Haryana likely to extend lockdown in some districts, school to stay shut all across

Varinder Bhatia

While the issue of mustard and wheat procurement dominated the discussion among the leaders, sources told The Indian Express that possible extension of lockdown also came up and the CM sought suggestions from all the party leaders.

With the COVID-19 cases continuously rising in Haryana, the possibility of extending the lockdown in the state is gaining more weight. Although the final decision is likely on April 11 after PM Narendra Modi speaks to CMs of all the states, sources said that the lockdown may be extended “at least in some districts”.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today held an all-party meeting through video-conference, Wednesday. While the issue of mustard and wheat procurement dominated the discussion among the leaders, sources told The Indian Express that possible extension of lockdown also came up and the CM sought suggestions from all the party leaders.

“There is a possibility that the lockdown will be extended in the state, but the final decision is likely after Prime Minister holds video conference with all the CMs on April 11. There is a feeling that although shopping malls, multiplexes, cinemas, schools and colleges are likely to remain shut, the manufacturing industry and other establishments may be given some relaxation in some areas,” former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda told The Indian Express.

A senior Haryana government official said: “There are four districts, Nuh, Faridabad, Palwal and Gurgaon that have shown large number of positive cases, while in remaining districts the number is not that high even after all these days. The inter-district borders and inter-state borders may continue to remain closed, but relaxations in other districts may be given.”

Hooda added, “I told the CM that it is the time when everybody should rise above the political ideologies and support the nation. Crop procurement is one of the major issues. The CM has announced approximately 2,000 mandis, but locations are also to be identified. I suggested that schools can be a good choice. Even farmers can use the school premises for storing their harvested crop. I appealed to the CM to provide a significant insurance cover to our health sector employees, right from doctors to the sweepers.”

Another senior officer of the state government said, “To move the economy, certain bold steps are required. The industries will collapse, otherwise and since almost 90 per cent of the labour is in unorganised sector, it will be catastrophic if layoffs begin. The government is examining all the aspects.”

INLD chief Abhay Chautala told The Indian Express, “There was a discussion on extension of lockdown. There was almost a consensus that at least areas that are free of these coronavirus should be given relaxation. At least areas where there is no positive case, those areas should be given adequate relaxations. Home minister Anil Vij said that the government may open a few areas post April 14 and shall assess the impact. Then subsequent decisions will be taken.”

He added: “In fact, there was also a suggestion by JJP’s Nishan Singh to reopen the liquor vends. However, nobody agreed to that.”

Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja said that “government should provide relief to the small scale industries of the state...relief should be declared both for these industries and for labourers too”.

Khattar speaks to religious heads

Khattar on Wednesdy also spoke with heads of various religious sects through video conferencing for about two hours and asked them to appeal to their followers to maintain social distancing and also contribute to the Corona Relief fund.

Govt faces financial crunch

The government is also facing immense financial crunch and is exploring ways to overcome it. “In the last few days, we have lost a revenue of Rs 2300 crore approximately. Another Rs 4000 crore shall be lost this month. We are even facing difficulties in taking care of routine government expenses. Yet, we are making all efforts to feed the poor and needy and ensuring they get at least two meals daily,” Khattar said.

“The numbers are increasing in a few districts. But there are 5-6 districts that are so far untouched by the virus. We need to bring down the number in the remaining districts as well”, Khattar added.