COVID-19 2nd Wave & Infrastructure Crisis; One would ask ‘How could India remain in an illusion’?


Nearly whole of COVID-19 common load is on Government hospitals with Jr. Doctors as Warrior leads
An era of Social Audit & Humble public participation through feedback to Prime Leadership must start

A Look through the mist

In case one goes by the data and statements released on behalf of the governments from March 2020 till 3rd week of March 2021 common man was made to believe, rather, any one would believe that India had almost defeated COVID-19 going by the ‘price’ that even many developed countries had paid. Impressions had also been cultivated that India had in the meantime created on ground a very large health support infrastructure that could be taken as a ‘gained asset’ for future.
But suddenly huge unmanageable numbers of COVID patients even needing oxygen support started pouring in even in the National Capital . On 15- 04-2021 3,52, 991 new COVID cases and 2812 deaths were reported in India. It was so ‘vulturous’ a disclosure when Luv Agarwal Union Jt Secretary Health in a press conference on 26-04-2021 informed that it was a 2nd Corona wave and as on 25th April 2021 our medical oxygen production capacity was just 900 Tons( I may be corrected in case notes taken by me had some error) which necessitated ordering that there will be no supply of oxygen for industrial use and even SAIL is to release oxygen for medical use from its buffer stocks. Prime Minister taking first note of the growing requirements approved from The PM Cares Fund financial allocation for setting up 551 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants at public health facilities in the country ( statement from the PMO on 25-04-2021 ).Delhi HC asked Delhi Govt to provide details of those who died for want of oxygen within 4 days, even adding that why should officials be tried for killings who were responsible for delays?
Suddenly a Ghost era of stress had emerged shaking one and all in India, media had started reporting that fearing again a total lock down immigrant labour had started leaving Mumbai ( one TV news channel on 26th April went to the extent of even reporting that nearly 9 lakh labour had already left Mumbai and many were waiting for last 3 days for tickets. Maharashtra Government went to the extent of expressing that the State will also import three foreign vaccines so that the vaccination is expedited.
One would ask “How could India remain in such an imaginable illusion” ?
News videos are viral on social media mostly showing the shortfalls in the health cover infrastructure although nearly whole of community health care load is being taken by the government hospitals / dispensaries with the Junior Doctors as the Warrior leads.
One video that had gone viral on 08-05-2021 has been of the Corona positive patients who had been sitting/ lying with oxygen cylinders in the lawns of Government Chest Diseases Hospital Jammu since beds inside were fully occupied, no doubt the cylinders had been provided by the CD Hospital management. At the same time the video also reflected how over stressed the management of the CD Hospital must have been on date.
There could be more references, but the same are not being quoted here since the purpose of this story is not to criticise any one or do simple fault finding with the doctors but instead the purpose is to look for the reasons due to which even “whatever” the Heads of Governments have been sincerely venturing to do has not satisfactorily yielded for common cause ?
At the National Level the Union Government with Narendra Modi in the lead and in States/ UTs like UT of J&K the leaders like L.G. Manoj Sinha have been formulating and sanctioning policies and programmes on 24×7 basis for ‘COVID-19’. But what the colleagues down below and the ‘Bureaucracy’ (that in today’s system of governance is supposed to ‘possess’ all categories of ‘professional’ acumen)does to get the plans executed on ground is what that actually matters. But The 2nd wave of corona in India has in a way caught the ‘Indian Bosses’ napping who had after March 2020 believed more in issuing press releases of decisions taken/sanctions made and have been ‘spending’ more time and energies to seize any opportunity for saying a few words in the praise of Narendra Modi instead of actually working truthfully on ground to fulfil the dream projects / relief programmes sanctioned Prime Minister .The ministerial colleagues and bureaucracy were supposed to provide proper feed back to PM which they have not been doing so far .
So, to fill the gap truthful feedback has to be provided to Narendra Modi and his Lieutenants like Manoj Sinha of what actually the bureaucracy has got done on ground (beyond press statements / notes) in terms of the decisive and financial inputs sanctioned by the Governments. And feedback will have to be now provided by the common man and the voluntary sector on day basis.
It has to be accepted that in the system that we have , as regards health sector the policy and local sanctions are in the hands of bureaucracy and the Doctors have to delivery only through what has been provided to them in the form of infrastructure.
It was reported on 09-10-2020 quoting Atal Dulloo Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education UT of J&K that in view of the deficiencies exposed during COVID-19 pandemic all associated hospitals, district hospitals, and some Primary Health Centres (PHCs) will be covered under a Rs 223 cr state of art Oxygen Generating Project for which tenders had already been floated & bids are being received for which in a week’s time from then work would be allotted and around 37 hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir will have dedicated oxygen plant some whereby mid February 2021 (in the next four months from Oct 2020). But the status shows no follow up as regards delivery was done since there was not even one oxygen generating plant functional out of that in mid February 2021. What was the bureaucracy doing after issuing press statement in Oct 2020 must be investigated.
Surely to a great relief and solace of the common masses quoting Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Atal Dulloo a government release has appeared in the media on 09-05-2021 informing that the hospital managements have been asked to provide oxygen as per requirement of patient ensuring that no one suffers on this account adding that Chief Mechanical Engineers of both the divisions too have been asked to ensure speedy completion of oxygen generating plants being raised.
It has also been reported that ever concerned LG Manoj Sinha has approved that The J&K administration will distribute COVID kits (Oxymeter, Medicine set, Paracetamol, Cough/throat medicine, an antiviral like Ivermectin, an antibiotic and Zinc + vitamin (zincovit)) to all people who are testing positive for Coronavirus in the Union Territory (UT) from 09-05-2021 for equipping people to fight this deadly COVID-19 for which Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir division and Jammu division will organise distribution in their divisions. Surely a very pious and meaningful gesture on the part of Manoj Sinha. But in case the kits are not distributed as timely routine plan and feed back is not given on day basis to Manoj Sinha he will think that his pious mission has yielded as has been the case with 37 oxygen generating plants that were reported through media with great bang that the work will be completed in February 2021 but were not there.
Similarly Government has also retained Defence Research and Development Organisation for making ready by last week of May 2021 two 500 bedded COVID hospitals at Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu and Reshi Pora in Budgam, Kashmir. The status on completion of these worth rendering service must reach Sinha also through public sources. Let a new era of public participation/ humble social audit start.
(Daya Sagar, is a senior journalist and analyst of J&K Affairs, can be reached at [email protected])