More relaxations likely post May 17: CM

Panaji: Goa is likely to see some more relaxations, especially with regard to interstate public transport, as Chief Minister Pramod Sawant Monday suggested restricted lifting of curbs post May 17, when the third phase of the lockdown ends, during his interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking to the media at the Secretariat after attending the meeting with the Prime Minister through a videoconference, Sawant said he has put forth Goa’s perspective on the revival of the state economy including resumption of mining and tourism.

The Chief Minister attended the videoconference along with Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, Chief Secretary Parimal Rai, Finance Secretary Daulat Hawaldar, Health Secretary Nila Mohanan and other senior officials.

He said the Prime Minister has told all the chief ministers that every state will get powers to decide on relaxation of certain norms for economic activities within the state with prior permission of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs after May 17 when the lockdown is likely to be further extended.

“I got an opportunity to interact with the Prime Minister. I have explained the situation of Goa on COVID-19 and measures that have been taken by the state government to curb the pandemic. I have also requested him to lay down standard operating procedures so that we can welcome tourists and start restricted tourism in Goa,” he said.

Speaking on SSC and HSSC Board examinations, the Chief Minister said the exams will be held as per the schedule announced by the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.

He said there are 256 students from the border villages of Karnataka and Maharashtra, who will appear for SSC exam. “We are in the process of making provision for primary schools in border villages of Goa for the benefit of those students. If they decide to come at the notified exam centres, then we will make provision for a separate classroom for them to answer the exam. They will not be mixed with Goan students even though they all are from safe villages,” he said.

Appealing to the people to cooperate with the government during the lockdown, Sawant urged villagers staying along the state borders not to help those trying to sneak into the state during the lockdown. “Their entry is being facilitated by residents of border villages for little money. It has come to my notice that people are trying to smuggle in their relatives or workers, using shortcuts along the border. This should not be allowed. People are coming to Goa in taxis, motorcycles or using shortcuts. It’s wrong,” Sawant said. “If anybody is caught, strict action will be taken under the National Disaster Management Act,” Sawant warned.

He said the Goa government will take a review and decide on further relaxation of norms that have been imposed in the wake of COVID-19 in the state by May 16. [NT]