Centre readies stimulus 2.0, may open public transport after lockdown

Sources say, government may open road, rail and air transport in a graded manner from May 20 and places of mass gathering from June 1

The decision on the stimulus package was taken after Prime Minister Modi had a detailed discussion with a team of Union ministers. Photo: PTI

With India well into the second month of a nationwide lockdown, the Centre is likely to announce a major stimulus package in the next 48 hours. The Centre is also mulling to open public transport from May 20 onwards, and public spaces in the first week of June.

The plan to announce the second economic package comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a series of meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in the past few days.

According to sources, five secretaries in the finance ministry are busy giving final touches to the proposals for the financial package.

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The government had announced its first stimulus package of ₹1.75 lakh crore immediately after a countrywide lockdown was imposed on March 24 in view of the COVID-19 crisis. It was meant to help the weaker sections of society handle the setbacks caused by the pandemic and the lockdown. The package was announced just after thousands of migrant workers, rendered jobless due to the lockdown, began a foot march to their home states.

Amid both speculations and demands for a second package to help businesses tide over the losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis, reports in April had indicated that the Centre may introduce a series of packages, instead of one mega package, to boost the sagging economy.

More relief for common man

In a breather for the common man, the Centre is likely to open road, rail and air transport in a graded manner from May 20, said sources. Protocols are expected to be announced keeping in mind the guidelines for prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

The Centre may open venues of mass gathering like shopping malls, wedding halls, cinema halls and places of worship from

June 1. The ministry of home affairs is finalising the details in consultation with the states.

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The Centre has partially opened market places in green and orange zones in various parts of the country from May 4 onwards. This includes high street single retail shops, private vehicles and services. Detailed guidelines have also been issued so that select public and private sector employees could attend their offices. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions would, however, remain closed until further orders.

Minor services such as electrical and water works have also been opened. Electricians, plumbers and other skilled workers are required to get a COVID-19 clearance certificate from their respective local government offices before commencing work.