Chandigarh, April 19:
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday ruled out any relaxation in the curfew in the state, except as needed to ensure COVID-19 free procurement of wheat, till May 3, when he will again review the situation.
Captain Amarinder ordered strict enforcement of the curfew in all districts by the DCs, with no relaxation or concessions whatsoever even during the Ramzan period beginning this week. He also made it clear that no special curfew passes should be issued to the people on account of Ramzan. The Chief Minister directed the DCs to take firm steps to ensure that there is no crowding at the grocery and other shops selling essentials at this time, and all norms of social distancing are strictly adhered to.
The Chief Minister took the decision after reviewing the current situation with senior officers from the administration and police department.
The decision assumes significance in the backdrop of various relaxations given by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for non-containment zones in the country, effective April 20. However, taking into consideration the ground situation, the Chief Minister is of the firm view that there should be no relaxation, except already announced by his government with respect to harvesting and procurement operations, as well as those relating to operations of certain industries/brick kilns and construction activity, which are housing migrant labourers or have them on-site, according to an official spokesperson.
Amid concerns that the hygiene conditions were not up to the mark in the Mandis, the Chief Minister has also ordered a health audit of these centres, where 1.85 lakh metric tonnes of wheat is expected to arrive till June, when the procurement will come to an end. This will infuse around Rs 35000 crore, including the CCL payment of Rs 26000 crore received from the Centre, into the state economy, thus giving it the much-needed support for fighting the COVID-19 battle effectively.
An official spokesperson said the Chief Minister made it clear that all efforts should be focused, at the moment, on saving lives and on ensuring that the procurement operations are conducted smoothly and in a COVID free environment. Any decision on the way forward would be taken after May 3, taking into account the situation prevailing then and the report of the Expert Committee set up to formulate the state’s exit strategy. The committee is expected to submit its report this week.
Meanwhile, acting on the directives of the Chief Minister, DCs across the state are issuing separate notifications to maintain strict curfew restrictions in their respective districts. Any violations shall invite criminal proceedings under the relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as per these notifications.