Bihar govt seeks extension of lockdown till end of May

Patna, May 15 (PTI) The Bihar government has urged the Centre to extend the nationwide lockdown till the end of this month besides keeping air and rail traffic, other than Shramik Special trains, suspended during the period, sources said here on Friday.

The suggestions were made in response to the Centre inviting feedbacks from the states for framing guidelines for the fourth phase of the lockdown which shall come into force from May 18, they said.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hinted that the lockdown which is to end on May 17, would be extended but with revised guidelines to enable resumption of economic activities for which his government has announced Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package.

'The state governments communication is broadly on the lines of the views expressed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the video conference meeting with the prime minister a day prior to the nationwide address,' a source said.

They said the state government has sought extension of lockdown and suspension of movement of trains other than the Shramik Specials and general passenger flights in view of the situation that has emerged following the return of migrants to Bihar from across the country on a large scale.

'The state government said it has been scrupulously adhering to the lockdown guidelines and, as stated by the chief minister, will continue to do so. Nonetheless, the aforementioned restrictions ought to remain in place till the end of this month by when the dust is expected to settle on the (migrant) influx,' a source said.

Bihar is making efforts to ensure that the process of return of migrants is over within a week and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has requested the Centre to run additional train rakes to Bihar for the purpose, besides directing officials to coordinate with other states to make arrangements for those who wish to come back by road.

Kumar has also sought more testing kits from the Centre so that the number of samples tested per day on an average could be significantly increased from 1,800 to 10,000.

There has been a spurt in COVID-19 cases in Bihar since the beginning of this month when the return of migrants gained momentum with the plying of Shramik Special trains.

About 2.5 lakh people have returned by train since May 4 and the number of migrants who have tested positive since then stands at 358, the state health department said.

Bihar has reported 1,012 coronavirus cases so far, of whom seven have died. PTI NAC SNS NSD NSD ANB ANB