Nagaland deputy chief minister Y Patton, MLA Chumben Murry and senior officers of the state government interact with local area leaders at Yanpha village in Wokha district

Ralan: Following a brief review of COVID-19 preparedness at Ralan area along the Assam border in Nagaland’s Wokha district, deputy chief minister Y Patton said that the district is “well equipped” to battle the pandemic.

He, however, pointed that the primary health centre (PHC) at Ralan subdivision is deprived of a doctor and assured that the matter will be pursued with the concerned department at the earliest.

Patton along with adviser of horticulture and border affairs Mhathung Yanthan, advisor of IT, science & technology, NRE, Mmhonlumo Kikon, and MLA Chumben Murry, on Saturday visited Liphiyan village and Yapha village and interacted with the local area leaders to review the COVID-19 preparedness along the inter-state border area.

Addressing the media after the interaction with the local area leaders, Patton said: “A sub-centre in Ralan area has recently been upgraded to a PHC, so their main concern or their demand is to post doctor in this area. Since a PHC is entitled to have a medical officer (MO), all four of us legislators will be making an appeal to the department to address the issue.”

Patton said that the overall performances of the medical department, administration, police have been “very satisfactory” across the district and also lauded the contribution of the civil societies and the NGOs.

He added that the COVID-19 hospitals, CHCs, PHCs, and sub-health centres are “well equipped” to fight the pandemic. Patton further said that a sufficient number of police personnel have been deployed along the border and check gates have been set up at various points along the border.

The deputy chief minister also handed a cash of Rs 1,20,000 to the chief medical officer of Wokha for maintenance of four ambulances.

The four legislators along with the district task force for COVID-19

CRPF medical officer assigned for immediate medical attention

Adviser of IT, science & technology, NRE, Mmhonlumo Kikon said, “The sub-centre has recently been upgraded to a PHC, so we do not have a doctor as yet and the entire area does not have a doctor appointed or placed by the medical department. So what we are doing right now is we are using the service of the medical officer from the CRPF which is manning the Assam-Nagaland border. At least for immediate medical attention, they are providing a doctor to look into any eventuality.”

He added that the available nurses are stationed at the two main entrances to Ralan, a gateway towards other parts of the district through Assam.

Kikon added that there is need for a doctor to be placed immediately, despite the infrastructural constraints. “That is one challenge but we will raise the concern with the concerned minister”, he said. He added that with 73 villages under Bhandari sub-division, the placement of nurses in the sub-division is relatively low.

Kikon pointed that the increase of COVID-19 positive cases in the neighboring district of Assam has created fear among the locals especially with the illegal cross-border movement of drug users, who are a possible threat of becoming carriers of the virus. He said that due to the porous nature of the border, the support of the locals became a necessity in re-strategizing the containment plan by involving the contribution of the villages to seal the border in totality.

512-km stretch of the Nagaland-Assam border remains a disturbed area belt

Adviser of horticulture and border affairs Mhathung Yanthan added that inter-state borders in the state are “completely sealed”. “However there is no full proof to the measurement. The drugs peddlers who are using the jungle passages and those are uncovered areas are our concerns and so we are also trying to involve the civil societies, village volunteers to ensure total sealing,” he said.

“Nagaland has 512-km border stretch along with Assam which is very porous. But the issue is sub judice at the moment as the borderline case is still with the Supreme Court but these areas are under Disturbed Area Belt and these are guarded by neutral force,” Yanthan added.

Ralan area neglected for a long time

Sharing a similar concern, MLA Chumben Murry said that the porous borders are a concern. He said that with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Assam, the border areas become a major concern as it is prone to spread of the deadly diseases.

“This particular stretch of border has been neglected for a long period of time, so posting of doctor at this stage is quite important even if there is no COVID-19 positive case, filtration is very important. In that case medical posting is essential,” he added.

Expressing contentment over the preparedness as “satisfactory”, Murry said that the lockdown has given sufficient opportunities for preparedness. “At this stage, mass awareness is very important because our time factor was such that we could not utilise our time for proper awareness,” he added.

Total sealing of the Nagaland-Assam border at Wokha a necessity

Deputy commissioner Orenthung Lotha said that the entire border stretch at Wokha which covers four sectors have been totally sealed with the help of the local community, even to the extent of restricting movement of essential commodities since the lockdown. He said that the problem of drug users crossing the border illegally has compelled the villages to form a task force to control these drug peddlers and drug users.

The district hospital is converted to a COVID-19 hospital and so far 12 quarantine centres are in place in the district. He said that hotels and resorts, general administrations rest houses are also arranged for doctors and medical staffs in case of any eventuality. On the overall preparedness of the district, he said that with the necessary arrangements in place, if the locals cooperate, the pandemic can be overcome.

Sufficient essential commodities in district despite total sealing

True to the tag of being ‘the land of Plenty’, the deputy commissioner said that the district is self-reliant and there is no shortage of any essential commodities. He said that along with the town council and the chamber of commerce, regulations have been made to monitor the hoarding of prices of all essential commodities.

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