Concern And Action: How Yogi Adityanath Is Leading Efforts To Contain Coronavirus In India’s Most Populous State
Uttar Pradesh was estimated to be a cause for concern in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak.
Today, however, the state is setting precedents in containing Covid-19 and providing relief to people under lockdown.
On 27 March, the monk Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, was in his third day of Navaratri fasting.
One of the first chief ministers to devise a comprehensive strategy to fight coronavirus, Adityanath’s anxiety was growing with every passing minute. As if visuals of migrant workers from Delhi, walking on foot to distant destinations in Uttar Pradesh (UP) weren't enough cause for worry, reports of people being dumped by DTC buses at UP border were furthermore infuriating.
By late evening he had realised that it was going to be a long night for him.
He decided to take the command in his own hands and summoned a fleet of 1,000 buses from Noida, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Hapur and Aligarh to be pressed into service.
Drivers, conductors and transport officials were woken up from sleep. With the help of a team of officials from Gautam Buddha Nagar and Ghaziabad, a massive operation was launched to transport these workers to different destinations in UP. A few buses even went to drop passengers to neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The longest bus journey ended at Gandhi Maidan, Patna.
For Adityanath it was a sleepless night.
The next day was no better as thousands more had spilled onto the roads. The administration had realised that it would be an unending journey defeating the very purpose of the lockdown.
Once again, an exercise was undertaken on war footing to make arrangements for quarantining people wherever they were.
Schools, colleges and choultries were turned into quarantine facilities with police guarding the premises.
Within 36 hours, the pedestrian traffic was off the roads.
According to a report in Navbharat Times, an estimated 1.5 lakh migrant labourers were transported in this crisis with some buses making several trips. A few thousands are estimated to have been quarantined in various facilities. In all, 3 lakh workers are believed to have left Delhi.
An unexpected development, possibly a result of mischief in Delhi, the mass migration threw a big challenge to UP administration but was contained with dexterity, alacrity and the same speed with which it had been preparing to combat the pandemic.
In the last week of January, when the first cases of coronavirus were being reported in China, the UP administration prepared a training schedule for medical authorities and nursing staff.
On 1 February, the state had established its first coronavirus testing lab.
The term ‘hotspots’ was a novel idea of UP administration. Any cluster with six or more cases is termed a hotspot. The area is completely sealed and logistics worked out to ensure daily needs and medical supplies.
By 17 March, a week before the lockdown, the Chief Secretary of UP had written to the Mandi Parishad staff to get prepared for the eventuality. Private hospitals were being surveyed and asked to prepare for standby in second week of March.
Uttar Pradesh has been proactive from the beginning in distributing relief to the economically weaker section. Around 20.37 lakh construction workers and 15 lakh street vendors, rickshaw pullers, contract workers and coolies in mandis have received a solatium of Rs 1,000 each.
An amount of Rs 611 crore has been transferred to the MNREGA account holders.
A total 83 lakh old age, disabled and widow pensioners have received their pensions for April and May months in advance.
Out of 35,638,450 ration card holders in the state, 27,357,149 have received their rations until 14 April.
The state government has transferred a total of Rs 3,700 crore in the accounts of 1.85 crore farmers at the rate of Rs 2,000 each under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. The crop loan repayment which is due by the end of fiscal year has been deferred to 31 May.
As a dedicated bureaucratic set-up to address the pandemic, the Yogi Adityanath administration has constituted a ‘Team 11’ for coronavirus specific period.
Headed by top bureaucrats, they in turn lead their respective teams tasked with taking care of stranded students, ensuring the supply of daily necessities, cracking on hoarders, providing requisite information, cleanliness and sanitation, cattle fodder, economic task force, jail sanitation and health, monitoring hospitals and agriculture.
An important team under Director, Infrastructure and Industries development, is tasked with ensuring the timely deposit of salaries and wages to workers for the lockdown period. As a result of their continuous communication with units, until 13 April, out of 29,363 industrial units across the state, 26,644 have already paid wages to their employees.
Chief Minister Adityanath has been repeatedly directing the administration to ensure that no one in the state remains hungry. A large part of administrative effort is directed towards this end.
As on 14 April, 796 government and 1,989 voluntary kitchens have distributed food packets among 1,235,317 people. For distribution of essential supplies to hotspot areas, 509 milk vans and 978 provision vans are being used.
A total of 1,211 individuals, 108 community kitchens and 902 provision stores are catering to 125 hotspot areas, identified in 15 districts of the state so far.
Around 220 mandi samiti yards and 116 sub yards are being sanitised daily. Hand washing and face masks have been made mandatory in the premises.
Retail customers have been barred from entering the mandis and timings for some mandis in big cities have been changed from midnight to 7 am. Around 40,000 vendors have been authorised to sell vegetables on push carts and motorised carts throughout the state.
The efforts of Adityanath’s administration show up in the containment which has been possible so far in the most populous state of India. Healthcare facilities are continuously being upgraded. The number of ventilator beds in the last 10 days is up from 750 to 931 and isolation beds are up from 5,767 to 9,442.
In the same period, apart from 78 Level 1 hospitals in big cities and towns now 70 more L2 hospitals and 6 L3 hospitals are up and functioning. Testing is being done at nine facilities and five more labs are coming up. Around 48 units are making personal protective equipment (PPE) and 99 units are making sanitisers in the state.
The state government has entered into a joint venture with Maruti Suzuki to make 10,000 ventilators.
The state government is also using global resentment against China as an opportunity to attract investments. It has made an appeal to multi-national companies to invest in the state. By focusing once again on cluster-based industrial development, the state government also seeks to find a long-term solution for a large section of state population which is forced to migrate for jobs.
If the Adityanath administration has shown admirable sensitivity in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, it has been strict in pursuing Tablighi Jamaat members and booking them for their misbehaviour and insolence with doctors and nurses.
An unrelenting UP Police caught 10 Agra-resident Jamaatis from Nepal. Several members have been booked under charges as serious as Gangster's Act and National Security Act.
So far 2,461 Jamaatis have been identified and 2,267 have been quarantined. The police has also used electronic surveillance to track the missing Jamaatis. More than 1,000 cases have been filed against them. Passports of 259 foreign Jamaatis have been impounded and cases under different sections have been registered against them.
In all, the UP Police has registered 42,359 cases for violation of lockdown and Rs 5.87 crore has been realised from vehicle challans.
It is a crisis situation which tests the mettle of leaders, and Yogi Adityanath has proved once again in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that there are few like him among the state leaders, who can match concern and compassion for humanity with stern resolve and strictness.
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