In his fourth address to the nation battling coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today talk about the future course of action for the general public as well as industries suffering from mounting losses every day. Breaking away from his usual tradition of addressing the nation in the evening -- usually, 8 PM -- PM Modi will this time address the country at 10 AM.
The country-wide lockdown announced on March 25 officially ends today. PM Modi is likely to extend the pan-India lockdown by two more weeks till April 30 even though eight states have already done so.
Today's address will most likely emphasise on easing restrictions in areas with few or no coronavirus cases, while strict implementation of rules will be put in place where COVID-19 cases have been rising. The Prime Minister will also reveal how the government plans to re-start economic activity, which has come to a standstill since March.
PM Modi during video-conference with chief ministers on Saturday hinted the government might explore the possibility of opening up the economy to reduce the coronavirus impact. While earlier mantra was "jaan hai to jahan hai" (if there is life, you can enjoy the world), the way ahead would be "jaan bhi, jahan bhi (life as well as our world), he had said.
India's exit strategy
Speculations are rife despite possible lockdown extension April 30, the government may plan an 'exit strategy', regarding which guidelines could be issued soon. The Centre may allow businesses and markets to resume work, especially in areas with no coronavirus cases. Most states could also follow the 'Kerala Model', which has been successful in bending the coronavirus curve in the state.
The areas could be marked as red, orange and green zones, depending upon the number of cases. The areas with no case will be placed under 'green zone'. Areas with six or more cases could see the highest level of restrictions.
The government may also allow restoration of normal life under several restrictions, including maintaining social distancing and mandatory use of masks. The Centre may also announce measures to ease curbs for the agriculture sector in light of the ensuing wheat harvesting/procurement season in states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Sectors that have sought exemption from lockdown 2.0:
- Industries majorly dependent upon automation
- Big and small industries that have to fulfil export commitments
- Health and pharma allied industries
- Companies manufacturing essential services
- Agri allied industries
- Defence and allied industries
- Telcom, gems and jewellery
- Food and beverages
- Heavy electrical items
As per suggestions from several quarters, the government may put several riders for those opening their manufacturing units. These include:
- Single entry for workers
- No crowing or gathering of many people
- Major focus on sensitisation
- Exclusive transport for those working in such facilities
India has reported 324 fatalities due to coronavirus, as of April 14, 7.30 am, according to the health ministry. A total of 9,352 active cases have been reported to date. 980 COVID-19 patients have been cured or discharged.
Edited by Manoj Sharma