Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has asked officials to prepare a plan for the implementation of a lockdown as the cases rise rapidly in the state. The CM directed the officials to prepare a lockdown roadmap that will have a minimum impact on the economy. The move has been severely condemned by the BJP and Thackeray's alliance partner National Congress Party (NCP).
In a meeting held with the chief minister, health minister Rajesh Tope, and other officials, principal secretary to state health department Dr Pradeep Vyas said there will be a "tremendous stress" on the availability of beds, oxygen supply, and ventilators, which could fall short if the cases continue to go up.Maharashtra on Monday added 31,643 fresh infections, taking the overall cases to 27,45,518. The death toll due to COVID-19 has climbed to 54,283 as of March 29. The member of the task force recommended the state government implement measures like a stricter lockdown to stem the rise in coronavirus positive cases.
"There should not be any kind of confusion among the people once a lockdown is announced," the CM is quoted as saying.
However, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said most of the cabinet leaders have opposed the idea of lockdown. He said that instead of another lockdown, efforts should be made to strengthen health infrastructure, vaccination process, and enforcement of coronavirus safety protocols stringently.On the other hand, the BJP has warned of protests if the Maharashtra government imposes a lockdown. BJP state president Chandrakant Patil said the lockdown has hit the poor severely and the second lockdown would deteriorate the situation and the economy. Patil has demanded the Maharashtra government to declare a package of Rs 5,000 for daily wagers who will be impacted by the lockdown.Last week, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government directed officials to impose section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure under which gathering of five or more persons will be banned at night in the state, beginning March 28.
The state government announced a ban on holding of all types of gatherings, including political and religious. It also ordered that restaurants, gardens and malls will remain shut between 8 pm to 7 am beginning Saturday night. People will also not be allowed to visit beaches from 8 pm to 7 am.