Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday suggested to the Centre to lift the lockdown and confine it only to the red zones which have reported a larger number of Covid-19 positive cases.
On the other hand, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao pitched for extension of the nationwide lockdown for two more weeks to ensure that the Covid-19 situation remains under control.
Both Jagan and KCR expressed their divergent views during the video conference held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with all the chief ministers of the state.
Jagan said the continuance of the lockdown would have serious long-term impact on the state economy and the lives of common people. “While I support the steps being taken by the Centre to contain the Covid-19 situation, I also feel that the wheel of economy should continue to run, if not with full speed, but to the extent of providing basic necessities to people,” he said.
Several crucial sectors like agriculture, aquaculture and industries will suffer heavily resulting in large scale unemployment. Out of 1,03,986 industrial units in the state, only 7,250 units are running and the distribution network has been badly hit due to complete halting of rail and road transport systems.
“Millions of workers will not get salaries due to lack of industrial operations and the revenues of the state will see a steep fall, as a result of which it cannot implement any development and welfare schemes,” the Andhra chief minister said.
Jagan pointed out that out of 676 mandals (revenue blocks) in the state, 37 mandals are in red zone, another 44 in orange zone and the remaining 595 mandals are in green zone. “I suggest that the lockdown should be confined only to the red zone mandals,” he said.
He also pointed out that places of mass gatherings like malls, cinema halls, and places of worship, public transport and educational institutions could continue to be in lockdown. “In other places, steps should be taken to ensure that people maintain social distance,” he said.
The Telangana chief minister said at a time when the entire country was together fighting against the Sars-Cov2 virus, there should be no let-up in the spirit. “The lockdown has helped contain the spread of the virus to a large extent and there is no other way but to extend it for another two weeks to flatten the curve,” he said.
KCR, however, appealed to the Prime Minister to see that food processing industries run without any hurdles and to ensure that farmers did not face losses and the supply chain of essential commodities would continue. “Steps should be taken to run rice mills, oil mills and other agro-based industries,” he said.
He also called for linking agriculture with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme for at least two months to provide wages to agriculture labourers, so that it would reduce the wage burden on the farmers.
He also suggested distribution of three-month quota of food grains to ration card holders at a time, so that it would free the warehouses to accommodate new arrival of food grains from the markets.
The Telangana chief minister also recommended release of more funds to the states to the extent of five per cent of the GSDP by adopting “quantitative easing” method so that the states could get out of the financial crisis.
He appealed to the Centre to take initiatives in extending a moratorium on loan repayments by the states for a period of at least six weeks and increase the borrowing limit of the states by raising the cap of FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management) limit from three per cent to five per cent of the GSDP.