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Government

After May 3, Here's What States With Most 'Red Zone' Districts Are Planning

Once the nationwide lockdown is lifted, it will be up to state governments to decide strategies to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

New Delhi: With just two days to go for the May 3 nationwide lockdown to expire, the Central government is clearly embarking on a strategy of leaving it to the wisdom of the individual states to take the next course of action for lifting public restrictions – based on their vulnerability index, and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Going by the media statements of various chief ministers in the past week, with most seeking an extension to the lockdown, and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his last meeting with the chief ministers, there are enough hints that the lockdown is not going to be lifted fully any time soon. Instead, from May 4 onwards, each state would likely have its own set of restrictions.

Setting the tone for it, Modi had said during the video conference with chief ministers on April 27, “Efforts of the states should be directed towards converting red zones into orange and thereafter to green zones.”

On April 30, after a meeting with the state chief secretaries and health secretaries, Union health ministry secretary Preeti Sudan issued a circular identifying 130 red zones, 284 orange zones and 319 green zones across the country, adding, “This is a dynamic list.” The list would be revised on a weekly basis.

The states which have the maximum red zones are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi respectively. In the orange list, UP yet again tops it, followed by Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Telengana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir among other states.

Here is a state-wise compilation of what we know so far on how the states with a large number of districts marked red zone by the Centre this week are handling the post-May 3 scenario.

PM Narendra Modi interacts with the chief ministers of various States/UTs . Photo: PTI

Uttar Pradesh 

As per the Union health ministry’s list this week, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of red zones at 19. The state government has already announced that no public gathering will be allowed anywhere in the state till June 30. As per news reports, chief minister Adityanath said the situation would be reviewed after that date.

Meanwhile, the state’s border with Delhi has been sealed, restricting the movement of people and vehicles from and to Noida and Ghaziabad districts.

With rising number of cases, the Ghaziabad administration this past week had rescheduled the timings during which shops can remain open. While grocery shops have been allowed to function between 8 am and 4 pm, vegetable vendors can operate only between 8 am and 2 pm until further orders. All construction work has been suspended until May 3 in Noida. In Agra, food delivery by app-based companies has been suspended. Lucknow residents too have been facing trouble in procuring essential goods due to strict rules.

As per news reports, an action plan is being prepared to introduce certain relaxation of the restrictions in the 20 districts termed green zones by the Central government this week.

The government has also decided to bring home the migrant workers stuck in different states as per the Centre’s directive. On April 30, the chief minister urged the workers not to start walking home as arrangements were being made for their transport. As many as ten lakh migrant labourers are estimated to return to Uttar Pradesh from other states. The CM has asked the state officials to keep ready quarantine centres, community kitchens and shelter homes to handle the situation.

Maharashtra

According to the Central health ministry’s tally, Maharashtra has 14 districts categorised as ‘red zones’, while 16 others have been marked orange, and the remaining six districts are green zones.

News reports have said that state’s health minister Rajesh Tope has sought the extension of the lockdown in the most affected cities like Mumbai and Pune until May 18. The state has not allowed any standalone or neighbourhood shop to open in the state. In a televised address on April 26, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said a decision on easing the lockdown would be taken only after May 3.

Tamil Nadu 

Out Tamil Nadu’s 37 districts, 12 have been notified by the Centre as red zones this week. While 24 other districts have been termed orange zones, the southern state has only one district marked as a green zone.

Starting April 28, the state had clamped a total shutdown for four days in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore municipal corporation limits. No grocery shops have been allowed to open in these areas. According to news reports, the total shutdown, however, won’t be extended beyond May 1 in these cities.

On April 30, shops selling essential goods in the rest of the state were allowed to open between 6 am and 5 pm. However, from May 1 onwards, the timing has returned to 6 am and 1 pm.

This past week though, the state government allowed large industrial units, like refineries, steel and cement plants, sugar factories, to begin operating. Besides, irrigation and water conservation work under MGNREGA in rural areas have been allowed to begin. Some government offices have also been allowed to open with 33% of the total staff.

Volunteers serve food to migrant workers from Tamil Nadu during the coronavirus lockdown on April 2, 2020, in Mumbai. Photo: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Roli Srivastava

Delhi 

All eleven districts of Delhi have been categorised as red zones by the Union health ministry for this week. This meant the lockdown is likely to continue in the national capital beyond May 3.

However, the government, early this week, has allowed pathological labs and clinics and veterinary hospitals to operate, and services offered by plumbers, electricians and water purifier repairmen to function, and stores selling school and college books to open. It has also allowed inter-state travelling of health workers, lab technicians and scientists.

No markets or malls will be allowed to function. While it has permitted the opening of neighbourhood and standalone shops following the Union home affairs ministry’s direction, all shops are closed in containment zones.

“We are going through difficult times. We will have to continue our efforts to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections in Delhi,” chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on April 26 during an online media briefing. He was among several chief ministers to have sought an extension of the nationwide lockdown beyond May 3.