As India battles the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday interacted with Chief Ministers of all states via video conferencing to strategise ahead for tackling the spread of the pandemic. This was the third such interaction of the Prime Minister with the Chief Ministers, the earlier ones had been held on 2nd April and 20th March, 2020.
Prime Minister observed that the combined effort of the Centre and the States has definitely helped reduce the impact of COVID-19 but since the situation is rapidly evolving, constant vigilance is paramount. He emphasised the criticality of coming 3-4 weeks for determining the impact of the steps taken till now to contain the virus, adding that teamwork is the key to facing the challenge.
Prime Minister categorically assured that India has adequate supplies of essential medicines and said that measures are being taken to ensure availability of protective gear and critical equipment for all front-line workers. He also gave a stern message against black marketing and hoarding.
Condemning and expressing distress at the instances of attacks on the doctors and medical staff, and at incidents of misbehavior with students from North-East and Kashmir, Prime Minister underlined that such cases need to be dealt with firmly. He also spoke about the need to curb Lockdown violations and ensure that social distancing is followed.
Talking about the Exit Plan from Lockdown, Prime Minister said that there seems to be a consensus amongst the states on extension of Lockdown by another two weeks. He underlined that the motto of the government earlier was ‘jaan hai to jahaan hai’ but now is ‘jaan bhi jahaan bhi’.
The Prime Minister talked about strengthening healthcare infrastructure and reaching out to patients through tele-medicine. He also suggested that direct marketing for farm produce can be incentivised to prevent crowding in mandis, for which model APMC laws should be reformed swiftly. Such steps will help farmers sell products at their doorstep.
Prime Minister also spoke about popularising the Aarogya Setu app to ensure downloads in greater numbers. He referred to how South Korea and Singapore got success in contact tracing. Based on those experiences, India has made its own effort through the app which will be an essential tool in India’s fight against the pandemic, he said. He also referred to the possibility of the app being an e-pass which could subsequently facilitate travel from one place to another.
Talking about the economic challenges, Prime Minister said that the crisis is an opportunity to become self-reliant and turn the nation into an economic powerhouse.
The Chief Ministers provided feedback about the COVID positive cases in their respective states, steps taken by then to maintain social distancing, ramp up healthcare infrastructure, mitigate difficulties of migrants and maintain supply of essentials. The Chief Ministers suggested that lockdown should be extended by two weeks. They also sought financial and fiscal assistance from the Centre to boost their resources in this fight against the pandemic.
The interaction was also attended by Union Home Minister, Defence Minister, Health Minister, Principal Secretary, Cabinet Secretary and other senior officials of Government of India.