Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in a video meeting with state Chief Ministers, said the nationwide coronavirus lockdown may continue in the parts of the country worst affected by the infection.
He also praised the joint efforts of the chief ministers to ensure lockdown measures are followed and added that the lockdown has been helpful to tackle the deadly spread of coronavirus, reported NDTV.
Some nine chief ministers attended the video-conference where five of them said the lockdown should end, while the rest were in favour of extending it for the sake of controlling the spread of Covid-19. The meeting's agenda is to review the extension of the lockdown and a clear exit plan.
The Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry spoke today. From the northeast, the Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Mizoram represented.
Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, urged a staggered exit from the lockdown. He also said, he is open to migrants and students returning to Bihar - a u-turn from his strong objections to what he called "injustice to lockdown". But according to sources, he then asked the centre to issue new notification facilitating interstate movement of vehicles and people.
Assam and other northeastern states supported a phased withdrawal from the lockdown too.
The region is least affected by COVID-19 infections and is keen to open for business.
The states supported restricted movement within the state. They also suggested keeping the borders closed and also blocking inter-state movement.
The chief ministers also discussed the responses to the partial relaxations granted on April 20 to certain sectors, the situation regarding test kits and the protection of doctors.
The states demanded a financial package from the centre. They also discussed an amendment to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act to cap fiscal deficit, which is likely to increase as vast sums of money will be needed for relief and stimulus for the global pandemic. Almost all the large states have put forward their views in the earlier meetings.
Sources said the centre wished to give all states - large or small - a chance to speak. But unlike last time, when extension of the lockdown was discussed, they have not been required to provide their demands in writing.
In the first meeting on March 20, eight states had put forward their views on containment of the virus, upgrade of medical infrastructure and training local health resources.
In the second meet on April 2, around eight states had discussed an exit strategy once the lockdown ends.
In the third meeting on April 11, at least 13 Chief Ministers had asked for an extension of the lockdown.
Bihar and Odisha are among the states which have a low rate of transmission. Meghalaya has 11 active cases of coronavirus, Mizoram has one.