Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a video conference with chief ministers on Monday on ways to strengthen the COVID-19 containment strategy and stepping up of economic activities in a calibrated manner as the 54-day nationwide lockdown nears an end.
While some CMs suggested reopening economic activity in phases, others pitched for the extension of the coronavirus lockdown, but with a carefully crafted exit strategy
Here is a look at what chief ministers told PM Modi.
Barring containment zones, economic activities should be allowed to resume in the national capital, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said during a video conference chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with CMs of different states.
"During the interaction, the chief minister said economic activities should be allowed to resume in Delhi, except in COVID-19 containment zones," a source told PTI.
The government has already demanded from the Centre that all 11 districts of Delhi be not treated as 'red zones' so that more economic activities are allowed in the national capital, sources said.
They said that the government wants that in Delhi 'red zones' be identified as per municipal wards instead of districts.
Recently, the Union health ministry classified the entire national capital, which has 11 districts, as red zone. The city has 272 wards.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show "specific and concrete direction" on the ongoing lockdown.
Thackeray said that deployment of the Central forces will give rest to police personnel in Maharashtra who are exhausted due to COVID-19 duty.
"Show us specific and concrete direction on lockdown, the states will implement the same," an official statement quoted Thackeray as telling the prime minister.
Thackeray also requested Modi to start local trains in Mumbai for essential services staff working in the city, it said.
Maharashtra has so far reported total 23,401 COVID-19 cases, the highest in the country, and 868 deaths, including 14,355 cases in Mumbai with 528 fatalities.
"We need some help from the Central forces so that our police staff can take some rest. The staff is currently exhausted. We can not let them fall sick," he said.
Thackeray also demanded medical facilities of various Central agencies, such as the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, the Mumbai Port Trust, located in the state as part of a preparedness to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
"It will help in reducing stress on our administration and people," Thackeray said.
The CM told the PM about the arrangements made by the state government for food and shelter of some 5.5 lakh migrant labourers.
"We are coordinating efficiently with other states to send back migrant labourers," Thackeray said.
He also demanded resumption of local train services for those employed in essential services.
"Local trains should be operated for those people who are allowed to go to work in the Mumbai region. They can board these trains only using their ID cards," he said.
Thackeray also sought the help of the prime minister in disbursing crop loan to farmers.
"The prime minister could give necessary instructions to banks through RBI for disbursing crop loans to farmers who could not get the benefits of the loan waiver scheme of the state government. Some 10 lakh farmers in Maharashtra would benefit out of it (if RBI allows such disbursal)," he said.
Thackeray said Maharashtra suffered a Rs 35,000 crore setback on GST revenue due to the lockdown. "The state should get its rebate at the earliest," he said.
Thackeray further said that pharmaceutical companies in the state need some kind of encouragement for manufacturing medicines to treat coronavirus patients.
"The Centre can set up a task force of expert doctors like Maharashtra has done. The central task force will be able to guide our doctors from time to time," Thackeray said.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said migrant workers coming to the state in huge numbers was a “challenge” for the government, but it was dealing with the issue effectively by launching a scheme of initiatives for them.
"So far, Uttar Pradesh has sent more than 9 lakh workers to home quarantine. Out of this, 7 lakh workers have completed their home quarantine. We are preparing to give them jobs," an official spokesman quoted Adityanath as saying.
"In the last four days, more than 3 lakh people have come to Uttar Pradesh through buses and trains. More than 10 lakh people will arrive in the near future. We have brought in labour reforms to employ 20 lakh people in the future," he said.
The chief minister informed the prime minister that under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, 2.34 crore farmers have so far received two installments of Rs 2,000 each.
"Under the Jan Dhan Yojana, Rs 500 has been deposited twice in the accounts of women. Under the Ujjwala scheme, 1.47 crore people have received LPG cylinders twice," he said.
Commenting on the labour reforms adopted by the northern state, Adityanath said, "It was necessary to implement labour reforms. These will be implemented only where new units will be set up. Besides, it will also be applicable in those old units where new labourers are being employed.”
"The industries located in Green Zone and Orange Zone will be run according to the central government's guidelines,” he said.
In Uttar Pradesh, the CM said, more than 15 lakh labourers are currently employed.
"We have started emergency services in hospitals. Instructions have been given to start emergency services with Ayushman Bharat Scheme in 660 private hospitals all over the state. We have also started
telemedicine services,” he added.
The priest-turned-politician also informed the PM that foodgrains were distributed to 3.32 crore card holders under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana in April.
“On May 1, foodgrains were distributed to 13.28 crore people on 3.19 crore ration cards. This includes distribution of free foodgrains on 95 lakh ration cards,” Adityanath said, citing the works done by the state.
He added that two months pension amounting to Rs 871.46 crore was released to a total of 86,71,781 beneficiaries under various pension schemes.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar favoured extending the COVID 19-induced lockdown till the end of May, underscoring that it would help the state bring under control the situation that has arisen with natives returning on a large scale, officials said.
