The crisis emerged out of Corona pandemic is too huge and without any ‘expiry date’. We all are hopeful that it will be soon in the visible range. The mind of general public has naturally become restless as it faces two fronts at a time - COVID19 pandemic and problems emerged out of lockdown. The only solace during these critical times is the way our society stood behind the needy at this hour of crisis. The Art of Giving is the hallmark of our Indian culture, and the society has responded accordingly.
Crumbling Healthcare System
Still the ever-growing fury of Corona outbreak is testing the limits of our forbearance. An anonymous fear has gripped the minds of citizens. Today, Maharashtra has the highest number of Corona infections in the country with 31 per cent of total infections and 40 per cent of the total corona deaths.These are the numbers when Maharastra is at the fourth or fifth in the national testing ranking. While in other states, three per cent of total testings are found positive, in Maharastra this number is 15 per cent of total testings. A clear indicator that enough planning was not done to identify and quarantine the most dangerously exposed people around the infected persons. Although late, such planning is necessary even today. There must be a persuasive and calm approach.There should be a micro-planning which must be evolved step bystep, which is unfortunately missing in Maharashtra.
The precautions should have been taken while managing the health sector right from the day one. All stake-holders related to this critical sector should have been taken on-board. As it was ignored, today the frontline corona warriors are falling prey to the virus. More than a thousand police personnel and around 400 health workers, including doctors, are infected till date with the deadly virus. Taking care of the warriors, protecting them should be the priority during any war which is not visible in Maharashtra. The state issued circulars, directly in contrast to the ICMR guidelines. I had written time to time to the honourable Chief Minister, drawing his attention to these flaws. Society is in a state of shock after watching the leaked videos from various hospitals in Mumbai. People are afraid of visiting hospitals even for minor ailments. This is more worrisome when the corona infections are increasing at the rate of thousand plus per day. We have to identify and strictly quarantine the high-risk people who were in the contact of the Corona infected persons as meticulously as possible. The centre has provided with 2 lakh 90 thousand PPE kits and more than eight lakh N95 masks to Maharashtra, still we are experiencing shortages at ground level. The fund amounting to more than 468 crores is also provided by the centre for the healthcare sector. This is the result of ignorant and short-sighted leadership.
Lack of Coordination
The absence of coordination within the state administration is the second weakness we are witnessing. A situation where orders issued by Mantralaya administration are immediately reversed by the local administration is unprecedented. Be it free travel for stranded workers on ST buses or the issue of opening the shops, only the confusion prevails. This is the reason the crowds on the roads could not be controlled and administration could not ensure on-time distribution through PDS system. The ‘jumblesome’ situation continues even after sufficient amount of foodgrains are provided with by the Centre. The hunger stories of the workers are painful to read. The government took a strange decision of distributing readymade cooked food instead of rations, which had to be retracted soon after. The persons not having PDS ration cards, especially the migrant labourers did not receive any ration from the State. Near to 3.5 crores are affected by this. Nationwide even small states have helped stranded people by distributing food, but a big industrliased state like Maharashtra failed miserably in doing so. Overall, the appraoch was casual when the strict implementation of the lockdown was essential. As a result, the corona infections are on the ascending mode day by day. While other states are exploring options for exiting lockdown, Maharashtra extended it till May 31, with growing numbers of infections. The priority in coming days must be given to bringing the economy back on track. The lockdown must be implemented with full rigour and seriousness but at the same time, exit policy should be thought over to open each sector step by step. This is certainly not happening in Maharashtra.
Ignored labourers, Neglected Farmers
The centre decided to run special trains to facilitate the homeward journey of the migrant workers. The state governments were expected to coordinate with the railways for this. Maharashtra government again failed on this front and resultantly, thousands of migrants were forced to march on foot towards there home.
The centre has shown eagerness in purchasing the farm produce from the farmers which many States have responded positively. In Maharashtra, the produce is lying without the necessary infrastructure to purchase. As the monsoon season is around the corner. this is a worrisome situation.for farmers.
Maharashtra is the only state, which is lagging behind in decision-making.
Everything is blamed on the centre, but the state government is avoiding stating what efforts it has taken
Need a New Resolution
As the main opposition party, we have conveyed each and every point to the government. We don’t intend to play politics during this hour of crisis. We are clear about it from day one and we have shown restraints. Other states are not only taking decisions but also declaring packages for various sectors. They are eager and trying hard to pull investments to their states even in the pandemic. Maharashtra is the only state which is lagging behind in this process. For all the problems, Union Government is blamed, without telling the initiatives of the State Governemnt. Even smaller states are home delivering the essential rations and pro-actively helping their citizens stranded in other states, then why Maharashtra can not do it? Maharashtra is a developed state. The information technology could have been effectively used in this time of crisis. Constrcutive suggestions do not mean criticism. If accepted with a broad mind, the suggestions can help in resolving crisis; if they are not accepted and taken as criticism, it is nothing but self-deception. Such huge crisis requires more hands to fight it. A team spirit would benefit the state and raise the confidence of the citizens. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has just declared a huge package of 20 lakh crores. It is better now to plan for Maharashtra, ensure that the State gets the maximum benefit of the same instead of blaming the centre. This should be our next resolution.
(The writer is Leader of Opposition, Maharashtra Vidhansabha and Ex-Chief Minister)