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Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting with parliamentary floor leaders of both Houses on April 8 said it didn’t seem possible that the countrywide lockdown can be lifted as per the original schedule of April 14, but added that he will consult the Chief Ministers before deciding the exit strategy.

A task force for minimising restrictions in districts where there are no cases or a few cases in Karnataka was set up by the state government.

Details of what was discussed and demanded:

  • The Prime Minister heard everyone’s concerns and spoke about the ongoing lockdown. He said that as per the advice and information that he has been receiving it looks difficult to end the lockdown on April 14.
  • He flagged the urgent need to refinance the industries and ensure cash in the hands of labourers who find themselves out of job because of the lock down.
  • The harvesting season has begun, so the PM was told to ensure that the farmer is not inconvenienced during the lock down and harvesting can go on without any trouble.
  • Central assistance provided to the state of Kerala for COVID relief is ₹157 crore. It’s is only 1.4 per cent of the total ₹11,091 crores allocated nationally, hence  a hike in financial assistance to the State was sought.
  • The rescue package that the government announced is extremely limited and will not help. Most countries have drawn up a package worth at least 10% of the GDP. In case of India by the same calculations it should have been 15-20 lakh crore. So far the government has only announced 2 lakh crores.

Task force set up by Karnataka State Government

The task force set up by the State government to review the COVID-19 lockdown has submitted its report recommending extension of restrictions in hotspot districts in the State where high number of positive cases have been reported.

Highlights of the Report and Task Force’s views

  • The report has said that all schools and colleges should be closed till May-end and thrust should be on online classes.
  • The task force is of the view that inter-State borders should remain closed and no buses, trains, flights or metro trains should be allowed till April 30, while autorickshaws should be allowed to ply.
  • The report said that the government can consider allowing odd and even number registration vehicles to operate on alternate days.
  • The other recommendations of the task force include encouraging online health services, allowing opening of shops without air conditioning, letting IT/BT companies and essential services, government offices, factories to function with only 50% staff.
  • Local shops should be opened for longer duration to avoid crowd, said the report.
  • The report said that these recommendations should be in force between April 15 to April 30 and can later be reviewed.
  • However, the task force has underlined that social distancing should be maintained for the next six months.
December 2023