‘This lapse could impose a heavy cost’: Lt Guv Baijal’s missive to Arvind Kejriwal
Covid-19: In his letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lt Governor Anil Baijal cautioned that the recent violation of the lockdown in Delhi could “lead to widespread infection and loss of lives”
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday declared that the authorities had been able to restore order on the capital’s streets in a sharp contrast to the situation on Friday and Saturday when tens of thousands of migrant workers gathered for a ride home to their hometowns in UP and Bihar.
“The situation had become a little alarming. In the last two days, the situation has come under control,” Kejriwal said right at the beginning of his video statement on Monday evening. The chief minister also spoke about how the authorities were strictly enforcing the lockdown and turning back people who tried to cross into Delhi from neighbouring Haryana to reach Ghaziabad. “There is very strict patrolling,” the chief minister said.
The chief minister’s emphasis on strict enforcement of the lockdown comes a day after Lt Governor Anil Baijal sent him a sharply-worded letter, asserting that the city government’s inability to maintain the lockdown could “lead to widespread infection and loss of lives”.
It nudged the elected government to act decisively at this stage.
“We must remember that we cannot afford to fail as this is a now or never time for all of us!,” the Lt Governor said.
Baijal’s letter referred to the numerous joint meetings that they had held where he was always told that all arrangements are in place to provide essential services to the poor and needy to ensure that they stay where they are.
He contrasted these assurances with the situation over the weekend when large crowds of migrant workers marched on foot with their families on roads.
“This unfortunate situation”, the Lt Governor said in his letter seen by HT, “shows there was perhaps a failure to make adequate and timely arrangements for food, water and shelter and to reach out to these poor workers, which led to their mass exodus”.
“This single lapse could defeat the very purpose of the ‘lockdown’ and impose a very heavy cost on the entire nation,” Baijal said.
The Lt Governor’s comment echoed the deep concern that had been expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah over the possibility that some of the migrant workers may have been infected and may have spread it to others.
It was on account of this concern that Home Secretary AK Bhalla had ordered all state governments to place the thousands of migrant workers in government-run quarantine facilities before they can be allowed to return home.