Shillong: Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh, representative of East Shillong, on Friday expressed that the meeting of all the MLAs of the East Khasi Hills district with the ruling government was a free and frank discussion.
Lyngdoh said that issues were discussed at length and that the MLAs had given their suggestions to the government.
According to Lyngdoh, the major issues raised was concerning the declaration of micro-containment zones and how the food chain supply gets disrupted.
“We appreciate that the govt did take the necessary step whenever they saw the need for an immediate declaration of a containment zone. However, while declaring containment zone or micro-zones, we have put before the government the fact that the food chain supply should not be disrupted. Essential services to all of these localities should not be disrupted. As much as we are saying that a shutdown in the entire city will definitely affect livelihood we should also not forget that these individual localities which are getting contained are anyways losing their livelihood. We have requested the government to come up with a proper planning to address these problems,” said Lyngdoh.
She added that the spread is happening now at a community level. What are the pros and cons and actions that need to be put in place?
Lyngdoh informed that the government has promised to reconstitute containment zones and COVID Management Committees.
The alarming situation where the COVID-19 cases are increasing day by day in the state was also discussed and the MLAs have expressed that the government should have adequate space for a COVID treatment centre.
Another issue raised by the MLAs was that the government needs to stabilise water and power supply to Shillong city. The chief minister has assured the MLAs that he would look into it.
Lyngdoh expressed that in the last three weeks particularly, the disruption of power and water supply has affected every individual citizen in the city.
Another issue raised by the MLAs was that while shutting down the borders necessary communication and facility centres for those who are already in transit has to be put in place.
“If the government suddenly decides to shutdown a border whereas there have been citizens who are already en route to Meghalaya, now they are getting stranded in places like Byrnihat and Nongpoh. The honourable chief minister has assured that he will look at that as well,” informed Lyngdoh.
Concerning the issue that the state does not have adequate number of institutional quarantine centres, the government has assured that they will resit to plan possible corona care centres.
According to Lyngdoh the government may use the facilities within the localities, facilities like guesthouses and hotels will be utilised since many individuals who have now tested positive have nowhere to go.
“There are not enough facilities; government can provide according to the slide maybe up to 400-500 capacities. Now as the numbers are increasing, because of the alarming increase in the community spread of this pandemic, the government has requested all legislators to participate, especially in areas where the red zone is becoming larger by the day,” informed Lyngdoh.
When asked what the MLAs think about the government encouraging home quarantine, Lyngdoh said that as per protocols detailed by government in the presentation today there are so many requirements for home quarantine and we know that the maximum numbers of people affected by the pandemic are individuals who do not have these facilities in their homes we have requested the government to continue with institutionalized quarantine facilities.
Lyngdoh said that we have expressed that it is not going to be an easy task for the community centers to handle COVID, care providers must necessarily be trained personnel, because community cannot be expected to suddenly turn experts.
She added that they would constitute these committees and they would get back to us and we would accordingly get more insight into this plan of the government but definitely as of today it is not safe to send individuals who have tested positive to recover at home even if they are asymptomatic.
Concerning persons tested positive having mental stress, Lyngdoh said the question of assessing the mental status of an individual having tested positive is another debate altogether.
“We as legislators are incompetent to make a comment on that. But you cannot substitute institutional quarantining to home quarantining. Whether the person stays at home or if the person stays in an institutional quarantine centre the mental trauma remains the same. I’m not an expert but I’m just saying I’m observing that the moment you say that I have tested positive definitely I would be disturbed mentally so that mental disturbance will not change whether you’re at home or you’re in an institution,” said Lyngdoh.
She added, “However, if you are well to do for example– if you are a doctor and you have been tested positive — surely you have the competency to go home and quarantine in your home if you have your facilities because you’re a doctor you have the wherewithal to home quarantine. But if I belong to the economically weaker section I will be having mental torture and wondering whether my family will also test positive because of me. So there are two sides of the coin and we await for the constituting of these committees where MLAs especially MLAs of red zones will be part of the planning.”
When asked if this initiative to get the MLAs on board was too lat, Lyngdoh said that she would not want to be negative at the moment but then the situation in the state is alarming.
She said that if in July the total number of cases recorded in Meghalaya was 56 but in August of the same year numbers of cases per day were 126, is a concern.
Lyngdoh said, “We have to cordon off marketplaces which are very crowded we have to contain because individual do not seem to understand that safety is a priority and safety for not just themselves but for the communities around them is important. We asked the honourable chief minister, why is it that the night curfew continues in Shillong because it is very disturbing it disrupts alot of things. The reply of the chief minister is that it reminds people that we want to get back to normal but we’re still not normal. So we tend to agree that maybe this restriction is also important but then just to restrict is not a solution.”
She said that the solution here is that if the numbers of cases increase are they going to send these individuals home? The MLAs are afraid of that because in all likelihood 90% of those testing positive will not have the facilities in their homes, so we are afraid that the numbers will multiply much faster, added Lyngdoh.
The MLAs did express satisfaction that the government called the MLAs for a meeting concerning the COVID-19 situation in the state.
“We await for governments action and we are positive that government after having taken us on board will act to some of the grievances,” said Lyngdoh.
Congress MLA, Mohendro Rapsang representing West Shillong said, “I requested the government to put another testing centre in my area because those areas are very vulnerable and highly densely populated area so government has assured to look into the matter.”
“It is good that they called the meeting so that we can participate and understand what are the cases and the scenario and how we can work together,” said Rapsang.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma said that several issues were raised by the MLAs. After suggestions were made it was decided that committees headed by MLAs will be formed for coordination with COVID management committees within the constituencies. This will ensure proper coordination among everyone involved in the COVID-19 management process.