Four southern chief ministers term Centre’s nod for inter-state travel ill-advised, Kerala CM disagree

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The chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka expressed reservations on allowing inter-state transport, be it rail or air, and wanted to be consulted before a decision is taken while Kerala CM said flight services could be resumed with special guideline.

Most chief ministers sought authority to decide zoning of districts and flexibility to modify lockdown guidelines within their jurisdiction in the fifth meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to discuss the road ahead after the end of the third phase of the lockdown on May 17.

Several CMs made the point that as people implementing the measures on the ground, states are more attuned to the actual situation and thus while it is alright for the Centre to share the broad criteria for classification of districts, the actual categorisation should be left to them. Many also said there were flaws in the Centre’s list.

While most states demanded further easing to resume economic activities, they were undecided about completely lifting the lockdown on May 17, said a report in Indian Express.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa wanted to do away with the district-wise red, orange and green zones, and instead have only strictly cordoned containment zones. In non-containment zones, he said, commercial activities including public transport should be allowed.

Yeddyurappa said all domestic and international travel should not be permitted at least till the end of May. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao backed him, urging the Prime Minister not to resume the passenger train services.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswamy also expressed reservations on allowing inter-state transport, be it rail or air, and wanted to be consulted before a decision is taken.

However, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was of the view that domestic flight services could be resumed with special guidelines, except from the containment zones. He wanted Medical tests could be conducted at the airports and those with symptoms should not be allowed to travel.

Vijayan also sought powers to decide on lockdown guidelines after assessing the prevailing situation in the state. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wanted revival of economic activities in many more sectors to restore normalcy.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitisk Kumar, in fact, said starting rail services “was a mistake” and that his opinion should have been taken since he was a “former Railways Minister”.

Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana and West Bengal were of the view that the lockdown which came into effect on March 25, should be extended.

At the end of the marathon six-hour meeting, the Prime Minister asked chief ministers to share a broad strategy on how they would want to deal with the lockdown regime in their particular states by May 15.

“I want states to make a blue print on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown,” he told them (with inputs from agencies)

Image Credit: ANI

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