Kumar made it clear that the state will be in agreement" with whatever decision the Centre took with respect to the lockdown but extending it would be helpful.
He also highlighted various relaxations the state had offered during the lockdown for easing the hardships faced by people and for resumption of economic activities.
Thanking the prime minister for running 'Shramik Special' trains to facilitate the journey back home of migrant workers, students and pilgrims from places where they had got stuck following the lockdown, Kumar said 1.14 lakh people have come back to Bihar by as many as 96 trains.
He also said that 179 trains are likely to arrive in the state during the week, and urged the Centre to run additional rakes so that the return of all migrants could be completed in the next 7-8 days.
Kumar said there was a surge in incidence of COVID-19 following the influx of people from other states and abroad, with the number of confirmed cases crossing the 700 mark.
We have conducted random testing of 1,900 returnees, of whom 148 have tested positive, he noted.
He said the state's testing capacity needed to be enhanced drastically.
"On an average 1,800 samples are being tested daily and we want to raise it to 10,000. We hope that our requisition for additional RT-PCR machines, and the kits used in these as well as RNA extraction are fulfilled at the
earliest," Kumar was quoted by officials as having told the meeting.
He also said the state had requested for 100 ventilators.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan suggested to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that states should have the "flexiblity" in changing lockdown guidelines and allowing public and Metro rail services by following social distancing norms, except in red zones.
Vijayan also suggested that antibody test be conducted on expatriates before they arrive in Thiruvananthapuram from various countries.
"Kerala has a substantial population of non-residents staying abroad. Some of them are coming back in special flights and many more are likely to come back.
Whenever they are transported by special flights, they should be subjected to antibody test prior to boarding", he said, adding there was a possibility of many travellers getting infected if this was not done.
"We are already facing a situation wherein five positive cases were reported from passengers who came to the state in chartered flights last week", he said.
As states were facing challenges of COVID-19 in different degrees, each one should have the "flexiblity" in making reasonable changes in lockdown related guidelines within their respective jurisidiction, he said.
After assessing the situation prevailing in a state, the respective states should have the flexiblity to allow public transport, subject to social distancing norms and restrictions within districts, he said.
The chief minister suggested that Metro rail transport be allowed in cities other than in Red zones, subject to similar restrictions.
Three wheeler transport can also be allowed subject to capacity restrictions after considering the situation in a district by the state governments, he said.
Vijayan also wanted states to be allowed to operate industrial and trade establishments, taking into consideration the ground situation, but with restrictions like social distancing in areas, except containment zones.
On the lines of Shramik special trains to take migrant workers back to their states, Vijayan also wanted special trains to bring back Keralites stranded in various states.
Citing increasing COVID-19 cases in the state, chief minister K Palaniswami came out against resumption of passenger train and air services in the state till May 31 and sought more PCR kits from the Centre to ramp up the ongoing aggressive testing.
"We know from media that regular train service to Chennai (from Delhi) and from Chennai will commence from May 12. As the positive cases in Chennai are showing an increasing trend, don't permit train services up to 31.5.2020, in my state," the chief minister told Modi.
"I request you not to begin regular air services till 31.5.2020," the release quoted Palaniswami as having further said.
As on Sunday, a total of 2,43,037 samples had been tested in the state and 7,204 were found positive, he said.
The railways has announced resumption of a limited number of passenger services after an almost a 50-day hiatus since the national lockdown came into force in March.
As many as 15 trains are to run from Tuesday on the Rajdhani route from Delhi to all the major cities, including Chennai, in the country.
Tamil Nadu, especially its capital city, has been witnessing a steady spike in fresh cases in the past several days after the wholesale Koyambedu vegetable market here emerged as a major hotspot.
Against this background, Palaniswami told the prime minister that presently, 59,610 contacts and suspected people were under active quarantine in the state.
"Effective medical treatment has ensured that the death rate is only 0.67 per cent and 1,959 patients have been discharged which works out to 27 per cent discharge rate. So far, the state has been maintaining the lowest death rate in India," he said.
Briefing Modi on the testing for coronavirus, he said the state has a capacity to screen 13,000 samples a day.
"I am informed that maximum tests (in the country) are being done by Tamil Nadu," he said adding the state was continuing the strategy of aggressive targeted testing.
He sought more number of PCR testing kits from the Centre.
Also, he referred to the requests he had made during the earlier video conference interactions such as Rs 2,000 crore special grant to the state to enhance available medical equipment.
Palaiswami said the state has also sought nod for additional borrowing of 33 per cent above the permitted level for 2019-20 be allowed for 2020-21 as well and release of pending GST compensation.
"I also request an ad-hoc grant of Rs 1,000 crore from the National Diasaster Relief Fund immediately to procure medical, protective materials and for the movement of migrant labourers, the cost of which has been borne entirely by the state government," he said.
He wanted the Chief Ministers Public Relief Fund to be made eligible to receive Corporate Social Responsibility contributions under Schedule-III of the Companies Act, 2013.
