The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in the centre on Sunday gave state governments more power to decide on the rules for blocking and classifying containment areas, a day before the fourth phase of the blockade, which was imposed to contain a coronavirus outbreak.
Under the new guidelines, EU states and areas will now define red, green and orange zones on the basis of parameters shared by the Ministry of Health, according to a government announcement on Sunday evening.
An area may be a district or a local government/municipality or even smaller administrative units, such as units added by decision of the States and territories of the Union.
This was one of the main demands of most state governments, which claimed that local authorities were better aware of local factors and therefore better able to take such decisions.
States are increasingly stressing the need to take local issues into account when classifying areas, as these are closely linked to the recovery of economic activity.
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Graphs : Naveen kumar Saini
These issues were raised by several Prime Ministers last week at an important meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Maudie.
In the last two weeks, Prime Ministers have asked the central government not only to authorise state governments to classify zones, including local and buffer zones, but also to decide on the nature of their administrative unit on the basis of guidelines from the Union Ministry of Health.
Not only states controlled by the opposition, but also most states led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have demanded that they come to power and decide to launch economic activities in the Green Zones.
Several areas are green zones and in these zones certain economic activities have to be started. The Centre has accepted this, and this is important because there used to be a national blockade, which meant there was no economic activity, but now the states can decide for themselves, said the Bihar government minister.
State governments believe that a relaxation of the decision on the administrative denominator of the zones, in particular the red zones, will help them to better manage both the strict restrictions in those zones and the release of more zones for economic activity.
A high-ranking minister of the opposition state noted that if an area of up to 1,000 square kilometres is declared a red zone, no commercial activities can take place in that entire area.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba met with the State Secretaries on a late Sunday evening to discuss the extension of the segregation period.
The new guidelines for the classification of states and zones had not yet been published before they went to press.
Several state governments, including those of Telangany and Karnataka, will hold a cabinet meeting on Monday to refine the details of the guidelines.
A representative of the Government of Kerala stated that, under certain conditions, the State would allow all bus services, including to other States, and that the current curfew for general transport would be extended from 19.00 to 7.00 hours.
On Sunday, the Union government announced an extension of the national blockade until 31 December. May, as announced by the majority of state governments.
This is the fourth phase of the extension of the blockade, which has made it possible to open up the red zones to economic activity, although the restricted areas will remain free of any intangible movement.
Among the most important powers conferred on States on Sundays are the decision on the internal movement of vehicles and buses, the prohibition of activities in areas other than those prescribed by the Centre or the imposition of restrictions.
So far, more than 95,000 cases have been registered in the country, resulting in 3,000 deaths.