India says no plan to extend 21-day lockdown


Vegetable vendors set up their stalls maintaining social distance at an open field during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Mumbai on March 30, 2020. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Vegetable vendors set up their stalls maintaining social distance at an open field during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Mumbai on March 30, 2020. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

INDIAN government on Monday (30) said that there is no immediate plan to extend the 21-day lockdown amid fears that shutdown of businesses across the country to counter the spread of coronavirus may trigger severe economic and social distress.

The clarification by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba came after hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers undertook long journeys from major urban centres on foot to their homes in the last five days, reflecting their struggle for survival due to job losses following the lockdown.

The central government has already directed states to make arrangements for shelter and food for the migrant workers.

In a tweet, the government’s Press Information Bureau said: “There are rumours & media reports, claiming that the Government will extend the #Lockdown21 when it expires. The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless.”

A Group of Minister (GoM) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday carried out a comprehensive review of the situation arising out of the lockdown, including movement of the migrant labourers.

There have been fears that the lockdown may spark severe economic and social distress.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday (29) said the sudden lockdown has created immense “panic” and “confusion”.

He called for steps other than a total lockdown announced by some developed nations to tackle the deadly disease.

Gandhi said the number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is too large to unilaterally shut down all economic activities in the wake of the pandemic.

According to the latest officials figures, over 1,000 people have been infected by the virus and the death toll is 30 in India.