Gujarat to scale up healthcare infra for migrants after clashes break out
New Delhi: Gujarat administration has said that it would scale-up healthcare infrastructure and measures to provide for migrant workers after clashes between a section of these workers and the police led to the arrest of over 90 of them in Surat on Monday amid the 21-day nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
The state has reported 60 Covid-19 positive cases and six deaths to date. Gujarat has the sixth-highest number of both Covid-19 positive cases and fatalities.
Clashes broke out on Monday after a group of over 500 migrant workers in Surat defied the lockdown and took to the streets in a bid to get back to their native places, while the police tried to stop them from leaving.
On Sunday, the Centre had reminded states that the responsibility of preventing the movement of people across their boundaries during the lockdown rests with them. The Centre will hold the respective state police department and district magistrates to account for any lapses.
Gujarat government officials said that measures are in place to ensure that migrant workers are looked after during the lockdown. “The state government had instructed all industries, business houses and other firms to ensure effective implementation of the nationwide lockdown, which came into effect from March 25, and not allow their staff and labourers to travel outside. Sufficient lodging and boarding facilities were arranged to ensure labourers could remain indoors,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
The official said migrant labourers from adjoining states, who work predominantly in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, and also as craftsmen were provided help by the government and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“The vulnerable sections of the society, who don’t have ration but means of cooking, are being provided ration kits,” the official said. The government has ramped up screening facilities, said a second official amid concerns over the current testing rate of about 100 a day.
“A 1,200-bed hospital in Ahmedabad, a 500-bed facility in Surat, another 250-bed hospital each in Rajkot and Vadodara, respectively, have been made operational on an immediate basis. Helpline numbers for enquiries or grievances related to Covid-19 and to provide food and shelter to migrant workers from other states and to shelter people from Gujarat stranded in other states have started,” said a second official.
Gujarat claims to be the first state in the country to set up a dedicated 2,200-bed hospital to treat Covid-19 patients, including 1,583 and 635 beds in government-run and private sector, respectively. The state is increasing its facilities to test 1,200 samples a day in six government laboratories and four private ones. Besides, it claims to have 2,360 ventilators, of which 660 are in public hospitals and the rest in the private sector.
A statewide health survey is being conducted by over 10,000 female health workers and 4.46 crore people have, so far, been covered for early detection of Covid-19, the second official said.
“The chief minister (Vijay Rupani) is supervising the state’s response to the pandemic through the CM dashboard that connects him with the remotest local administration and doctors. He is speaking to the quarantined and infected people, and also on-ground medical staff such as doctors, nurses and paramedics over the phone using the JanSampark service,” said the first official.
The state administration claims it has 21 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains available, which is sufficient for another year, and over 17,000 fair price shops are also operational.
“The total distribution coverage of foodgrains in March is 82%, or 54 lakh ration cardholders out of a total of 65.62 lakh ration cardholders. Free food will be made available in April at an estimated cost of around Rs100 crore,” said the first official. Those people, who don’t have ration cards or documents, will also get free ration as a mamlatdar—a gazetted officer of the state government—at a taluka level have been authorised to distribute 10 kilograms per head under the Anna Brahma scheme.
The state government has also given relief to large and small industrial units from paying their electricity bills during the 21-day lockdown to lessen the economic downturn on the industry.