Red, orange and green districts: plan to restart economy

The four infection hotspots in the state, all in NCR — Gurgaon, Faridabad, Nuh (Mewat) and Palwal

Corona Virus
Picture: Pixabay

Gurgaon: Outlining a way out of the lockdown in a phased manner, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar evening said the state’s 22 districts would be divided into three zones — red, orange and green — based on the spread of the novel coronavirus (which causes Covid-19).

And just as traffic lights behave, the ones in red will have to wait longest. The four infection hotspots in the state, all in NCR — Gurgaon, Faridabad, Nuh (Mewat) and Palwal — which have a significant number of cases and have already announced containment zones were all declared ‘red zones’ by the CM. What this means is that no economic activity will be immediately allowed and business establishments will not open. The districts together account for 132 out of Haryana’s 165 cases — 44 in Nuh (also the state’s highest), 30 in Gurgaon, and 29 each in Palwal and Faridabad.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video-conference with CMs, Khattar said that while a formal announcement will be made in a day or two, “indications” from the meeting were that the lockdown was set to be extended by two weeks. He added that it emerged during the CMs’ meeting that areas should be categorised depending on the severity of the spread.

What also became clear in Khatta’s speech is that social distancing committees will become the new pivot for policymaking at least while the battle against Covid-19 is on. The Haryana government will form these committees to frame rules for opening of offices, construction sites and manufacturing units and pass business plans.

Gurgaon, along with Mumbai and Bengaluru, is considered the heart of India’s corporate economy. Reopening the city, base for hundreds of Indian and multinational companies and an ecosystem of startups, is crucial for the economy and focus will remain around exploring a staggered resumption of economic activity here.

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During the past week, Gurgaon has stepped up its containment and surveillance efforts, starting a door-to-door survey to check residents for symptoms of Covid-19 and record their travel history. It also sealed nine areas — Raipur village in Sohna, Sector 9, Nirvana Country in Sector 54, Palam Vihar, Emaar Palm Gardens in Sector 83, Laburnum society in Sushant Lok 1, Sector 39, Fazilpur-Jharsa and ward no 11 in Pataudi.

“Districts in the red zone are where people are most affected by coronavirus. Their number is still rising. All the hotspots in this zone have already been identified. Economic activities in these four districts will not be started anytime soon,” Khattar said in a televised address. Urging people to wear a mask whenever they step out of their house, he said now they should make it a habit “just like wearing clothes”.

The CM said the state’s remaining 18 districts will be divided into two zones – orange and green. In the ‘orange zone’ (vulnerable) will be districts with fewer Covid-19 patients and cases under observation, surveillance and quarantine. The ‘green zone’ will include areas with negligible cases, where movement of raw material and finished goods will be allowed and strict measures currently in place will be relaxed soon.

Stressing that stopping economic trade and other related activities for a very long time is almost impossible and would adversely affect the state, the CM said that these will be allowed in a phased manner for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the zones that are less affected.

“For the benefit of labourers, farmers and affected sections of the society, we will allow movement of semi-finished and finished goods. However, movement of people will be restricted. We have already set up social distancing plan committees across the state at various levels that will decide who to allow to work.”

Khattar said social distancing committees will also ensure guidelines are followed when offices and manufacturing units open. SMEs will also need to ensure their workers maintain social distancing and are provided food and accommodation within the factory premises so that they do not have to move out, the CM said, adding that only those with an approved social distancing plan will be allowed to work.

Khattar said to avoid overcrowding of shops supplying essential items, the state will extend operational hours of stores that would give people more time to people to buy. He stressed that black marketing and hoarding will not be allowed at any cost.