Amid a sharply rising Covid curve, with migrant workers starting to crowd railway stations and bus terminals in scenes reminiscent of the days following last year’s nationwide lockdown, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reached out to industry associations and leaders of India Inc to reassure them that the government has no plan to impose another such lockdown, and will instead focus on creating small containment zones.
Sitharaman also conveyed to them that PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were in touch with states, and were monitoring the situation regarding availability of oxygen, essential medicines and medical facilities.
A senior official with one of the industry associations told The Indian Express that the Minister’s Sunday call was aimed at calming the nerves of workers employed with small and big manufacturing units and to reassure them that the government had no plans to suspend public transport.
“The finance minister called and said that there is no plan of a nationwide lockdown and that the focus would be on creating small containment zones to stop the spread,” the official said.
Besides calling the industry associations and India Inc leaders, Sitharaman is also learnt to have sought inputs from the industry to address their concerns.
With Covid cases having risen sharply over the last couple of weeks, Maharashtra announced a janta curfew last week and several other states, including Delhi, announced weekend lockdowns.
Last year, after the government announced a complete lockdown in a bid to contain the growing Covid cases across the country, many migrant workers were left stranded and had no option but to hit the road with their families.
This time round, the Centre has been emphasising that it doesn’t see a complete, nationwide lockdown as the way forward.
On Tuesday, Sitharaman had said, “Even with the second wave, we are very clear that we are not going in for lockdowns in a big way. We don’t want to totally arrest the economy.”