Maharashtra, a home state for India’s largest regional economy, plans to loosen lockdown restrictions on some business sectors on Monday, April 20, 2020, to refuel its deteriorating economy after a weeks-long shutdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. All economic activities in India put into a halt after the second-phase national lockdown was extended until May 3, which left millions of migrant workers out of job and remained stranded in across many major cities.
Maharashtra’s Lockdown Relaxing
Maharashtra, which is home to India’s financial center- Mumbai, has the highest cases of the virus infection and the worst thing was that the pandemic outbreak has reached among a large number of people from highly-dense inhabited slums. With the extension of national lockdown that began late last month until May 3, the federal government of India under the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has allowed states to restart activity as amid economic distress in rural areas.
Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray told a news conference on Sunday that some economic activity would be permitted in the least-affected parts of the state while continuing a strict lockdown in the red zones that have the maximum number of cases. He stated, “We need to start the economic wheels again. We are giving selective permissions from tomorrow, especially in orange zones and green zones,” referring to areas with lower levels of infection.
A source reported that activities such as farming, highway construction, and manufacturing will be the main focus for the latest lifting of restriction of the government and allowed in hinterland areas not heavily affected by the virus this week. This would perhaps bring back some of those thousands of migrant workers, who earlier attempted to flee from the big cities for their homes and now stuck in the countryside, to work.
Restrictions on e-commerce Platforms
Responding to a question, Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said his government had no plans to ease restrictions since the capital city of India witnessed a surge in the number of the virus infection, which currently accounts for over a third of cases in the country. He told a press conference, “Currently, lockdown is necessary. No relaxations should be given in the hotspots in the city,” adding that the situation would be reviewed later in the month.
Analysts viewed that South Asia, home to a fifth of the world’s population, could be one of the worst coronavirus affected regions in the world and those counties that have poorly funded health systems across the region would face the ultimate hardship of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Sunday, meanwhile, the Indian government withdrew the permission for e-commerce firms mainly Flipkart and Amazon.com Inc. to sell non-essential goods during the lockdown.
The decision was announced after the Confederation of All India Traders, which represents millions of small brick-and-mortar businesses, criticized that the online retailers have caused adversities and unfair advantages to Indian small business groups in selling non-essential products. Indian Trade Minister, Piyush Goyal welcomed the federal government’s decision and said, “This will create a level playing field for small retailers.”
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