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PM Modi chairs all-party meeting as states appeal to Centre to extend anti-Coronavirus lockdown

PM Modi chairs all-party meeting as states appeal to Centre to extend anti-Coronavirus lockdown

IBNS | @indiablooms | 08 Apr 2020, 06:55 am

New Delhi/IBNS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met the leaders of various political parties amid the appeals by several states to the Centre to extend the 21-day nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of Novel Coronavirus.

The meeting is presently underway.

Congress, the main opposition party, has been represented by senior Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Though Trinamool Congress (TMC), which has a significant number of MPs in Parliament, had earlier refused to attend the meeting, the party's Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay was seen participating in the video conference on Wednesday.

As the positive COVID-19 cases surged and went passed 5,000 in India, at least six states have felt it would be more wise to extend the lockdown which began on Mar 25 and is scheduled to end on Apr 14 midnight.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said he was in favour of the extension of the lockdown to save the lives.

"We can recover from the economic problem. But, we cannot get back lost lives," Rao told media.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, "We can bear the lockdown. We can also revive economy but we cannot get back the lost lives."

Rajasthan, Punjab are also among the states which have favoured the extension of the shut down that has impacted hard on daily wagers and migrant workers.

While experts are fearing that the surge in the number of cases would overwhelm the poor health infrastructure of India, the Modi government has struggled to address the crisis of migrant workers who took to their feet to cross state borders to reach their homes in remote villages or towns.

Despite repeated assurances of sufficient food supply by the Centre and respective state governments, migrant workers were spotted boarding buses in large numbers blowing the idea of social distancing out of the window.

Several migrant workers including their kin have lost their lives in their efforts to reach home during the lockdown which has exempted essential services like grocery shops, pharmacies, banks, ATMs and media.

However, the Centre had earlier ruled out any possibility of the extension of lockdown.

Modi had asked the Chief Ministers to formulate a strategy for an exit from the lockdown in phases ensuring staggered movement of people post Apr 14 midnight.

As per the government update, 5,194 people including 402 cured and 149 cured have been infected with COVID-19 across the states with Maharashtra recording the most (1018) followed by Tamil Nadu (690).