No dignity in death, an expression that too shall illustrate India’s second wave of the pandemic. This week, the depressing pictures of dead bodies of Covid patients lined up at crematoria or burial grounds got a worse addition. Bodies floating on Ganges banks in Bihar’s Buxar district came as a horrendous shock to authorities and residents. At least 71 bodies were fished out here and some bodies have been found floating near the Gulabi Ghat in Patna. The total count is anybody’s guess. The present should make authorities realize that it’s not just a system failure to tackle the pandemic and save lives, but to ensure the dead are not deprived of last rites. More importantly, this is not the time of a blame game, which has erupted with its neighbour Uttar Pradesh. Bihar has accused the latter of dumping bodies, saying one, these have floated down from Varanasi, Allahabad, etc and two, the State’s tradition is to burn a body and not consign it to water. UP has refuted the accusation. However, it finds human corpses floating now in the holy river in Ballia, Ghazipur districts, 50-odd bodies at Bharauli, Ujiyar, and Kulhadia ghats in Narahi area. The two States should instead add another item on its Must Do list: Offer affordable cremation facilities. A wooden pyre is said to cost Rs 8000-odd in normal course, which now is doubled. Can the poor be faulted to use the Ganges as an option? States along the Ganga being advised by Centre to have ‘strict vigilance’ and prevent people from dumping bodies in the water, is not enough.
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Goa Covid Deaths
Famed tourist destination, Goa, no longer can continue to bask in this glory. It must change priorities —from fancy beach resorts and restaurants to building medical infrastructure. Shockingly, this week alone, 75 Covid patients died in government-run Goa Medical College, due to oxygen supply: “logistical issues involved in maneuvering the tractor which carries the trolleys of oxygen and in connecting the cylinders to the manifold (group of large gas cylinders).” Did the BJP-ruled State and its bureaucracy not see the writing on the wall? Have the deaths, 26 on Tuesday and another 21 on Wednesday, 15 on Thursday and 13 on Friday last shaken off its complacency? Opposition Congress it’s not just leadership failure but a one-upmanship tussle between Chief Minister Sawant and Health Minister Rane. Sawant set up a 3-member panel last month to supervise Covid-19 cases in government hospitals, without involving Rane. Though CM assured the public ‘State had 100% oxygen’, why couldn’t his team ensure patients got cylinders on time? Hearing PILs on GMC tragedy, the Bombay HC, told the administration “to find out ways and means to overcome these logistical issues so that precious life is not lost on account of any deficiencies in the matter of supply of oxygen to patients.” Sooner than later.
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Change of Guard In Assam
Assam has overcome its share of power struggle. Installing a new leadership despite BJP retaining power for the 2nd term, did raise many an eyebrow. Himanta Biswa Sarma, eventually took oath on Monday last as the 15th Chief Minister, replacing Sarbananda Sonowal, who had led the party and Mitrajot’ alliance of AGP and UPPL to an impressive victory. Why, is the big question? Locals opine: Sarma had cultivated national leadership, his shrewd and aggressive nature particularly gelled with Modi and Shah and ‘upper’ caste background tilted the scales against Sonowal, who though had a successful inning, was a tribal, sober and not as savvy. The State impasse of who should be top man was resolved by New Delhi. And while Sarma can be happy achieving his dream of becoming the CM finally, he needs to deliver: checking spread of Covid, revival of NRC and providing jobs. Remember, Rs 17000 crore was spent on NRC exercise. Where will he get funds for his aim for ‘re-verification’ of the published list? How will he fulfil poll promise of creating 1 crore jobs, when 1 lakh posts are lying vacant in the Secretariat since past 5 years? Wonder whether his plan to pursue “ideals and values” of Modi to take State to new heights, will work!
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Rumblings In UP
It’s a classic case of adding insult to injury. If the Allahabad High Court’s scathing rap was not enough, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has his party MLAs/MPs joining the chorus on mishandling of the pandemic. The HC has asked the government to rethink, raise amount of compensation to polling officers who died of covid during panchayat poll duty from Rs 30 lakhs, to at least Rs 1 crore. Earlier, it observed the government, had failed to fathom the disastrous impact of these polls. Infection has reached villages and how will people be treated when urban areas have failed. The inimitable Yogi may have contested this, but his own brood of BJP legislators are raising concerns, written to him over hospital beds’ shortage as they are getting SOS calls in their constituencies, 4 MLAs have died and some lost their relatives. Worse, authorities aren’t cooperating, forcing Yogi to pay visits to hospitals and having his ministers to exude confidence the situation is improving. Is it? Yogi will do well to remember the famous quote: You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
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Never give up! Yes, the farmers at the Delhi borders relentlessly focus on their mission, despite the second wave of Covid having completely overshadowed their protest against the three farm laws. With many still continue to head towards Tikri and Singhu sites, the Sanyunkt Kisan Morcha leaders have set another task—prepare for Covid emergencies. While adherence to Covid protocols is being regularly announced, a makeshift hospital at Singhu border has been set up and availability of oxygen cylinders and concentrators underway. A team of doctors is at the site to attend to people falling sick, area sprayed with sanitizer etc and appeal to activists to refrain from coming for a couple of weeks, as the numbers shouldn’t go beyond 10,000. Interestingly, the next round of Assembly polls in 2022, specially in UP, is on the radar. A roadmap is under way to launch a campaign against the ruling-BJP and have leaders move there after lifting of lockdown. Guess, the Centre has underestimated the farmers, like the handling of the pandemic.
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Buses Now Ambulances
Mini buses converted into ambulances! What an idea. It comes from Haryana’s Jhajjar district, enhancing Indian’s capacity for juggar (ingenuity). Lack of infrastructure and miserable handling of rising number of covid cases in the State has had the Bus Depot of Haryana State Transport here to convert five of its mini buses into ambulances for Covid patients. The buses, sent from Narnaul and Panipat depots, have been equipped with four beds each, stretchers, sanitisers, and PPE kits, following instructions by the State transport director. Oxygen facility is to be added soon. The initiative interestingly comes after official realised that every resource must be tapped by departments to manage the crisis. Since last year, Jhajjar’s official figures of covid cases is 13,491, of which 11,886 have recovered and 144 died. But with the second wave, situation has worsened. The bus experiment is on lines of 20 police vehicles earlier being converted into ambulances and handed by the district police to the health department. Guess, other than appreciation, the idea should hit the road in other States too. —INFA
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