Itanagar: With the Centre allowing stranded persons to travel back to their home states albeit under conditions, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu on Friday said that the nodal officers already appointed state-wise will coordinate and chalk out a detailed plan for bringing back natives stranded outside the state. Home commissioner Kaling Tayeng will oversee the entire process as the chief nodal officer.
As a part of the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ mission to bring back stranded Arunachalees, Khandu informed that in the first phase people stranded in other Northeastern states will be brought back in batches. He appealed Arunachalees stranded within Northeast to apply online as directed till the midnight of May 2.
Thereafter stranded citizens will be brought back in a phased manner from other states starting first with those in green zones.
The chief minister, however, reiterated that the ban on issuance of Protected Area Permits (PAP) and Inner Line Permits (ILPs) will continue to be in force. Applications for renewal of already existing permits will also be put on hold till a notification is issued in this regard by the state home department, he said.
Speaking to ministers, MLAs, deputy commissioners, police officers and health professionals of all the districts through video conferencing, Khandu emphasized that life post-lockdown will not remain same as the threat of COVID-19 is of permanent nature till the virus is eradicated in future.
He pointed that there’s an immediate need for full preparedness of the state machinery to deal with the incoming stranded citizens and directed the deputy commissioners and legislators concerned, particularly of the districts bordering Assam, to physically visit and make sure that all quarantine facilities near the entry points are fully equipped as per protocol.
“Once these quarantine facilities start to house incoming Arunachalees there should not be any complaints for lack of facilities like water supply, electricity, toilets, etc,” he said and suggested formation of local committees to monitor and oversee all such quarantine facilities.
Arunachal Pradesh has 25 entry points with check-gates along the border with Assam. Of these, only 12 are functional at the moment as a precautionary measure since the lockdown.
“We need to learn to live with the novel virus. Therefore, securing the lives of our citizens after the lockdown ends and till a cure to this pandemic is found and made available will be the greatest challenge for us,” he said.
While seeking to wait for the directions from the Central government as two more days are to go before the lockdown ends officially, Khandu said the road ahead will be difficult but not impossible.
“Coronavirus, though a bitter experience, has come as a timely intervention. It has actually jolted us out of our slumber. We have learnt our lesson. As it is said ‘better late than never’ we must all dedicate our attention, energy and resources in hauling our health service infrastructure in a massive scale,” he said.
Khandu informed the legislators that all funds that the state receives under North East Special Infrastructure Development (NESID) and North East Council (NEC) schemes will be used only for developing the state’s health infrastructure.
“Till last month we had not a single ventilator kit or an ICU. This exposes the sorry state of affairs on our part. It must change,” he asserted.
While informing that the government will initiate a massive rationalization in transfer and posting of doctors, Khandu urged legislators, officers and others not to interfere or seek favours. He directed health minister Alo Libang not to entertain any recommendation in transfer and posting of doctors.
The chief minister assured everybody that there was enough stock of essential commodities in the state to last for at least three months. He suggested movement of essential commodities to districts which are prone to road-blockades during the monsoon in advance.
To several requests for facilitating travel to and from the eastern districts to the state capital, Khandu said that the process has been initiated now that inter-state travel has been opened. He said the state transport department will work out the modalities in a day or two.
“The real challenge for us lies after May 3. Let’s cooperate and coordinate as we have been doing the past two months and thwart entry of COVID19 into our state,” he said while thanking the district administrations, state police, healthcare workers, paramilitary forces, CBOs, NGOs and volunteers.
Through the video conferencing deputy commissioners of all the districts updated the government about their status and preparedness to deal with corona virus, while several legislators including former chief minister Nabam Tuki and former Speaker Wanglin Lowangdong submitted suggestions for the way forward.