VIJAYAWADA: Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday said the lockdown should be restricted to red zones and places of mass gatherings —such as religious institutions, cinemas, malls, public transport and educational institutes — and in other places, emphasis on social distancing would suffice. Of the of 676 mandals in the State, 37 are red zones, and 44 are in the orange category.
He said this during a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adding that lifting the lockdown in non-red zones would help restore normalcy in the agriculture and industrial sectors, which affect the livelihoods of millions of people in the State. “We are able to keep coronavirus from spreading further by god’s grace, and I strongly believe the invisible threat we face today will be effectively combated and defeated,” he said, adding that these are his views after assessing the situation in the State. He underlined the need for a unified effort to eliminate the threat, reposed faith in the Modi’s leadership, and promised to implement the strategies suggested by him.
Pointing out that agriculture plays a key role in the Indian economy, Jagan said its share in GSDP is 35 per cent and contribution to employment generation is 62 per cent. Inter-state transportation of agricultural produce reduced drastically during the lockdown due to fear, with less than 25 per cent of trucks being operated, he added. “Andhra Pradesh doesn’t have enough godowns and warehouses to stock agricultural produce. Since there are no markets, the State government has to procure paddy, maize, chili, tobacco, banana, papaya and vegetables. But to what extent can they be utilised locally for domestic consumption? If this situation continues, lakhs of families dependent on agriculture and allied sectors will suffer losses,” he said.
‘Lockdown hits revenue, less fund for relief works’
The Chief Minister also pointed out that the aqua sector is suffering losses due to a lack of cold storage facilities and exports. The State’s industrial sector too has suffered during the lockdown, as only 7,250 out of 1,03,986 industrial units are functioning. Distribution networks have also been severely hampered.
Asking how industries are expected to pay staff when operations have been halted, Jagan said the lockdown has impacted the State’s revenue and there is a paucity of funds for relief and government welfare initiatives.
Migrant labourers and daily wagers too have been severely affected, he added, and explained that while he wholeheartedly supports the Prime Minister’s decisions and strict measures, he feels the wheel of the economy should run unhindered. The Chief Minister also explained how the lockdown is being implemented in the State and how the affected people were being helped. The health of 1.4 crore families in the state is being closely monitored, and people with Covid-19 symptoms are being identified, tested and treated, he said.
He further detailed how 2,61,216 village/ward volunteers, 40,000 ASHA workers and 20,200 ANMs are keeping track of people’s health, and containment measures such as random testing in the 141 containment clusters, recognised as hotspots, are being undertaken. Hospital infrastructure is being improved and four critical care hospitals were set up, besides 13 district Covid-19 hospitals and quarantine facilities with a bed strength of 26,000, he told the Prime Minister.
Key points made by CM