Can Assam Consider Easing itself from the Nationwide Lockdown?
GUWAHATI: A thought process on Assam easing its lockdown from 1st April is gaining traction after the Sarbanada Sonowal-led BJP government in the state announced easing of lockdown restrictions in sectors of tea and farming.
Into the fifth day of the nationwide lockdown, Dispur eased the lockdown by allowing plucking of green tea leaves from April and resumption of work at production units of rice and flour mills.
The Assam cabinet, which held its meeting on Monday, also announced a COVID-19 package which decided to allow agriculture and farming activities with necessary protection from April 1 onwards.
These sectors were closed down after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown on Wednesday last.
In a statement, the state government stated that that package will encompass over 70 lakh people. “58 lakh people under National Food Security Act (NFSA) will get free rice, non-card holders of NFSA will get Rs 1,000. People in the tribal dominated areas will also get Rs 1000,” read the statement.
Notably, another state in India, Telengana, had said that it might become Covid-19-free by April 7 if no new cases emerge.
“We cannot lift the lockdown even if there are no Covid-19 cases in the state by April 7. We shall follow the central guidelines till everything in the country turns normal,” Telengana Chief Minister KCR Chandrasekhar had told media.
In Assam fortunately, not a single positive case of Covid-19 has been detected till date. Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that if within a week the state doesn’t register any positive case it could be construed that the state is out of danger.
In fact, within the administration in the state, there is a viewpoint that since Assam is more or less insulated from the Coronavirus pandemic, the state should start functioning gradually keeping its borders completely sealed.
“I know we cannot disobey central guidelines and have to keep the lockdown going. But gradually the industrial sectors could be opened which can at least save the economy from going into a tailspin,” a senior state government official said.
In fact, many states, on an increasing basis, are relaxing the norms of the lockdown.
For instance, neighbouring state Meghalaya has issued an order in which will make home delivery of liquor on health grounds.
In the order, the deputy secretary to the Meghalaya government said, “The Meghalaya government has approved home delivery of liquor on health grounds strictly against medical prescriptions issued by the registered medical practitioner. Bonded warehouses may be allowed to sell and provide home delivery of liquor as a special case with immediate effect up to 14th April, 2020 (midnight) until further orders to customers who are 21 years old and above," the statement further added.