Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, on Saturday, assured his support to Prime Minister's decision on the extension of lockdown. Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with chief ministers of all states on Saturday via video conference. The meeting is key for the decision on the extension of the 21-day lockdown ending on April 14. To check the spread of coronavirus, PM Modi had on March 25 announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown.
During the course of the PM's interaction with chief ministers across the country, the Andhra Pradesh CM apprised him of the measures taken in the state and the impact of the lockdown on the farming activities in the state. Reddy pointed out that the state is largely agrarian contributing to 35 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) and employing nearly 65 per cent of the workforce. He further apprehended that lakhs of farm-families stare at destitution if the present circumstances continued.
Speaking about the state's COVID-19 strategy, the Chief Minister said 141 clusters have been identified for focused containment measures. He pointed out that of the 676 mandals in the state, 37 are red zones or severely affected areas, and 44 are orange zones which are partially affected.
In all, 81 mandals are categorised as red and orange zones and the remaining mandals are unaffected and denoted as green zones.
Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab and West Bengal have officially extended the lockdown, several other states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana, Delhi, Tamil Nadu are mulling to extend the lockdown, atleast till end of April. Some other states like Chhatisgarh, Meghalaya, Kerala, which have not seen a rapid increase in cases, have preferred a selective lockdown, relaxing curfew in most parts and limiting lockdown to COVID-19 hotspots. Most states have also readied exit-plans in case the Centre does not announce a nationwide lockdown post-April 14.
PM Modi too has hinted at extension of lockdown for 2 weeks, but the Centre is yet to confirm the same. PM stressed that the next three-four weeks will be critical to determine the impact of steps taken till now to curb the spread of the virus, suggesting specific measures for agriculture and allied sector including modification of APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) laws to facilitate sale of farm produce. India's current COVID-19 tally is at 7529, with 6634 active cases and 242 deaths.
(With Inputs from Agencies)