As coronavirus cases continue to rise in India, states governments have requested the Centre to extend the lockdown that officially ends on April 14. The Central government, however, is yet to take a final decision on the matter.
Eleven empowered committees formed to oversee India's response to COVID-19 pandemic have received feedback from states on the lockdown extension, say sources. These include closure of all kinds of religious activities, and school and colleges till June; transfers and postings in government sector to be deferred for six months; closure of hotel, bars and restaurants till situation improves; and suspension of public events like weddings, funerals, and corporate town hall meetings.
Active coronavirus cases in India stand at 3,981, excluding 114 deaths. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend lockdown deadline by two more weeks. He said the situation would become uncontrollable if the lockdown was lifted "hastily".
"The lockdown is the reason the country is saved and has seen very few cases. A country like India has to be careful otherwise it will become uncontrollable. We have no other choice except to obey the lockdown. At least we are not seeing deaths like Italy, Spain and the US," KCR said during a media interaction.
The central government has sought feedback from all the states. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with chief ministers via video-conference and asked them to submit suggestions -- as per the situation in their respective states -- for a staggered exit after April 14.
A senior minister told India Today that the Centre was planning a "rational lockdown" -- a micro-managed exit -- as the government believes the lockdown had proved to be effective in curbing community spreading.
States like Punjab, Haryana and UP may favour partial relaxation in lockdown due to the commencement of wheat harvesting season which requires huge labour movement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address to BJP workers on Tuesday, said people needed to be ready for a long fight. He also asked them to plan a slow exit from the nationwide lockdown.