Monday, 30th October 2017

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Lockdown lift ‘not advisable’

Modi said the final call was yet to be taken on extending the lockdown, but made it clear that it could continue beyond April 14

  • Published 9.04.20, 2:34 AM
  • Updated 9.04.20, 2:34 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with floor leaders of Opposition parties in Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told an all-party meeting that the coronavirus crisis was akin to a “national emergency” and that lifting the countrywide lockdown did not appear “advisable” by any account.

Addressing floor leaders of all parties, Modi said the final call was yet to be taken on extending the lockdown, but made it clear that it could continue beyond April 14, when the 21-day period initially announced ends.

Aaj lockdown uthana, kahin se bhi advisable hai, aisa nahi aa raha hai (Under the circumstances, lifting the lockdown doesn’t seem advisable by any account),” he told the leaders at the end of the interaction by videoconference.

Main chief ministers se baat karunga, lekin abhi tak jo sir aa raha hai ki lockdown uthana itna saral nahi hoga (I will talk to the chief ministers but so far, the dominant view is that it wouldn’t be easy to lift the lockdown),” Modi is heard saying in a video clip of the meeting.

Modi is scheduled to hold a second round of videoconference with chief ministers on Saturday where the final decision on whether to extend the lockdown would be taken.

Modi didn’t say by how long the lockdown could be extended, but sources in the government indicated that it could be till April-end.

Aaj ki jo stithi hai, national emergency jaise hai. Usi se hum guzar rahe hai (The present situation is like a national emergency. We are passing through it),” Modi is heard in the video clip as saying, and proceeding to underline the need for taking “tough (kathor)” and “unprecedented” measures.

A media release issued by the Centre, however, quoted Modi as saying “social emergency”.

Modi said that apart from “social distancing” and “lockdown”, there was no other option to deal with the pandemic.

During his address, Modi underlined at least thrice that lifting the lockdown wasn’t possible. “Karib karib mood ye ban raha hai ki ekdam se lockdown uthana sambhav nahi hoga. Lekin aage dekhenge (The mood more or less taking shape is that it may not be possible to lift the lockdown in one go. But let’s see what happens),” the Prime Minister said.

Modi also said several states, district administrations and experts had sought the continuation of the lockdown.

At the meeting, Opposition leaders demanded that the government provide money and food grains to the poor and daily wage-earners, who have been badly hit by the lockdown. They also sought more testing for the coronavirus and adequate protective gear for healthcare professionals treating Covid-19 patients.

Modi told the leaders that India was “facing a serious economic challenge” because of the outbreak but added that the country was committed to overcoming it. He stressed that the more important task before the government now was to save each and every life.

At the meeting, top government officials gave a presentation on the steps being taken to meet the emerging challenges.