Covid-19: Naveen Patnaik urges Prime Minister to extend blockade until April 30

BHUBANESWAR: Two days after Odisha became the first state in the country to extend the blockade until April 30, Prime Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday he urged the prime minister Narendra Modi to extend the blockade nationwide until the end of this month to verify the spread of.

While the Prime Minister held a video conference with all CMs, the third since March 20, to discuss the strategy to deal with the pandemic, Naveen also suggested that flight and train services should not start until April 30, according to a communication from the prime minister. office.

The measure to suspend train and flight services aims to restrict the movement of people, which the state government believes is a vital step in ending the transmission chain.

Realizing the importance of agriculture in both Odisha and the country, Naveen urged the Prime Minister to ensure the continuation of agriculture and allied activities, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee System (MGNREGS) taking into account count the patterns of social distancing.

Naveen's cabinet has already made the decision to allow agricultural activities in the state, as Kharif's agricultural season would begin in the state in April last week, while the fact is that about 70 percent of the state's population depends of agriculture. The state government also decided to allow MGNREGS to work to secure jobs for the rural population in this time of crisis.

The chief secretary already informed the Center about the three previous points in a letter to the secretary of the Union Cabinet on April 9. The extent of the block is essential to control the spread of the pandemic. It is a positive move that the Prime Minister has consulted all states on the subject. of the extension of the blockade, a senior state government official said of the video conference.

BJD leader in Lok Sabha Pinaki Mishra, during a video conference with the prime minister on April 8, had also sought more margin for states on closure-related issues.

The prime minister, among other issues, also highlighted the plight of Odia's migrant workers, who have been stranded in various states across the country due to the blockade.

Odisha people stranded in other states to be served by interested states. Our state will continue to coordinate, Naveen said during the video conference.

According to official estimates, around 1.5 lakh of Odia migrant workers are trapped in different states, mainly in states like Delhi, NCR, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka due to the ongoing blockade. The state government has established a helpline to reach migrant workers and guarantee basic needs.

Naveen's request for the well-being of stranded migrant workers takes on importance after the Surat incident on Friday when hundreds of migrant workers rioted in the city of Gujarat. More than 7 Lakh Odia people, mostly from undivided Ganjam districts, migrated to Surat to work in the textile, chemical and diamond cutting industries, while many of them also settled there.

The prime minister did not pose any specific problems with the Surat incident to the VC, an official said.

While requesting the Prime Minister for the welfare of Odia's stranded migrant workers, Naveen also assured that his government will continue to care for workers from other states, who are stranded in different districts of the state.

The state government treats migrant workers from other states as guest workers. Around 77,000 of these guest workers have been housed in around 2,532 transit camps in different districts ensuring their basic needs such as food and medical care. The state department of labor has established a special cell to carry out the task.