With Covid poised to soar, PM Modi to confer with chief ministers again

age correspondent  | sanjay kaw

India, All India

The states are pleading with the central government allow some breathing space for the economy

PM Narendra Modi last had a videoconference with chief ministers on April 27.

New Delhi: With the economy in the dog house and the Covid-19 pandemic poised to peak in the next four to six weeks, prime mininster Narendra Modi will interact again with chief ministers via video-conferencing Monday to seek their views on how to go ahead with the easing of restrictions.

Modi’s interaction with the CMs, scheduled for 3 pm Monday, will be his fifth since the lockdown was imposed nationwide at midnight March 24, and which is due to last till May 17. The number of Covid-19 infections has more than doubled since the PM last interacted with the CMs on April 27 — from just over 28,000 cases to more than 65,000 cases now.

Sources said while the lockdown is likely to be further extended, restrictions could be lifted in some key sectors, with the focus on reviving economic activity. Several states have recently relaxed labour laws to restart activities by allowing limited staff to work in shifts.

The meeting will also focus on pushing measures to convert red zones with high Covid-19 case loads into orange or green zones. The Union Health ministry on May 1 classified 733 districts as 130 in the red zone, 284 in the orange zone and 319 in the green zone.

The states are likely to raise issues related to  special trains to take migrant workers to their home states, seek permission to allow more economic activities in non-hotspots, financial resources to back small businesses and the vulnerable, and additional supply of testing kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman too will hold a video conference with chief executives of public sector banks and the State Bank of India chairman to review the flow of credit into the economy. The meeting will review credit sanctions and disbursements since March 1. It is expected to look at Covid-related sanctioned/pre-approved emergency credit and reassessment based additional working capital.

There has been a steep rise in coronavirus cases during Lockdown 3.0. The number of coronavirus cases has risen from 40,000 to 65,000 in the past week. If the spread of the infection is not contained, the number of cases will soon cross that of China, which stands at 82,901. The virus death toll in China is 4,633.