STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: LG Manoj Sinha Administration needs to urgently adopt measures to protect the J&K’s poorest and most vulnerable people if COVID-19 containment and relief measures prove inadequate. Previous lockdowns have already disproportionately hurt marginalized communities due to loss of livelihood and lack of food, shelter, health, and other basic needs. The government does have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of the population by protecting their livelihood.
This was stated by JKPCC Working President Raman Bhalla after meeting people from different areas facing economic hardships and reacting over Govt’s decision to impose lockdown initially from Friday afternoon and then extending it to 9 PM on Friday to Monday morning in a hasty manner said that though lockdown is inevitable to save precious lives but its impact will fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable, people living in poverty, the working poor, women and children, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups.
He noted that the pandemic has laid bare challenges such as structural inequalities, inadequate healthcare, and the lack of universal social protection and the heavy price societies are paying as a result.
Economic recovery plans should prioritize at-risk workers, such as those in the informal sector; protect micro, small and medium enterprises, including those owned by women; and involve an expansion of universal social protection, said Bhalla.
He said authorities should recognize that malnourishment and untreated illness will exacerbate problems and should ensure that the most marginalized don’t bear an unfair burden from lack of essential supplies.
Bhalla demanded central government to announce a relief package to provide free food and cash transfers to the poor and vulnerable populations, and health insurance for healthcare workers, among other things.
The government should ensure that those at heightened risk, including sanitation workers (safai karamcharis), community health staff (ASHA workers), early childhood caregivers (anganwadi workers), and people such as midday meal workers – often poorly paid public service officials – who are at the front lines during this crisis, are provided protective equipment, medical benefits, and timely wages.