Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Monday favoured extending the lockdown and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make alternative arrangements for trading of the state's apples as operations at Delhi's Azadpur Mandi got affected by spurt in COVID-19 cases. During a video conference chaired by the prime minister with chief ministers of different states, Thakur said Azadpur Mandi, Asia's largest vegetable and fruits wholesale market, is the main place for marketing of the state's apples.
The state expects a good produce this year. But with operations at the mandi in the national capital adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis, alternative arrangements must be made for the produce, he told the prime minister. Thakur said the economy of Himachal Pradesh has been badly affected due to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, but still favoured extending the curbs beyond May 17 to check spread of the infection.
The state government has developed a geo-fencing app to ensure that people coming from other states do not jump their quarantine period, the chief minister said. One lakh stranded people have already returned in the state. This has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases, he added.
The total number of cases increased by 19 in a week due to the returnees, Thakur said, adding at the same time it is the responsibility of the state government to provide all possible help to the stranded people. The chief minister further stated that 55,000 more stranded people want to return to Himachal Pradesh, whereas about 68,000 people stuck in the state want to go back to their native places.
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