Amid the Coronavirus lockdown, implemented to arrest the spread of COVID-19 outbreak, which is going to come to an end on May 3, air and train services may not start even after this 40-day hiatus, which could have brought some relief to people stranded in different parts of the country. However, the government may make arrangements for the migrant labourers so that they could be sent to their native places.
According to reports, during rail and air travel social distancing is difficult to maintain.
NDTV reported that according to sources the airlines operating in the country have been asked to stop booking after May 3.
Although, the flag carrier airline of India, Air India opened up international bookings for public for international flights from June 1, 2020 and bookings on select domestic routes from May 4, 2020.
Yesterday, a meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) over COVID-19 was held at Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence as the lockdown relaxations in non-hotspot zones comes into effect on Monday. Attendees expressed concern over resuming trains and flights according to the sources. And the final decision on this is going to be taken after discussion from the Union Health Ministry.
“There were no specific dates discussed about when air and rail travel will start, is perhaps fair to say that it will take time. It will certainly go beyond May 3. In fact, it will be perhaps the last thing that is allowed,” Hindustan Times quoted one official who attended the meeting as saying.
According to News 18 another minister was quoted as saying that during the meeting they also discussed that special trains could be run so that the migrants who are stranded could travel back to their destinations. “It could be a non-stop train from Thiruvananthapuram to Bhubaneswar for example,” he said.
All GoM members who attended the meeting on Saturday had felt the need to reiterate an appeal to fellow Indians to observe strict social distancing norms and refrain from participating in mass prayers or religious congregations.
Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani and Dharmendra Pradhan were among the attendees. Also in attendance were Prahlad Joshi, Gajendra Singh Shekawat, Hardeep Puri, Ram Vilas Paswan and G Kishan Reddy.
This was the fifth time that this Group of Ministers had met since a lockdown was imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on March 24 to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry has released a new list of services and activities which are being allowed to open from Monday.
The exemption will be applicable from April 20, in those areas of the country where the effect of coronavirus is negligible, or which are less affected areas.
One such list was tweeted by Union Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. This includes healthcare, agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and animal husbandry.
Prasad has said that in some cases the government has given exemptions, and the list has been released. However, these services will not be allowed in the Containment Zones.
The government has exempted projects and activities related to co-operative credit societies, non-banking financial institutions, water supply, electricity and communication in rural areas.
Apart from this, the government has also said that bamboo, coconut, betel nut, cocoa, spices cultivation, harvesting, processing, packaging, fruit and vegetable carts, shops selling sanitary items, grocery and ration shops, dairy and milk booths, poultry, Shops selling meats, fish and fodder, electricians, IT repairs, plumbers, motor mechanics, carpenters, couriers, DTH and cable services are allowed with certain restrictions.
The e-commerce companies have been asked to start work from April 20 but will have to get necessary clearance for delivery vehicles.
Data work and call centres for the government activities, offices with IT and related services have also been approved. But the condition is that they should not have more than 50 per cent staff.
Activities will also be increased on highways from Monday. Motor mechanic shops and dhabas will also open on the highway for truckers with some restrictions.
The rural area is being given huge relief. Work in brick kilns and food processing has been approved in the villages. Cold storage and warehouse service will begin.
The fishing business will also be started, which will allow fish feeding, maintenance, processing, packaging, marketing and sales. Hatchery and Commercial Aquarium will also open.
Work under MNREGA has also come under exemption from restrictions.
Construction work on roads, irrigation, building, renewable energy and all kinds of industrial projects outside the city will also start from Monday. It has also been said that if a construction project is to be started in an urban area, the labourers should be available on site for this.
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus cases in India crossed the 15,000-mark on Sunday to stand at 15,712, including 507 deaths and 2,230 recoveries, according to Health Ministry data.