Ahead of April 27 date with PM:
On lockdown and the virus
Setting a date on April 27. This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done with Chief Ministers of different States and the agenda is clear enough. Discuss the ongoing lockdown and the coronavirus situation in the respective States. Clear that the Prime Minister wants to be kept in the loop and what better way than to get it first hand from the Chief Ministers, during the scheduled video conference. The question is, will the scheduled video conference turn out to be another exercise in which the Chief Ministers will call for an extension of the lockdown which is to be lifted on May 4 ? Only time will tell, but it would be interesting to see how the different Chief Ministers respond. Remember before the Nationwide lockdown was extended to May 3, a number of Chief Ministers had batted for an extension of the lockdown and the Prime Minister had followed suit. That the number of infections and the number of deaths continue to rise has only gone to add credence to the line of thought that an extension of the lockdown cannot be ruled out but there could be a difference to the approach if at all it is extended. May not be surprising if the lockdown continues with renewed vigour in parts where the infection rate is high, such as in Maharastra and Delhi while in some parts of the country such as the North Eastern States, where the infection rate is low, the lockdown may be further eased. Only Assam has reported infections in the double digit with 35 having tested positive so far. Formally tagging the States based on the number of infections and deaths is a possibility and in such a case, Manipur and the other North Eastern States, barring Assam and Meghalaya, may come under States with low infections.
Chief Minister N Biren must have started taking the needed feedbacks from the people and departments concerned on what points to highlight during the scheduled video conference with the Prime Minister on April 27. Will the Chief Minister vote for an extension of the lockdown, satisfied with the partial lifting of the same in some sectors, or will it be deemed fit to place the point that the lockdown should be lifted with respect to Manipur is the question. Only time will tell, but let it be clear that the threat from the virus still stands and with no vaccine in sight yet, no one can afford to let the guard down. How about flights ? Will the Centre allow resumption of domestic flights ? What steps has the State Government taken up to cope with the situation if and when domestic flights resume ? Reports coming in have said that the State Government has started studying what steps ought to be taken up if and when many stranded Manipuris start returning home once the lockdown is lifted and flight services resume. Keeping them under isolation wards for a specified period is certainly needed and this is something which the State Government is reported to be studying and while this is welcome serious thoughts also ought to be given on the manner in which incoming passengers are screened at the airport as well as at the entry points of the State by land route such as Mao, Jiribam etc. It is also important to beef up the arrangements at the Indo-Myanmar border to check cross border movement. This last point may be highlighted to the Prime Minister during the April 27 video conference.