New Delhi [India], April 8 (ANI): Around 80 per cent of political parties suggested extension of lockdown during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
"In the meeting today with the Prime Minister, around 80 per cent of political parties suggested extension of lockdown. They have asked the Prime Minister to take a decision," Azad said in a party briefing after the meeting via video conference.
"The Prime Minister said that he has received several requests for extension of the lockdown to contain COVID-19, but he will take a call on it only after consulting experts and the chief ministers of various states," he said.
Speaking further, the Congress leader said: "Some leaders also suggested that there should not be nationwide lockdown and lockdown should be imposed in only hotspot areas like in district or state."
The ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by the Prime Minister last month will end on April 14.
Azad said that there is "inadequate" testing of COVID-19 in the country and it needs to be doubled or tripled immediately.
"We apprised the Prime Minister of the difficulties faced by health workers. We talked about giving them safety equipment and insuring them. We also talked about the need to take tough steps to eliminate the virus. We advised the Prime Minister to make sector-wise and target wise plans so that special attention can be paid to areas with critical conditions," he said.
"Also, more and more testing is needed. Physical distancing is important and there should be more efforts in that direction. Testing should be free. Our testing capacity is very low right now. Testing is totally inadequate of a population of 1.3 billion," he added.
The Congress leader said the government should give attention to the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to doctors and healthcare workers.
Azad said that Congress raised the issue and problems of workers in the meeting and demanded that they should be given free ration.
He said that crores of labourers work under MNREGA should be employed in harvesting rabi crops.
"Rabi season is going on. The wheat crop is ready for harvesting. MSP and procurement need to be increased. Repayment of loan of farmers should be postponed for 6 months and credit card limit should be increased," Azad said.
"Crores of labourers work under MNREGA. These labourers should be employed in harvesting rabi crops so that they will continue to get wages and farmers will also get their crops harvested," he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP further said that the Goods and Services Tax on fertilisers, pesticides and agricultural equipment should be removed.
Azad suggested that some Chief Ministers, Union Ministers should also be included in the Central Government task force for better coordination.
"Chief Ministers of those states where Coronavirus has more influence can be included, MLAs can also be added to the force," he said.
The Congress leader said that a working group of political parties should be formed so that the government has help in dealing with Coronavirus.
He said that the government should pay GST dues of states and a special financial package should be given to states with high Coronavirus influence but have fewer resources.
Azad said that the supply chain should not stop because of production and essential industries should be allowed to function. (ANI)