Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Chief Ministers of states and Lieutenant Governors of Union territories; through video conferencing to discuss the situation emerging post Unlock 1 and plans ahead for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the sixth such interaction of the Prime Minister with the Chief Ministers. The earlier ones had been held on 20th March, 2nd April, 11th April, 27th April, and 11th May.
Prime Minister observed that timely decisions taken to combat the pandemic have been effective in containing its spread in the country. When we look back, people will remember that we have presented an example for cooperative federalism to the world, he said.
Prime Minister said, we have tried to save each and every life. He underlined that all modes of transport are now open, lakhs of migrant labourers have travelled back to their villages, thousands of Indians have returned from abroad, and even though India has a huge population, coronavirus has not assumed as life threatening a form as in the rest of the world. Mr. Modi said that health experts world over are praising the discipline shown by Indians, adding that the recovery rate in the country is now over 50%. He also noted that India is amongst the nations with the least deaths due to coronavirus. Prime Minister mentioned that a big lesson is that if we remain disciplined and follow all rules, coronavirus will cause least damage. He emphasized on the importance of usage of mask/ face cover, without which no one should venture out. He also talked about following the mantra of ‘do gaz ki doori’, washing hands with soap and using sanitizer. He forewarned that any laxity in discipline will weaken our fight against the virus.
Prime Minister noted that with the efforts of the past few week, green shoots in the economy are visible, including rise in power consumption which was earlier falling, fertilizer sale in May this year seeing a significant increase, a healthy increase in Kharif sowing in comparison to last year, production of two wheelers increasing, digital payment in retail reaching pre lockdown level, increase in toll collection in May and bouncing back of exports. These signals are encouraging us to forge ahead.
Mr. Modi said there is significant importance of agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and MSMEs in the participating States, provisions for which have been made under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan. He said that if quick disbursal of credit to MSMEs is ensured through Bankers Committees, these industries will be able to start working quickly while also ensuring provision of employment opportunities. Smaller factories require guidance and hand-holding.
He mentioned the importance of working together on value chains to give fillip to trade and industry. Specific Economic Activity Points in the states should work 24 hours a day and loading and unloading should be quickened to give further boost to economic activity.
The interaction was the first part of the two day conclave, and witnessed participation of States and UTs including Punjab, Assam, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Goa, Manipur, Nagaland, Ladakh, Puducherry, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra Nagar Haveli & Daman Diu, Sikkim and Lakshadweep.
The Chief Ministers and LGs thanked the Prime Minister for his leadership during such a challenging time. They provided feedback about existing health infrastructure in their states and efforts for augmentation to tackle the impact of the virus. They mentioned about the awareness campaigns being run by them, help being provided to workers who have returned home, usage of Aarogya Setu app, and kick-starting of economic activities in the states.
Earlier, Prime Minister had held a detailed meeting with senior ministers and officials on 13th June to review India’s response to Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting had reviewed the national level status and preparation in the context of the pandemic.It was observed that out of the total cases two-thirds are in 5 states with an overwhelming proportion of cases in big cities.
Prime Minister had taken cognizance of the recommendations of the Empowered Group on city- and district-wise requirements of hospital beds/isolation beds which will be required and instructed Health Ministry officials to undertake emergency planning in consultation with the States/UTs. He had also advised the Ministry to ensure suitable preparations in view of the start of the Monsoon season.
Script: Kaushik Roy, AIR: News Analyst