Elaborating on the Covid 19 situation in Uttar Pradesh, the CM Sri Yogi Adityanath said, the most important aspect of containing a pandemic lies in prompt action from the government.
Following the pragmatic approach and foresight of the Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi, the UP Government had immediately geared into a proactive state. Sri Yogi had stopped all festivities starting with Holi in a bid to contain the situation since 2 people were suspected of Covid in the state. Subsequently all schools and colleges had been shut down within days, followed by Malls and Cinema halls. Even an international cricket match to be held in UP was directed to continue without any spectators, though eventually the BCCI cancelled the event in view of the pandemic.
The challenge to UP lies in its location that soon became a transit for migrant workers of other states, leaving alone the huge influx of migrants from the state itself. The government immediately employed 16000 buses to ferry the migrants home in UP from various states. Arrangements were made for quarantine and tests before the migrants were allowed to go home.
Preparation for lockdown was already underway. The ministers had immediately been grouped under various task forces to handle every aspect that needed active engagement. Various committees based on vocational and rural requirements were tasked to take adequate steps to avert any crisis. Daily meetings with any of those 7 or more committees would take place with the CM. The committee looking after health were quick to identify Covid hospitals, categorizing them into 3 levels, and to acquire required test kits. Today 78000 patients can be accommodated in beds in UP. Similarly the committee for law and order ensured strict implementation without the police getting infected, the committee for rural and agricultural enablement ensured MSME could take advantage of the labour influx to boost medical and other productivity. Rural necessities like cold storage, facemask stitching, sanitizer, agricultural and vocational need based productivity were up to speed. Today 26 manufacturing units of PPE kits are running in UP and many states have procured sanitizer from the state.
Soon the Tablighi Jamaat fall out led to an unprecedented situation threatening to throw the pandemic into stage 3 or community spread. Every effort was made to find and contain such 5000 attendees within 48 hours. Migrants and students from various states returned to UP by the trains or buses arranged by the UP government. These migrant workers had a high risk of carrying Covid 19 depending on their state of origin, for example, 50% for Mumbai and 70% for Delhi. About 15 lakh migrant workers can be quarantined in UP. The migrants were screened before being allowed to proceed home with 15 days of ration for home quarantine on government transport.
The administration of Covid has been scalable starting from the gram panchayat level and ward level that monitors for any suspect symptoms. All 75 districts in UP have ventilators and full testing facilities, with 75000 medical workers actively screening the population. The government is ready to bring back all its migrant workers and provide them with adequate employment in the state.
Due to the Chinese spread of the virus many companies are seeking an alternative site and UP has already managed to woo a German shoe manufacturer and hopes to generate many more earning opportunities in the state. The infrastructure and roadways coupled with the government policies and stable security situation has been aiding the influx of investors in the state. The stability is further enhanced by the findings that the migrant workers have higher immunity levels and are recovering within 7 days when provided with adequate care. The returning migrants have brought in various skills from plumbing to computer operators into the state enriching the human resource reserves in the state. The UP government is planning a commission to enable employment for the migrants as a skill mapping of their workforce. Other states can avail this work force that will be equipped with social security and insurance policies but will be under the observation of the state to avoid exploitation. This is in line with the PM’s view of swabalamban and arthic samriddhi or self-reliance and economic development.
Speaking on fake news Sri Yogi mentioned that law shall take its course on all miscreants and also refuted the claims of opposition that his government is more into temples than economy. The facilities provided by the state are so adequate that there is little outward migration from the state. The state does not believe in appeasement politics and the faith of the people lies with the government.
Responding to Rantidev Sengupta on Atmanirbhar Bharat and rural economy, the UP CM said, women empowerment through Gramin Sebika Sangathan and Kishan Utpadan Sangathan have boosted the employment and earning capacity of the rural folks. With the homecoming of skilled workers employment opportunities would increase with government support. For example, what we can see in Kashi Vishwanath Temple, they are manufacturing incense and perfume from flowers offered in temples. So, instead of importing incense, the same can be manufactured from flowers offered in temples, this will also boost the make in India programme. The pandemic is also an opportunity to realign the economy. Responding to Rathindramohan Banerji and Debjani Bhattacharya from Kolkata, Sri Yogi said, there is no conflict between faith and economy, both Ram and Roti are essential. In UP there has been no major law and order situation, and both infection and death count is lower than West Bengal. He said, all migrants were welcome in UP, hinting at rampant vote bank politics leading to mismanagement of the pandemic in WB.
The state stands firmly with its people in times of crisis providing the 18 crore people with free ration for 5 times till date, 32 lakh people with subsidy for daily needs, and 86 lakh people with pension schemes. The state looks forward to self employment through MSME sectors and all steps in that direction are already underway.
Arghya J Ganguly