‘PM never asked us’: Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren on declaration of 21-day lockdown

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Published: April 7, 2020 3:07 PM

Jharkhand is among the poorest states in the country and majority of its population live in the rural area. The tribal state is home to 3.20 crore people. The state has seen four coronavirus positive cases so far.

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. (File Photo PTI)

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not consult the chief ministers before announcing a nationwide lockdown for 21 days on March 24 amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the country. Today is the 13th day of the 21-day pan-India lockdown announced by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation.

“A nationwide lockdown was announced by PM Narendra Modi and we were never asked,” he told The Indian Express, adding that “the PM now wants the opinion of Chief Ministers on exit strategy”. The lockdown will end on April 14 and the central government has so far maintained that it has no plan to extend it.

Soren said that the officials are deliberating on it, but added that the lockdown will be lifted only after the satisfaction that there was no risk to human lives.

“We are deliberating on it and only when we are satisfied will we lift the lockdown (in the state)…” the daily quoted him as saying in an interview.

Soren also spoke about the challenges the state will face once the lockdown is lifted. He said that around 6 lakh labourers will come to the state once the lockdown ends and the “influx will not be in anyone’s control”.

He called for spreading awareness among the public about coronavirus. He, however, noted that rural areas comprise more than 80% of Jharkhand and those areas are already isolated and the population is not dense.

“The only workable solution with us right now is to make people aware of the COVID-19. And we have to be ready with all medical facilities,” he said.

Speaking about the financial burden on Jharkhand as a result of the lockdown, the CM said that the state has a liability of MGNREGA funds. The government, he said, has already spent Rs 600 crore through revolving funds.

“We received Rs 102 crore recently from the Centre but it needs to clear the dues as soon as possible. We had GST dues and we have received a letter that the Centre will release GST compensation of Rs 863 crore,” he said.

The Chief Minister added that apart from all budgetary allocation, conservative estimates suggest that the state will need more than Rs 10,000 crore to deal with the large influx of people.

Jharkhand is among the poorest states in the country and majority of its population live in the rural area. The tribal state is home to 3.20 crore people. The state has seen four coronavirus positive cases so far.

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