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Ministers to Resume Work from Offices Next Week as Govt Plans for Post-Lockdown Period: Sources

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman and others during the first cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office, in South Block, New Delhi. (Image: PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman and others during the first cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office, in South Block, New Delhi. (Image: PTI)

All ministries have been directed that officers of the rank of the joint secretary and above will resume work in their respective departments, the sources said, adding one-third of the essential staff members in every ministry needs to be present.

New Delhi: All central ministers have been asked to resume work in their ministries from Monday and put together plans for the post-lockdown period to kickstart the economy, sources said on Saturday.

All ministries have been directed that officers of the rank of the joint secretary and above will resume work in their respective departments, the sources said, adding one-third of the essential staff members in every ministry needs to be present.

"The government has desired that all officers who are entitled to official transport facility will come to office from Monday i.e. officers of the level of SAG (Joint Secretary) or higher," a source said.

However, with Monday being Baisakhi, the ministers will resume working from their offices from April 14.

The sources said the government is focusing on hotspots of COVID-19 to contain the spread of the disease and is making efforts to kickstart the economy once the lockdown is lifted.

Even during the lockdown, Health, Finance, Rural Development and Agriculture among other ministries were working, while activities of others were restricted, sources said.

Besides Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, several ministers such as Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur were attending their offices during the lockdown.

"Government was not out of action during the lockdown, but now it is scaling up its activities," another official said, adding the idea is to ease the process of lifting of lockdown so that the ensuing period is hassle-free and the government has started doing its homework for the same.

Other sources in the government said there could be some easing of curbs for agriculture and its allied activities as harvesting season is about to start. There is also a view that those large industries or plants which can house their workers within their premises might be allowed to function.

Farmers and industry bodies have sought certain relaxations during the lockdown to carry out necessary activities, they said.

However, the prospects of easing restrictions on inter-district transport, railways and airways at this moment appear slim and these are likely to continue for some more time.

 

Meanwhile, the Centre is considering a request made by most states to extend the ongoing nationwide lockdown by two more weeks beyond April 14, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with chief ministers and told them that focus should be now on health as well as prosperity of the nation.

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.

During his interaction, Modi told chief ministers that now it is imperative to focus on both aspects, 'Jaan bhi, jahan Bhi', for India's bright future. 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)


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