New Delhi: The national lockdown, to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic, will be extended by at least a fortnight.
A decision in this regard was reached during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interaction with chief ministers on Saturday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to confirm the decision to extend the lockdown.
“PM has taken correct decision to extend lockdown. Today, India’s position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is imp to extend it,” the AAP leader tweeted.
However, the union government is yet to make an official announcement in this regard. Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that the PM will address the nation at 8 pm on Saturday.
It is learned that the union government will follow the Kerala model in preventing COVID-19. Relaxation is likely to be granted to several sectors including agriculture and small industries.
"During the video-conferencing with state CMs today, most states requested Prime Minister Modi to extend the lockdown for two more weeks. The Central Government is considering this request," a government spokesperson said.
There are indications that an extension in lockdown may come with certain relaxations to boost economic activities and sources said proposals being considered include lesser restrictions in areas unaffected by the virus spread.
After the interaction, Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa said the next two weeks of lockdown, after April 14, would be different from the ongoing one for three weeks.
He said the prime minister told the chief ministers that the lockdown extension was inevitable and guidelines will be issued about its implementation for further 15 days in a couple of days.
During his interaction, Modi, himself wearing a white mask, told chief ministers the focus should be on "jaan bhi, jahaan bhi" and it is essential for "India's bright future, and prosperous and healthy India", the statement said.
"While announcing the lockdown, I had said 'jaan hai to jahan hai'... Most people in the country understood it and discharged their responsibilities by remaining indoors. And now it is imperative to focus on both aspects, 'Jaan bhi Jahan Bhi', for India's bright future, and prosperous and healthy India," Modi said.
When every citizen does his work while keeping both these aspects in mind and follows the government instructions, then it will further strengthen our fight against coronavirus, he said.
Farmers and industry bodies have sought certain relaxations during the lockdown to carry out necessary activities.
During the video conference with Modi, several chief ministers including Punjab's Amarinder Singh, West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal had suggested extending the lockdown at least by a fortnight.
Odisha and Punjab have already extended the lockdown till April 30 and May 1 respectively.
The ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 crisis, announced by Modi on March 24, is scheduled to end on April 14.
(With inputs from PTI)