The nationwide lockdown - the fourth phase of which ends tomorrow - is likely to be extended beyond this date with more relaxations as most states are in favour of continuing it for two more weeks, sources said yesterday.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah conveyed the views of the states on the issue to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, in Delhi earlier in the day.
The sources pointed out that many states, majority of them ruled by the BJP, are in favour of the lockdown extension for the fifth time due to the increase in novel coronavirus cases in the wake of the return of migrant workers from different states and of Indians stuck abroad.
On Thursday, Shah held talks with chief ministers of different states to discuss how successful the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown had been and what were the expectations and demands of the states.
He also held separate discussions with chief minister of his Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments in different states.
The sources said most chief ministers favoured lockdown extension for two more weeks, with focus on containment zones and normalisation of activities in other zones.
The Goa chief minister wanted a 15-day extension.
Sources said that the ministry of home affairs was busy devising the strategy to be adopted in the fifth phase of the lockdown in the background of the feedback received from different chief ministers.
Meanwhile, a top finance ministry source yesterday said the government may consider direct cash transfers to the poor and migrant labourers if the current crisis deepens and a situation evolves where this exercise emerges as the best solution,
With no work in the cities due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown, millions of migrant labourers have taken to the road and other means to return back to their homes.
This section of the society has been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as their sources of income have completely dried up.
The source also said that the finance ministry has asked the labour ministry to collect data on job losses and pay cuts in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
Asked about monetising the fiscal deficit by printing more money, the official said that the issue would be looked at “when we reach that stage”, asserting that it has not come to that stage yet.
On restrictions put on Chinese investments in India, the official clarified that no decision has yet been taken to restrict China through the foreign portfolio investment (FPI) route.
With regard to the government’s Rs20tn economic package, the official source defended its structure while suggesting that comparisons with the economic packages of other countries should not be drawn as India’s need was different than others.
“We have gone with more reforms that were needed to give strength to the economy. This is required more in our country,” the source said.
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