Dimapur, April 18: A group of research scholar and alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, who have been closely observing the state of affairs in Nagaland since the outbreak of Covid-19, have expressed deep concern about the disparity between the state Government’s announcements in the media about being “fully prepared” and the real situation on the ground.
In an Open Letter to Chief Minister of Nagaland, the research scholars stated that Nagaland Government had received Rs 20.50 crores as first installment against Rs 176.52 crores from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) towards State Disaster and Response Mitigation Fund (SDRMF) of Nagaland.
“As of now the state government has allotted only 25% of the received funds when we are at a crucial period of mitigating a potential disaster. This is woefully inadequate and also demoralising for those working at the forefront and putting themselves on the line,” they stated adding, “Also DoNER will be releasing Rs 25 crores for the Northeastern states.”
Stating that there is no dearth of funds, the research scholars demanded that a larger amount should be released towards meeting the exigencies of COVID-19.
The scholars further said the government should use this crisis as an opportunity to extensively upgrade the healthcare facilities in all the districts and that there should be no compromise in the utilisation of central funds to expedite the procurement of medical equipment, ventilators, and to ensure fully functional quarantine facilities and BSL-3 labs.
In light of the increasing reports of healthcare workers, sanitation workers, and support staff like ambulance drivers being ostracised, facing social stigma, eviction by landlords, and sleeping outdoors for fear of infecting their families, the research scholars asked the government to make immediate provisions for temporary accommodation, food, and rest stations for health professionals and frontline workers directly handling Covid-19 cases.
They also stated that procurement of high grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be made a priority and with urgency. They asked the government to ensure that the medical staffs receive training on handling Covid-19 patients and disinfection as per World Health Organisation (WHO) protocol. All healthcare workers including sanitation staff, drivers, and support staff should be provided with high quality protective gear immediately, they added.
In a 21-point letter to the Chief Minister, the research scholars said that they agree with the Chief Minister that since extraordinary times calls for extraordinary leadership, he would rise to the occasion through exemplary vision, promptness, generosity, transparency and with “spirit of oneness” with the citizens in their struggles and hope for a Nagaland that triumphs over Covid-19 as well as the ills that plague Naga polity.
They also urged the citizens to cooperate with the state Government. (Full Text of Open Letter) (Page News Service)