Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the possible spread of the coronavirus in his state once the Centre lifts the ban on inter-state travel imposed under the countrywide lockdown to contain the pandemic, The Indian Express reported.
“If after April 14, trains, air traffic and inter-state road transport gets started in the country, then there are full possibilities that Covid-19 infected people can arrive from other states in the state of Chhattisgarh. The state may face new difficulties,” the chief minister said in his letter.
He requested the prime minister to initiate interstate traffic after “extensive deliberation”, so that “the whole Covid-19 proliferation conditions in the nation can be kept under control”.
Chhattisgarh has recorded only 10 cases of the coronavirus with no deaths so far. Out of these, eight have been discharged after recovering completely, Baghel informed Modi in his letter. “With the implementation of strict measures by the government and the help and support of disciplined people of the state, so far the situation is under control,” he added.
Chhattisgarh was one of the first states to announce a lockdown on March 21, four days before the prime minister announced the three-week countrywide lockdown. When asked for the reason for imposing a lockdown this early, Baghel had said: “We have the Mumbai-Howrah highway cutting across the state and could not have taken a chance.”
Last month, Baghel had said the country is in dire need of a second economic assistance package for those who were excluded from the ambit of the package announced on March 26. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced an economic package to help the poor tide over the impact of the countrywide lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus.
Baghel also alleged the mass displacement of migrants due to the lockdown could have been avoided had Modi consulted the state governments before taking the decision of implementing it.
In another letter to Modi, Baghel suggested that Rs 1,000 a month should be transferred to National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, and workers in the unorganised sector for the next three months. Instead of the promised Rs 500 to women Jan Dhan account holders, he said that Rs 750 must be transferred, adding that the scheme should be extended to men too.