Coronavirus lockdown | States should decide on exit plan, says Baghel

‘They should have been empowered to demarcate containment zones’

Published - May 09, 2020 09:35 pm IST - New Delhi

Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. File

Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. File

The States should have the power to decide on the strategy to come out of the lockdown, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He has argued against the centralisation of the fight against COVID-19, saying the States should have been empowered to demarcate containment zones and decide on which economic activities to start and how.

In his May 8 letter, Mr. Baghel highlighted the practical difficulties in the demarcation of red zones by the Union government. Once the Centre announced the demarcation of zones based on the number of cases, what if fresh cases were detected in a green zone which had already been opened up for basic economic activities. “If a zone which had been opened up is again declared a red zone, whatever little economic activities that had restarted here will have to be shut down again. If an area that has been opened up after a long wait has to be closed down once again, we will only create a situation of unrest and uncertainty,” he said.

He said the country was going through a phase of uncertainty with no clear strategy to exit the lockdown, which is due to end on May 18. “To end all these uncertainties, it is essential that while observing all necessary precautions we slowly unroll our usual economic activities. And it would only be appropriate that the State governments are given the full rights to operate the economic activities,” he wrote.

On Saturday, India completed 49 days of lockdown, which started on March 25, and has been extended twice.

He also reiterated the need for the Centre to give the States financial assistance. He had asked for a ₹30,000-crore package over the next three months. “To bring the State’s economy back on track, it is essential that the Centre immediately provide ₹10,000 crore..., so that the State government can extend financial help to industries, businessmen, workers and farmers, and for other sectors,” he said.

He also warned that if the Centre did not step in immediately, it would be difficult for the State governments to carry on even the day-to-day operations.

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