West Bengal is being "unnecessarily targeted" over its handling of COVID-19, chief minister Mamata Banerjee told Prime Minister Narendra Modi, insisting she wants to fight the pandemic jointly with the Centre, TMC sources said.
She also demanded that the Centre formulate a "clear strategy" to fight the disease, sources in the state's ruling party said.
Banerjee highlighted the "contradictions" in the Centre's approach to tackling the outbreak.
"On one hand the Centre wants the lockdown to be enforced strictly, and on the other it is resuming train services and reopening land borders," sources quoted her as having told the meeting while presenting her views on whether the lockdown should be extended beyond May 17.
She suggested that states be allowed to decide on which sectors to open and which to keep shut keeping in mind the situation on the ground.
We want to fight the pandemic alongside the central government. But Bengal has been unnecessarily targeted politically. Instead of shifting the onus on the states, the Centre should come out with a clear strategy on the way
forward, she told the meeting.
The chief minister also asked the centre to release the legitimate financial dues to states.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh pitched for the extension of the coronavirus lockdown, but with a carefully crafted exit strategy backed by economic empowerment of states to save lives and secure livelihood.
The Punjab CM said in view of ‘escalating' virus cases, the continuation of the lockdown was needed.
According to a release, he said the states should be given greater flexibility in micro-planning.
The decision on designating red, orange/yellow and green zones should be left to the states, which are more cognizant of the ground realities, he said.
The exit strategy should consider and focus on fiscal and economic empowerment of the states, which are responsible for real action directly impinging upon the livelihood and social health of the common man, said the chief minister.
The chief minister said micro, small and medium enterprises should be allowed to function in red zones with proper safeguards.
Amarinder also demanded an urgent financial assistance to states to meet at least 33 per cent of their committed liabilities, along with revenue grants for three months to meet the shortfall in revenue and fund expenditure on tackling coronavirus.
The chief minister told the prime minister that Punjab was losing Rs 3,000 crore per month in revenue with the state power corporation's losses pegged at Rs 30 crore daily.
He reiterated the demand for an immediate release of the Punjab's GST arrears of Rs 4,365.37 crore.
The chief minister said in view of a complete change in the economic situation due to the pandemic, the 15th Finance Commission should review its report for the current year and recommend devolution of funds for five years beginning from April 1 next year, instead of the current year.
Amarinder urged the PM Modi to increase the borrowing limit under the Financial Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2005 from 3 per cent to 4 per cent of state GDP to enable states to meet their fiscal liabilities.
The chief minister also called for a national strategy on testing, saying he has already written to the prime minister to direct central institutions in Chandigarh and Punjab to increase their testing capacity.
Punjab has so far done 40,962 tests with the current rate of 2,500 tests per day, which the state government has planned to scale up to 6,000 tests by the month-end, he said.
The Punjab government has been fighting the coronavirus battle from the front and had successfully brought down the mortality rate in the state to 1.8 per cent, the CM said.
The rate of increase in cases is falling after having risen sharply in the past 10 days due to a large number of people returning from other states testing positive for the infection, he said.
He expressed confidence that the situation will improve in the coming week.
With four containment zones, Punjab currently has 1,823 cases (2.75 per cent of all-India cases), with 31 deaths, translating into the mortality rate of 1.70 per cent, he told the PM.
The CM requested for an early announcement of MSP on paddy and a bonus on non-burning of stubble.
Amarinder Singh said Punjab has procured 115 lakh MT of wheat with proper social distancing and hygiene protocols in place.
In terms of inbound movement of stranded people, the chief minister said around 56,000 persons from Punjab stuck in other states have registered with his government while around 20,000 Indian nationals returning from other countries.
The state government has made elaborate arrangements for their quarantine and testing, he said.
Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to resume passenger train services at this juncture, saying allowing them would lead to movement of people and pose problems in testing them for COVID-19 and quarantining.
Rao observed that the impact of COVID-19 has been more in major cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, an official release said.
"Chief Minister Sri K Chandrashekhar Rao has urged Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi not to revive the passenger train services, which were stopped as part of preventive measures to contain spread of coronavirus in the country," it said.
Rao told Modi that resumption of passenger train services at this juncture would lead to movement of people from one destination to another.
Nobody knows who is going from where to where.It is not possible to conduct tests on everyone. It is also difficult to put all those who travelled by trains under quarantine. Hence, passengers trains should not be allowed to ply, he said.
Rao also strongly favoured state governments allowing migrant workers to their native places, besides rescheduling the loans of states and raising Fiscal /Responsibility and Budget Management limits.
"All the state governments should act with humanity as far as migrant workers' issue is concerned. We are a country with sentiments.
The workers came leaving behind their children and parents in their native places. They would like to be with their family members. If they are not allowed to do so, there will be unnecessary trouble," he said.
Stating that operating Shramik special trains was a good decision, he said the Telangana government was sending back migrants who wished to leave.
Some of them had also come back, as seen when a large group returned to Telangana from Bihar by train, he said.