cases --like those in the NCR such as Gurgaon, Faridabad, Jhajjar and Sonipat -- are not affected in entirety.
Khattar said that easing restrictions does not mean that the government will lower the guard.
The lockdown will remain, strictness will be there, things like sanitisation, social distancing, wearing masks, and full restrictions in containment zones will remain in place, he said.
"All the activities which have or are restarting will be conditional, like if some problems emerge, then we will not hesitate to impose restrictions again," he said.
Replying to a question, he said the ban will continue to remain on social and religious gatherings.
"We have resumed many activities in all the 16 districts (which have reported a comparatively lower number of cases) and 24 lakh passes have been issued to people engaged in industrial and other services," he said.
With state losing revenue during the earlier phases of lockdown, he said, "In March and April, our revenue sources had dried up. But in May, they have started to slightly improve as economic activities are restarting phase-wise."
"Excise, GST, stamp duty. We have started to get revenue and we are expecting to get nearly 40 per cent of what we used to be during normal times," he said.
On the Centre's Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package, Khattar exuded hope that states too will get some kind of package.
"I believe that in the next two days, what package will be given to states/state government, definitely there will be some kind of announcement because without that states cannot run," he said.
"Because if states have to be run, we will have to either borrow or we get some package from the Centre. Taxes can be imposed, but that is not an option under present circumstances. At this stage, there are only two options, either borrow or we get a package from the Centre," he said.
Khattar said the state had fixed an expense of Rs 4,500 crore including on salaries which it has to manage each month.
"In March, we had borrowed Rs 8,336 crore, in April Rs 5,000 crore and in May, we have borrowed nearly Rs 2,000 crore. But how much we will have to borrow in coming days is difficult to say at this moment," he said.
He said the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) loan limit is 3 per cent, and if that limit is increased the state will borrow more.