CHANDIGARH: Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Friday suggested that the lockdown should continue beyond May 31 and justified the strictness at the Delhi borders, saying free movement will lead to a surge in coronavirus cases in the state.
"If you ask my personal opinion, strictness will have to be maintained. Giving more relaxations at this stage can lead to increase in cases. Because the stage at which coronavirus is right now, need of the hour is that lockdown should be extended," he told reporters here.
"Already relaxations have been given like opening of 'bazaar' (markets), factories domestic flights have restarted. I am not in favour of more relaxations because cases are going up," Vij said, adding he would convey his opinion to the chief minister.
Citing a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in the Haryana districts adjoining Delhi during the past week, Vij had on Thursday issued orders for sealing borders with the national capital.
"Cases are increasing in the districts adjoining Delhi. The main reason for this is movement of people from Delhi into these adjoining districts of Haryana. Barring the categories exempted by the Delhi High Court and those exempted by the Centre under lockdown 4.0, the state borders for others will remain completely sealed," the order had said.
Talking to the media later, the minister said if the central government will allow free movement of people after lockdown 4.0 ends on May 31, the state will follow the directions.
Meanwhile, traffic jams were reported on the Delhi-Gurgaon border on Friday after the latest order by the Haryana government made the movement of people across the borders without valid permission tougher.
"I regularly monitor things and keep a close watch on the situation. Here we are trying to save each life, if we do not maintain strictness at the borders and allow free movement of people, then I can say undoubtedly, our cases would be at par with Delhi. I have to stop free movement of people," Vij asserted.
He said Haryana would have been much better on the COVID-19 front had it not been impacted by Delhi...70-80 per cent of the cases (in Haryana) are from districts adjoining the national capital," the minister noted.
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Vij, who is also the state health minister, also batted for extension of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, saying it was the need of the hour.
He said the state has ensured strict implementation of the Centre's guidelines on the pandemic.
"We are allowing those categories granted exemption as per orders of the Delhi high court. We are also allowing those exempted by the Ministry of Home Affairs like doctors, municipal staff, essential services, we are not stopping them when the Centre has not given permission for free movement, how can I permit? It is my 'dharam' (responsibility) and 'karam' (deed) to follow the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs I have to protect the people of my state," he said.
The health minister added that he has deputed a team under the supervision of his Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajiv Arora and Director General of Health Services, Suraj Bhan Kamboj to study the COVID-19 situation in the four worst-hit districts of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonipat and Jhajjar.
These four districts account for a majority of coronavirus cases in the state.
The death toll due to the disease in Delhi stands at 398 as against 19 people in Haryana.
While Haryana has reported over 1,500 COVID-19 cases, Delhi has over 17,000 cases.
On the Delhi-Gurgaon border, many Delhiites working in Gurgaon claimed they were not allowed entry into the Haryana side.
"I travelled from my home in Mahipalpur (in Delhi). I was stopped by policemen at the 'naka' in Gurgaon who said new orders have been issued," a security guard employed in Gurgaon said.
The Gurgaon police has put up barricades at various places coupled with intense checking of vehicles.
Restrictions were also in place on the Delhi-Faridabad border.