PM Modi meets ministers, reviews preparedness for 3rd Covid wave, jab drive
The meeting, which was conducted virtually, began at 4.30pm and concluded at 8.30pm, the people quoted above said. According to two people aware of the details, PM Modi told his ministers to work hard to ensure that the guard against Covid-19 was not relaxed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the Union council of ministers to review the functioning of the ministries, the preparation for the anticipated third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ongoing vaccination drive against the infectious disease, people aware of the matter said.
The meeting, which was conducted virtually, began at 4.30pm and concluded at 8.30pm, the people quoted above said.
According to two people aware of the details, PM Modi told his ministers to work hard to ensure that the guard against Covid-19 was not relaxed. He said the government will have to make sure that people remain alert and adhere to Covid-appropriate behaviour. He also underlined that the government will have to work hard to counter the disappointment on the ground over its Covid-19 response during the second wave, the people added.
The PM also told the ministers that while the focus remained on Covid-19 management, the ministers should not take their eyes off issues related to governance.
According to a person aware of the developments, NITI Aayog member VK Paul made a presentation at the beginning of the meeting on the vaccination drive, saying it had been accelerated to prevent the spread of the virus and to prepare for a likely third wave of infections. Presentations on the work accomplished by the ministries of telecom, civil aviation, and road transport were also made, the person added.
“Road transport and civil aviation ministries’ presentations were to show what we have been able to achieve so far and what challenges lie ahead in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said a senior official present at the meeting, asking not to be named.
The PM instructed the ministers to oversee all aspects of the vaccination drive and to acquaint themselves with the problems being faced by the people in getting the vaccines, the first person said. He urged the ministers to conduct visits on the ground to oversee the mass vaccination and to address vaccine hesitancy among people.
“He said that Indians have a tendency to take it easy as soon as things seem to improve and so, extra caution has to be observed,” the person quoted above said.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister, in his radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat, made a reference to vaccine hesitancy and urged people to believe what doctors and scientists advised. While asking people not to believe rumours, the Prime Minister cited his own example and that of his mother to drive home the point about the need for vaccines.
A third person who was aware of the developments said the ministries were asked to give specifics about the completion of work allocated to them; the spending from budget allowance and accomplishments of the past two years, with focus on the work that was done during the Covid-19 period.
Modi also discussed the preparations for the 75th anniversary of India’s freedom struggle, which is being celebrated as Amrit Mahotsav, said the second person.
Wednesday’s meeting came close on the heels of a series of review meetings conducted by the Prime Minister over the past month. Several minister, in batches, met the Prime Minister and gave a detailed presentation on the work accomplished by their respective ministries. The meeting took place at a time when there is speculation that a possible cabinet reshuffle could take place soon.