- વિચારબેંક

GUJARAT CANNOT AFFORD MANMADE MISTAKES IN FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

Nowadays, the only important topic to be debated worldwide is Corona pandemic.  India’s situation is comparatively better than some developed countries in terms of it’s population, culture and general circumstances. It is not only amazing but a big relief too. The credit may go to central government, state governments, corona warriors like Doctors, Paramedics, policemen, sanitation workers, many others in different duties  and society too. Nevertheless there are many tragic examples throughout India where people have suffered a lot due to man made mistakes rather than the Corona itself. Ahmedabad, a mega city and Surat, the vibrant city of Gujarat are such examples of it.

After hard lockdown was announced in Ahmedabad, the coronavirus epicenter of Gujarat registered 269 new cases out of a total of 390 registered in the whole state. The total number of positive cases in the state has reached 7403 on 8th evening. Ahmedabad accounted for 22 fatalities out of a total of 24 registered in the state in a single day followed by 01 in Surat, the second-worst affected city. Total death in Ahmedabad has reached up to 269 against Gujarat’s total of 449.. It means only Ahmedabad is maintaining nearly 70% share in the state. Gujarat’s fatality rate is the highest in the nation compared to the number and percentage of cases.

After irreparable loss to the state, Central government reportedly directed Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s administration for course correction to contain the pandemic and manage the situation. Some officers have been cut to size while COVID 19 responsibilities have been handed over to seasoned hands. The government roped in senior IAS officer Dr. Rajiv Gupta, handing him over all charge of Ahmedabad city and Pankaj Kumar, additional Chief Secretary, a most efficient bureaucrat having excellent track record of handling crises has been made in charge to guide the state Health Department in it’s COVID-19 management efforts. Today there is a complete ban on all shops except those selling milk and medicines. Strict implementation of the strategy has been in force, but the state will have to wait for it’s improvement.

Trial and error therapy :

Why Gujarat is feeling so much brunt of COVID-19 mainly because of two cities ? It is a time to seriouly look in to it. It is a cler crystal example of mishandling of government’s action plan and bypassing the strategic procedures by district officials. In Ahmedabad, Doctors, medical staff, police, officials worked hard but couldn’t get result due to administrative lapses. Since many days, there had been a lot of speculation among political as well as bureaucratic circles about the attitude and working style of Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra. Obviously Vijay Nehra had to play a crucial role. In the beginning he was appreciated for his hard work and proactive administration to control the pandemic, but later, he was criticised for his autocratic working style. He was not heeding to anyone. His ideological differences with the mayor Bijal Patel was never a secret. There was no coordination and synergy in coronavirus management. Not only that, his critics allege that he had become media obsessed and reduced himself to a spokeperson. Another senior burocrate Jayanti Ravi was looking after the corona outbreak being a principal secretary of health department. She also made efforts initially but gradually her main focus remained of media briefing rather than doing her actual job. After 45 gays of lockdown, the situation should have been improved, but Worsens.

Migrant Mismanagement :

The state has miserably failed to manage the migrant crises. There are nearly 15 to 18 lakhs migrants are settled in Surat only. Mainly they are from U.P, Bihar and Orissa. Since beginning of lock down their problems are increasing day by day. 6-8 members stay in a small room with limited facilities. They struggled for food, water and other basic aminities. Large number of reputed NGOs were willing to help but there was no proper coordinating channels established by the local authorities. Officials could have involved industry and union leaders in their strategy to address migrants issue. According to a video statement issued by Ashwini Kumar, Secretary to CM, more than 47,000 migrant workers left for their home states in 39 special trains. Apart from the from this, nearly 3.75 lakh migrant workers have left  Gujarat for their native places in trains, buses and other vehicles since the lockdown restrictions were eased last week. Gujarat has now transported 1.20 lakh migrant workers in total 101 Shramik trains.

Political Storm :

It is obvious that whenever such an irony arises, there is a discussion to change the leadership. It is also true that, if the achievement is credited to leadership’s account, the responsibility of irony also to be accepted. In past, Keshubhai Patel was replaced by Narendra Modi and Anandiben Patel was replaced by Vijay Rupani on account of earthquake and Patidar andolan respectively. Similarly in the case of Vijay Rupani, rumors have been circulating in political circles that Dr. Mansukh Mandviya, Minister of state, Shipping (independent Charge) and Chemicals & Fertilizers, Govt. of India is coming in his place but he rejected it by tweeting without delay. However, there is no guarantee that such statement remain true only. BJP senior leader Dr. Subramanyan Swamy also tweeted that Gujarat can be stabilised for coronavirus casualty numbers only if Anandiben Patel returns as CM. Vijay Rupani may not be a tough administrator like his predecessor Narendra Modi and Anandiben Patel, but the impression that he is a weak administrator is not true. His generous approach has also benefited the people. Certainly it is painful that his leniency is being misused by few bureaucrats, and in any case, it has to be controlled by Rupani himself, because political stability is also very important at this sensitive juncture.

Finally the state government will have to set an excellent example of administration by filling every loophole. Later is better than Never. Gujarat cannot afford man made mistakes any more. 

This article was published in The Sunday Guardian dated May 10, 2020.

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