By Gyan Pathak
Maharashtra was going from bad to worse for the last two months. People were violating the advisories of the government, new corona virus strains were being found, and even double mutation were found which were believed to escape immunity of the recovered or vaccinated. However, when the Chief Minister of Maharashtra sought a roadmap for lockdown from his officials, the political parties in the states including the BJP, whose leader had announced lockdown without roadmap of implementation.
Government at the centre perhaps forgot its own directions and guidelines which Maharashtra has been trying to implement. Modi had had a meeting recently with chief ministers of the country and had advised them to enforce covid-appropriate behaviour with more stringent measures to contain the second wave of COVID-19. Why was then opposition by his party in the state when Maharashtra CM only asked for a detailed plan for lockdown? It was nothing but petty politics to fish in the troubled water. CM Uddhav Thackeray is being opposed even by some of the leaders of the ruling alliance partners.
In this political pettiness and violation of the government guidelines Maharashtra’s condition deteriorated. The major political players seem to have forgotten the importance of the Maharashtra. If India cannot save Maharashtra it cannot prevent its catastrophic effect on the lives and livelihoods in the country. Mumbai is the financial and economic capital of the country. Maharashtra is the most industrialized stated in the country. The state is the single largest contributor in the Indian economy with 15 per cent in the national GDP. The state is also important for international trade. Most major financial institutions and corporates are headquartered in Mumbai, including India’s main stock exchanges, capital market, and commodity exchanges. Largest proportion of India’s taxpayers live in the state, and its share markets transact almost 70 per cent of the countries stock. Lives and livelihoods of many within and outside depend on the state.
If the state was so important how and why it is allowed to become the worst sufferer during the second wave and within two months. Government of India has categorically said that 80 per cent of the spikes were due to violation of the covid-appropriate behaviour, while new covid strains were responsible for only 20 per cent of the cases. Maharashtra is now worst affected state in the country, and the other five states worst affected Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat. Non-observance of covid-appropriate behaviour as advised by the experts is the single largest reason of the spike.
Though these six states account for 78.56 per cent of the new infections in the last 24 hours, Dr V K Paul, member-health of the NITI Aayog said, “The situation is going from bad to worse” in the country. Dr Paul’s statement must be taken seriously who said “this a serious cause of concern. No state, no part of the country should be complacent. The trends show the virus is still very active and can penetrate our defences. When we think we have controlled it, it strikes back. There is a concern we should be mindful of.” Dr Paul added that the country was facing a severe, intensive situation and the whole country was at potential risk.
Health secretary of the Union of India, has sent a letter to all districts in the country, irrespective of the level of surge of containment, to draw up a ‘district action plan’ with clear timelines and responsibilities to control the spread of infection. “The current rise of cases is of concern and has the potential of overwhelming the healthcare system, unless checked right now,” the letter read.
“Test, track, treat” remains the key, said Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, and advised the states and UTs to “significantly increase testing along with high proportion of RT-PCR tests, tracing 25-30 contacts per positive case, isolation, and larger containment zones.” Use of police force is also advised in the letter in case of non-compliance of advisories.
Even when such statements have come, the country is witnessing large assemblies of people violating the advisories, many of them are even election rallies. You can ask a question why the governments are not implementing the advisories? The most appropriated answer would be, the people responsible to implement the advisories have become blind to the real interest of the people.
National positivity rate has been on the rise in the meantime and have reached 5.65 per cent last week, which was worst at over 23 per cent in Maharashtra. The state knew that lockdown was a option, but it needed a clear roadmap the implement it for minimum disruption in the economy while saving lives. Chief Minister Thackeray has said ten days ago that situation in the last 15 days had become grimmer. “I see lockdown as an option going ahead. But I trust people of the state to cooperation and follow norms voluntarily like the last time,” he had said. State government has increase testing and vaccination around the containment zones. Government and private hospitals have been directed to increase beds for COVID-19 patients. Covid-19 taskforce member of the state Dr Shashank Joshi has said that the second wave will spill over to the rest of the country, however, it could still be stalled with stringent public health policies as micro-containment and fines for covid-inappropriate behaviour. “We need to de-clutter and de-crowd to avoid a second lockdown,” he said.
In such a situation CM of Maharashtra needs national and state level political support. If certain political parties think his strategy has some error, it must be pointed out, but people must not be misled for political ends and they must be asked not to gather in large number without COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Let him get the appropriate roadmap and discuss it by April 2 or sooner if possible. (IPA Service)