Mohan lal Verma
Shimla Sept, 24, 2020
Himachal Pradesh Government which is adopting zero tolerance in the laxity of lockdown and Covid prototocals seems to be taking u-turns. In March when a lock-down was ordered in the entire country, the HP State government went a step ahead to impose Curfew here. However now, under an alarming shortfall of medical paraphernalia and due to drastic shortfall in levies the state is taking a reverse turn.
Since March 23 this year, the State Government decided to completely close all sectors and remained on virtual halt due to the spreading of Covid pandemic in the country and state. Pertinent to mention that then cases of infection were far lesser in numbers as compared to-day. The way State Government and its Machinery handled a particular religious group devotees and put hundreds of them behind the bar for alleged breach of Covid protocol and slapped cases under Disaster management Act showed state’s zero tolerance towards the deadly disease.
But, recently the Chief Minister’s suo-moto statements in the state assembly over the unprecedented spike in the state Covid cases as figure crossed 10,000 showed complete policy change on the pandemic. As Chief Minister quoted Arvind Kejriwal Govt’s outstanding handling of non-symptomatic Covid patients without sending them in the Covid centre. Chief Minister quoted the AAP Government figures and said that it succeeded to cure 45 percent of Covid affected people in home quarantine. This evidently indicated the state Government’s shift from the old stand, when it wanted to isolate all COVID infected (Symptomatic/asymptomatic) in Covid care centers. JaiRam Thakur said that State Government had already changed the Covid protocol in sync with the ICMR changing guidelines which allowed discharging of Covid positive patients without test or turning negative for the pandemic from the hospital.
The shift in the state Government stand also hints that Medical paraphernalia seems to be exhausted as a number of Covid warrior including Doctors, Covid treatment staff and policy personnel have become victims of the outbreak. There are several media reports highlighting the growing fatigue of these health warriors.
Also, the prolongness of the pandemic seems to be the costing dear to the meager state coffer as the levy recorded sharp decline. Tunes to around eighty to ninety percent and accumulated loss of Rs 30,000 Cr being estimated so far.
The state economy which is in absolute halt for the last six months baring agriculture is a big challenge for the state government now. To roll it back, they started with allowing 100 percent occupancy in buses. Then allowance of condition free entry to tourists and now schools and temples also open. Besides the way, political activities for the Panchayat elections and delimitation process was being given a push indicates the Government’s ineptness and tearing hurry to say ‘bay to all’ Covid protocol.
It seems now the only prerogative of the State government is to, not only speedily bring the economy on the increasing pace, but also it wants to recover the shortfall of revenue in closedown period from the commoner’s pockets. The hike in power, Bus fare, Garbage charges are evident enough to support the claim.
Inflation is skyrocketing as the prices of vegetables like Tomato, Potato and Onion is rising every day. The State government PDS shops could not disbursed the ration quotas in time. Even the salaries of HPTDC staff were delayed by two months despite and the issue caught light in the monsoon session of Vidhan sabha.
On the other had general public is in a confused state. Being scared of an outbreak due to sudden swelling in the tourist numbers they are restraining movement.
As many as 50,000 people visited various shrines in last ten days and their footfall is increasing with every passing day.
An average 400 pandemic affected patients are adding every day. The death toll has increased to 130 and deceased include the senior medical officers and doctors.
The number of asymptomatic patients which are expected to undergo testing suddenly declined when it should have been gone up. A doctor of IGMC told writer on the conditions of anonymity that the Covid may go on peak in month of November now instead of September and October.
The administration which is bound to follow the state Government is of the view that one has to live up with the pandemic. The notion seems to be shrilling as the consequence may be drastic and number of old age people and Comorbid need to be protected with extra care in this haphazard unlock down process.
Moreover social gathering like marriage, parties, religious ceremonies and political gatherings are next on the cards as the Government cannot not keep these restricted for a long time. Besides even Shimla, Manali, Dharmshala and Mandi have recorded sudden spikes in the cases in last few days with the opening of hospitality industry.
The severity of the pandemic or spike in the cases is indicated from the fact that more than 300 schools remained closed on very first day of opening it on Sep 21 on Monday in the state.
State currently has as many as plus 12000 covid positive cases and nearly 5000 active. Many deceased are being confirmed positive posthumously points out some major error in the Covid administration protocol. The recent demise of a senior woman politician Shyama Sharma in similar circumstances showed the glaring gaps in the state government policies to cater to the global outbreak.
Now the question is that if the state Government wants to sacrifice the state economy to protect the lives or health of people then why these U-turns. Perhaps the wisdom of state leadership is on stakes here. Because if it cannot bring the state out from the affix and cannot board the two boats together in these turbulent waters, then it is sure to lose reputation in the common man’s eyes.