Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, during the video-conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recommended the extension of the national lockdown by at least a fortnight while suggesting a slew of health and relief measures to the people in the state’s coronavirus battle in addition to special concessions for industry and agriculture sectors on an urgent basis.
Captain Amarinder Singh also pointed out that there was huge uncertainty about the likely incidence of disease and the nation was in for a long fight. Given the trend in China and several European countries, it was necessary to continue the lockdown, he said. Adding, he said that though the restrictions were causing a lot of hardship to the people, India could not afford to take any chances. The people of Punjab have high morale, and will continue to support government efforts to combat the pandemic, he added.
Captain Amarinder told the members in the meeting that the state government had already decided to go for curfew/complete lockdown till May 1, with all the educational institutions to be closed till June 30, with state Board examinations also deferred till further orders. Section 144 remains in place, along with the prohibition of public service vehicles till May 1.
Meanwhile, Captain Amarinder Singh sought Special Risk Insurance for all the government employees, including police personnel, sanitation workers and all other employees, who are working day and night to help ameliorate the miseries and stress of common man in these trying times. It was important for the Centre and States to keep the morale of people and frontline workers (Health staff, police. Sanitation workers, etc) high, he stressed.
He also underlined the need to substantially increase the number of tests being done and go for rapid testing, at least in the state’s hotspot areas of Nawanshahar, Dera Bassi and Mohali. The Chief Minister said that the Central Government should hasten supplies of required testing kits. It may be noted that the state has ordered 10 lakh such kits from ICMR while raising inquiry about another 10000 in the open market. He also asked for early permission for testing in DMC and CMC Ludhiana, as already requested by the Union Health Minister.
The Chief Minister further requested Rs 500 crore for upgrading infrastructure of government hospitals in Punjab, which is currently at stage 2 of the pandemic and has a large NRI population. He also called for speedy approval, on a priority basis, by the Centre to the state’s proposal for Rs 550 crore project to set up an Advanced Centre for Virology in Punjab.