From Our Bureau
11th April 2020
Telangana Government has decided to extend the lockdown till April 30 to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The State Cabinet discussed the situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic in the State for four-and-half-hours on Saturday.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said that the extended lockdown will be implemented very strictly. He pointed out that there was every possibility that Telangana would be largely free of the virus by April 24 given the present declining trend of positive cases. “This would also largely depend on not many new cases surfacing, particularly from the areas that have been declared containment zones,” he added.
The Chief Minister said so far 14 deaths had been reported out of the total of 503 positive cases in the State. While 96 persons, most of them foreign returnees and their primary contacts who tested positive in the first wave of COVID-19 virus, have been discharged, the number of active cases in the State in various hospitals as on Saturday was 393. “Thankfully, none of them are critical cases and do not even require to be put on ventilators,” he said and added that only 1,654 persons with symptoms were under quarantine in various facilities across the State.
Pointing out that all the 25,937 persons who were quarantined in various facilities with symptoms had been discharged after they completed the prescribed quarantine period, he said a total of 243 places, including 123 under GHMC limits and the remaining 120 in other areas across the State, had been identified as containment zones. “The situation in these places is being monitored constantly, and people residing in these zones are not allowed to come out nor are people from outside allowed to enter these areas,” he said.
The Chief Minister felt that the situation would have been well under control but for the Markaz episode and said that 1,200 Nizamuddin returnees and their primary and secondary contacts had been identified and traced and are either undergoing treatment or placed in quarantine facilities across the State.
“All the corona positive patients in the State undergoing treatment at various hospitals and those under quarantine as of now are expected to be discharged by April 24,” he said, adding that if no fresh cases are reported during the intervening period, particularly from the containment zones, people can breathe easy since the situation would be under control.
“It is therefore essential that people maintain social distancing, adhere to the lockdown norms strictly, don’t indulge in mass meetings and refrain from religious gatherings since this would tremendously help in containing the virus,” he said.
Observing that neighbouring Maharashtra was the worst-hit State in the country, he said this was a matter of concern since the two States shared a long border. “The borders will remain sealed and there will be increased vigilance to ensure that there is no movement of non-essential vehicles and people into Telangana from the neighbouring State,” he added.
The Chief Minister also declared that all students of Classes 1 to 9 would be automatically promoted to higher classes. He appealed to parents not to be worried about examinations and promised that a decision with regard to SSC examinations would be taken at a later date.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the present lockdown, implemented to prevent spread of Corona Virus, for another two weeks across the country. To ensure that farmers are not to put to losses and there is no problem for the supply of essential commodities during the lockdown, the food processing industry should be allowed to function, he added.
The Prime Minister held a video-conference with all the Chief Ministers on Saturday. During the four hour-long video-conference, Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao made several suggestions to the PM. The CM, who wanted the lockdown to be extended, expressed his opinion on issues related to lives of people, agriculture, finance etc.
“India is fighting against the Corona Virus unitedly. The fight should continue with the same spirit. International media is also praising that the country was fighting against the Corona virus quite valiantly. The States are getting required support from the Centre to fight against Corona. India will be victorious over its war against Corona,” he observed. “Lockdown has helped in containing the spread of Corona to a great level. It is better to extend the lockdown for two more weeks. There is no other better solution than this,” he added.
“For our country the lifeline is agriculture. Not only providing food to people, agriculture provides livelihood to many. It’s not possible for any country to feed India with its 135 Crore population. We are self-sufficient as far as food grains are concerned. This situation should continue. We have to stand by our farmers who feed us,” he said.
To protect the agriculture sector and ensure that there is no shortage of essential commodities, the food processing units should function. Measures should be taken to run rice mills, oil mills, and other agriculture-based industries. There is a need to link agriculture with MNREGA. This scheme should continue for at least two months. The Indian government should bring a policy by which farmers would pay half the wages for labourers and other half would be from MNREGA funds. “With this, we will be able to support farmers at the difficult times,” he added.
“All over the country the agriculture yield was in several crore tonnes. The primary responsibility for us is to procure the produce. There is no place where we can store the procured food grains. By giving rice required for people for the next three months, the FCI godowns in the country can be emptied. The newly procured food grains can be stored in these godowns,” he pointed out.
To prevent crowding of farmers at one place, in the Telangana State, 6, 849 procurement centres were opened at the village level and the food grains are procured from there. For the procurement of paddy, the government gave bank guarantee for Rs 25,000 Crores.
“We are procuring paddy in the villages and depositing money in the accounts of the farmers directly. The paddy thus procured is made into rice and supplied to the FCI. To get money from the FCI, it will take four to five months. Till such time, the Central Government should take measures so that Banks would not put any pressure for the payment of dues,” he added.
In 1918 due to Spanish Flu, there was an economic crisis all over the world. In 2008, there was an economic recession all over the globe. “Due to proper measures, we should get over it. Even now, we are facing financial problems. To counter this, we need a strategic economic policy. RBI should implement quantitative easing policy. This is called Helicopter money. This will facilitate the States and financial institutions to accrue funds. We can come out of the financial crisis. The Central Government should release 5 per cent of funds from the GDP through Quantitative Easing Policy. It should also increase FBRM ceiling from 3 per cent to 5 per cent,” he observed.
The Central Government should take initiative to postpone for six months, the monthly interest paid by the States on debts from the Centre. A Task Force under the Chairmanship of the PM should be set up. In the backdrop of Lockdown, the Task Force has to prepare an action plan on how to help farmers and the policy to be implemented to tide over the economic situation. (eom)