Aizawl: Mizoram‘s lone BJP legislator Dr BD Chakma on Tuesday said lockdown is not the only solution to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the government must find alternatives to deal with the crisis as the pandemic is not going to end so easily but may remain ever like malaria.
He said that the poor people, hawkers, daily wage earners and businessmen were severely hit due to repeated lockdowns imposed to curtail the rising COVID-19 transmission in the state.
“How long will the government of Mizoram save its citizens from COVID-19 by extending lockdown continuously? The business backbone in the state is fully distorted now. Poor people are about to die due to loss of income. Wage-earners are really in great distress now,” the BJP leader said, adding that even the poor have to bear their medical expenses for COVID-19 treatment.
As for the government employees, lockdown is not an issue because they are paid regularly, he said.
However, the worst sufferers are the poor people, who have no way to feed their families and their income has gone down to zero, he said.
Hitting out at the Mizo National Front (MNF) government headed by chief minister Zoramthanga, the BJP legislator said the state government is totally confused how to handle the crisis now.
“The government thinks that lockdown is the only solution to contain the COVID-19 pandemic under the excuse that it has no good health infrastructure,” he said.
According to Chakma, the government has allocated Rs 400 crore for the implementation of state flagship programme- Socio Economic Development Policy (SEDP) during the fiscal 2021-2022.
“What are they doing with this money? Why don’t they spend at least some of this amount to fight COVID-19?” he questioned.
He said that the government should spend and mobilise its maximum possible resources to fight COVID-19. “What kind of development will be useful for the people of Mizoram unless people are safe from COVID-19,” he asked.
Chakma said that there is no sign of decrease in COVID-19 positive cases all over the state in spite of repeated extension of lockdown.
“So, instead of imposing such prolonged lockdown, the government must find out the reason for this rising COVID-19 cases and act accordingly. Recently, the government declared that it had constituted a Research Committee on Covid-19. So, what are the findings of the committee?” he asked.
Instead of continuous lockdown, Chakma said that the government must come up with certain alternatives and policies to fight the pandemic and mitigate the livelihood crisis of the poor.
He suggested the government to upgrade its health infrastructure by ramping up emergency beds, ventilators and medicines.
Cash relief should be provided to all household families barring salaried families if lockdown is to be extended, he said.
Among others, the BJP MLA suggested that RT-PCR laboratories be made available in all district hospitals, set up medical oxygen plants in strategic locations to ensure an endless supply of oxygen, provision of treatment, food and accommodation to COVID-19 patients free of cost during lockdown and vaccination drive should go in full swing.
He also said that the government should resort to systematic unlock or relaxation of lockdown.
Chakma further suggested that all development projects must put on hold for the time being barring some essential services like food and civil supplies, health, electricity, water supply and road communication.