Punjab to go by experts panel’s recommendation on ending lockdown: CM

Chandigarh, April 24 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday said his government would go by the advice of an expert committee set up to formulate lockdown exit strategy in the state.

At a videoconference meeting with industrialists, economic experts, diplomats and ambassadors, the Chief Minister said any decision would be taken on the basis of the recommendations by the 20-member committee, which is expected to submit its report on Saturday.

Reiterating that his priority was saving the lives of people, the Chief Minister said: “The life of Punjabis is more important. Factories can be restarted but we can’t get people back.”

“If the expert committee, which includes medical professionals and doctors, recommends partially or total end of the lockdown we will do so,” he said in response to a question.

“I will go by their advice,” he said, but made it clear that the health of the people was his priority, even though the state was aware that the lockdown could not be kept in place indefinitely.

Pointing out that Punjab had witnessed three peaks in the Covid-19 curve in the past 40 days, the Chief Minister said it might not be possible to lift the lockdown completely for some more time, though the state will examine the prevailing ground situation.

In Punjab, of the 22 districts, five are currently in green zone.

The Prime Minister is also scheduled to consult with the chief ministers of all states on the issue of lifting of the lockdown, through a videoconference on Monday.

The Chief Minister, during the webinar, extended his condolences to Italian Ambassador Vincenzo de Luca for the large number of casualties in their country due to the cornavirus pandemic.

The envoy, on his part, expressed solidarity with the people of Punjab in their fight against the coronavirus.

Pointing to the over one lakh Punjabis living in Italy, which is one of the most affected countries in the world, the Ambassador urged the Punjab government to explore prospects for more investment by Italian companies in the state, especially in the field of food processing and agricultural machinery manufacturing.

In response, the Chief Minister directed ‘Invest Punjab’ to discuss the issue with the Italian team and find investment opportunities for them.

Even Denmark Ambassador Freddy Svane expressed keen interest in exploring investment opportunities in Punjab and requested the Chief Minister to take up the issue of some clearances pending with the government of India.