Home > Finance > covid cases in MP: We are mulling increasing work day from 8 hours now to 10 or 12 hours: Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh

covid cases in MP: We are mulling increasing work day from 8 hours now to 10 or 12 hours: Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh


It has been over 40 days since Shivraj Singh Chouhan became the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, unseating Kamal Nath. The state has more than 2,700 Covid-19 cases. In an interview with Prerna Katiyar, Chouhan says that the cities that are worst hit by the pandemic will be soon free of the virus. Edited excerpts:

With 9 red zones, 19 orange zones and over 2,700 Covid-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh, how do you plan to tackle this crisis?

The containment zones will be completely sealed not just in red but also in orange zones. Economic activities will be allowed in the rest of the orange and green zones. We are taking many out-of-the-box steps for Covid-19 containment, like changing the mandi act yesterday. Farmers will not have to go to the market now; traders will be able to visit farmers to buy their produce. Similarly, we plan to ease norms for traders.

It is time to convert the crisis into an opportunity. We need to change labour laws and fix minimum wages. We are mulling increasing the work day from 8 hours now to 10 or 12 hours; wages will be paid accordingly. Labourers’ income and factory output will both increase this way. Also, why can’t shops remain open till midnight (in safe zones)? We are planning to make this change as well.

We also need to change our lifestyle. Why should we hold a ‘mrityu bhoj’ when one dies? Why do we need big-bang weddings? Why should we consume tobacco?

By-polls for 24 seats are due in a few months. How will campaigning change in these circumstances?

Big expenses are bound to come down. There will be no huge public gatherings or gale-milna and handshakes. Also, a lot of the campaign will shift to social media.

Madhya Pradesh is the fourth state worst-hit by Covid-19. What are the reasons for the spike in patients in major cities like Ujjain, Indore and Bhopal?

Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain have been the worst hit. But we will be able to bring all the districts into the green zone soon. Apart from a large number of people coming from abroad, the Tablighi Jamaat members travelling across the main areas of the state let the infection spread at a rapid pace. Initially, they hid their travel history and did not cooperate with us.

But there is a significant fall in cases now. In the test reports on Friday, only 2.4% of cases in the country are from the state. The good thing is that about 50% of the districts are free from the virus. A large number of patients are getting discharged from hospitals every day. No patient is on ventilator in Bhopal and only six are on ventilator in Indore.

What do you have to say to former CM Kamal Nath, who alleged that the state was not conducting enough tests and was handling Covid-19 poorly?

I do not agree with him. Since I took charge as chief minister, we have been handling this situation. Prior to this, medical facilities were poor. We have increased our testing kit capacity. If Kamal Nath was aware of these facts, why didn’t he take measures to overcome these things when he was the CM? They are hiding their failure by making such statements. I personally feel this is not the right time to play blame games.

State health officials have tested positive for coronavirus. Was it a failure on the part of the administration?

We are fighting a terrible epidemic which spreads very rapidly. Since our officers, health workers and administrative personnel were in the forefront of fighting it, unfortunately, they got infected. We salute their selfless service. I have asked for a detailed report on it. Their contact history is being investigated. We are trying to find the cause of their infection and the people they met in the meantime.

Madhya Pradesh got a health minister weeks after the state reported its first Covid-19 case. Did political developments take the attention away from the pandemic?

I do not agree with the statement that political developments took our attention away from the pandemic. Our primary focus is fighting the disease. Cabinet formation has increased the strength of the state to combat it. The whole administrative machinery is involved in this war.

What steps are you taking to reboot the state economy?

Small economic activities are operational in green zones. We have also allowed small-scale businesses to resume. Many industries have started from April 20. Out of 370 large industries in the state, 173 are now operational. Similarly, out of 22,307 small and medium industries, 1,449 units are operational. There are 30,000 workers employed in these units.

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