Coronavirus outbreak: You take precautions, government will take responsibility, says Uddhav Thackeray

Updated: Apr 12, 2020, 07:06 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

After a video conference with PM Modi, attended by other CMs, Uddhav Thackeray announces extension to Maharashtra's quarantine till April 30

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday

As expected, the lockdown in Maharashtra has been extended to April 30. Declaring this on Saturday, CM Uddhav Thackeray said relaxation would be facilitated in some places, but restrictions in the hotspots would be stricter than those in place since March 25. The state had declared a lockdown-like situation on March 18 itself.

The decision came after PM Narendra Modi held a video conference with state CMs. The deliberations lasted over four hours in which all agreed to extend the lockdown by at least two weeks. Punjab and Odisha had announced the extension earlier in the week.

Thackeray said he had gone to the meeting with a resolve not to withdraw restrictions after April 14. "I told the PM that if others were not in favour of continuing with the present restrictions, I would definitely extend the lockdown in Maharashtra beyond April 14 for at least two weeks," he said in a webcast. "There is no other option but to extend the lockdown at least till April 30. It could be lifted after that only if we are disciplined in following the restrictions. There will be relaxations in some places. I will notify [the public] about it. But, the measures would be strictest ever in hotspots," he said.

Thackeray gave the PM and his counterparts from other states the example of Sangli district, which has controlled the pandemic with strict enforcement, containment, screening and healthcare preparedness. The district hasn't reported a new patient all of April, after recording 25 in March.

"We will share further details of the extended lockdown before April 14. We will also ell you what will be done about labourers, workers and industries. You take precautions, the government will take responsibility," he said, assuring citizens that supplies would continue to be available and, like the previous lockdown period, there will not be any restriction on farming-related activities.

During the video conference, the leaders also discussed relaxation of the lockdown for certain sectors. Decisions to be taken henceforth would be uniform across the state, but states may take situation-based measures. The restrictions would be stricter for hotspots like Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Delhi, which have higher number of cases.

The CMs asked for a national lockdown instead of state-specific restrictions. They suggested that surface and air transport should not be started. However, they said the supply chain logistics shouldn't be affected by the lockdown. But inter-state and inter-district borders would continue to be sealed for human and private vehicle movement.

Fearing a complete economic breakdown, the states also asked for financial aid packages from the Centre and advised that some sectors such fishing and agriculture be opened for operations because they are directly related to the country's food requirements. They also wanted relief for the agricultural and industrial sectors in their states.

Agriculture has emerged crucial in the current circumstances because it's harvesting season. According to experts, the standing crop needs to be taken off the fields and carried to the warehouses and market places. Perishable farm commodities must reach customers. And, where harvesting is completed, the farms need to be prepared for the next rain-fed sowing season. Maharashtra has not stopped agriculture-related activities, but farmers haven't ventured out because of risk factors. PM Modi has accepted the suggestion for withdrawing restrictions on fishing and farming.

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