[avatar user=”Raymond” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” target=”_blank”]RAYMOND KHARMUJAI[/avatar]
The Meghalaya government has decided to conditionally relax shutdown after April 14, but overall public opinion in the state still leans towards continuing total closure for some more time.
Meghalaya is not still been infected by the contagious COVID-19, but general opinion is cautious and is for the continuation of the lockdown till a decisive stage is reached in the battle against the deadly virus.
Citizens, civil society groups from Garo Hills are against the total lifting of the lockdown after April 14 saying that it would once again put the people at risk of contracting the virus after all efforts being made by the people to stay safe.
Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh on Friday wrote to Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma urging him to extend the lock-down period till the end of the month in view of the surging COVID-19 positive cases across the country.
The Meghalaya Cabinet had on Monday decided to re-open all government offices in the state from April 15 with the end of the nationwide lockdown, but education institutions will remain closed until April 30.
Over 100 samples tested at the North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) laboratory for COVID-19 infection so far have all yielded negative results.
Emerging out from the video conference room after his virtual interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister said that 99 per cent of the chief ministers from across the country were in support of extending the lock-down with certain relaxations.
This is third time that Modi had interacted with Chief Ministers of States via virtual world on the COVID-19 pandemic which is surging day by day.
“Ninety-nine percent of the Chief Ministers have suggested that the lock down should continue. It would mean that no inter-state movements will continue and the overall lock-down process shall continue,” Sangma said.
He said that the stand of the Meghalaya government was similar to that of other states in that inter-state movement be completely stopped and economic activities at local level be allowed.
“I was very happy that all the Chief Ministers and even Prime Minister who spoke at the end were in line with what Meghalaya had decided. There was an agreement that there should be a lockdown in the sense of movement of people from outside,” he said
“Meghalaya can function in isolation where agriculture and small construction works and even small factories are allowed to function by ensuring that there are no labourers and individuals coming from outside,” Sangma added.
He, however, said that there were also some indications from the interaction that certain activities which are very necessary for day to day economic activity, especially for the poorer section of the society may need to be relaxed.
“We have been very clear on our stand from day one that life will not go on as normal. There will be restrictions but there will be easing out of certain restrictions,” Sangma said
“What we are trying to do is allow Meghalaya to function to some extent in an isolation mode. So, this will be Meghalaya in isolation. Therefore, we may have construction work going on but it will be labourers and people from the state only. No outsiders will be allowed to come in. No inter-state movement will take place,” he said
Assuring that health is going to be the priority of the government, Sangma said, “We are not going to take any chance when it comes to the issue of health, especially in this current situation that the state, the country and the world is facing.”
“We will have to see the economic impact and livelihood issues that are there for the common people. Therefore, we have to balance health concerns and address economic issues that are being faced by the people,” he added.
Independent journalist and commentator based in Shillong