Senior central government officials would be resuming work next week onwards as rabi harvesting is set to begin on April 15, sources in the finance ministry told Moneycontrol.
Sources also say that the government has desired all officers who are entitled to an official transport facility i.e. officers of the level of Senior Administrative Grade (Joint Secretary) or higher come to the office from Monday.
The junior-level staff has been directed to report to work on a rotational basis and the government is said to have advised strict adherence to social distancing norms for all.
Moreover, as per a document issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, the government would be holding a conference on strategies for crop management during the lockdown and in the Kharif season on April 16.
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The conference would be attended by agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar along with other senior ministry officials. The conference would be held through video conferencing with minimum participation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held a video conference with chief ministers primarily to take their feedback on whether the 21-day nation-wide lockdown should be extended beyond April 14 to stem the tide of the infections on April 11.
State governments have asked the PM Modi for an extension of the lockdown. States like Maharashtra among others have extended the lockdown already.
The ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 crisis, announced by PM Modi on March 24, is scheduled to end on April 14.
The announcement has severely disrupted supply chains across the country, as the lockdown directly impacted small and medium businesses as well as daily wage earners.
Ministry of Agriculture
On April 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hinted at a staggered lockdown withdrawal after his interaction with chief ministers of states via video conferencing.
Centre has taken adequate measures in coordination with states to ensure there is no delay in procurement of rabi produce like wheat, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said on April 10.
Tomar acknowledged damage to crops, especially perishable products like flowers and fruits, due to restrictions caused by the nationwide lockdown, and said the Railways' decision to carry essential commodities by trains and connect them with all important cities will help farmers.
Procurement of wheat will begin from April 15 and depending upon the restrictions in place, the Centre is working with states for the purchase of farmers' produce while adhering to social distancing norms.Follow all our coverage on Coronavirus here.