New Delhi: Several Union ministers have suggested to Prime Minister's Office that partial resumption of industrial operations should be allowed in companies that can abide by the norms and guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry to deal with COVID-19 spread.
The suggestions were made after PMO sought the opinion of various Union Cabinet Ministers on how to ease the lockdown in a staggered manner without compromising on containment measures taken to fight COVID-19. These suggestions are likely to pave way for Centre's roadmap to ease lockdown in a phased manner.
"If an industry can give a blueprint on facilities they can provide to halt spread of virus, then they should be allowed to operate. If they can show that they have accommodation facilities for workers, quarantine facilities nearby and sanitiser dispensing door, and if they could function with bare minimum staff, they should be allowed to open. It will also lessen the burden on the economy," sources said.
The suggestions given by the ministers to the PMO include recommendations for allowing factories and industries to open with bare minimum staff that fulfils the criteria set for ensuring no spread of the virus and also pledging social distancing at work.
They have also advocated the opening of small and medium enterprises generating employment for migrant labour, with a rider that they should follow government norms regarding coronavirus.
Another source stated that operations like flour mills and brick kilns that can work with following social distancing norm and other health measures, should be allowed to open.
"So, we are working on consolidated consensus. Industries complying with health measures should be allowed. However, the first aim is to contain the disease, " stated another highly placed source.
The suggestions for allowing road construction and industrial work were also made by the ministers in an effort to ease the suffering of migrant workers and labourers in the country and to pick the pace of the work slowly.
"There would be Kumbh celebrations and people would need road to be able to commute. Suggestion has been given that outskirts areas of Uttarakhand and other such places where there is no impact of COVID-19 and where social distancing and other precautions can be taken care of, the government should allow construction of highways, " stated the source.
On Saturday, PM Narendra Modi interacted with the chief ministers of several states who spoke in favour of extension of lockdown. A few states like Maharashtra, Punjab and Odisha have already decided to extend the lockdown.
Also, to kickstart the engine of the economy, suggestions from ministers have poured in on lifting of lockdown in a phased manner.
"The duration of lockdown will be decided by the Prime Minister, although suggestions have been made that those factories that have disinfectant tunnels or hospitals or quarantine facilities near them should be allowed to operate with half of the staff. They should be able to give the blueprint of how social distancing would work in their favour," stated a highly placed source.
Relaxations have already been announced for harvesting the crops on condition that social distancing is followed.
"Suggestions have been made to allow limited operations of public transport and flights after the lockdown is lifted in a phased manner. The suggestions have also come to allow movement of transport after seeking due permission from the government. This would allow people with emergency to travel with government permission," added the source.
In addition to this, ministers are likely to begin sitting in their offices from Monday. "Some would start going to their ministries with bare minimum staff from Monday onwards. There are quite a few who have already been coming to their ministries for either video conferencing or to clear files important to give relief during the lockdown, " added the source.
The 21-days nation-wide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 to fight the spread of novel coronavirus.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.