Srinagar, March 23: In the wake of lockdown due to the deadly cornavirus, government needs to take concrete steps to deal with the health and economic aspects of common people.
The allocations for health must be substantially increased to ensure that proper health care system is put in place. There should be a robust health system with adequate free testing, hospital facilities, isolation wards and ventilators across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
The dedication with which doctors and other health workers in J&K are dealing with the crisis is appreciable. The risk to our health-care workers is one of the great vulnerabilities of our health-care system in an epidemic like this and government must provide all the protective gear to them on priority.
Workers and employees who have to stay away from work due to coronavirus should be paid their wages while financial packages should be announced for sectors hit by the pandemic. The economy of Jammu and Kashmir was already severely hit due to clampdown imposed by the government last August and this will surely have huge effect on the already fragile economy of Kashmir.
With of people in the unorganised sector staring at loss of livelihood, there is need to increase the working days under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MNREGA) from the existing 100 days to 150 days. A fund to extend financial assistance to all workers in the informal and unorganised sectors, whose livelihood is affected besides a moratorium on bank loans for a year for small and medium enterprises and retail traders, is need of the hour.
The public distribution system (PDS) should be expanded to cover all essential commodities while ration kits should be provided to children’s houses in place of mid-day meal scheme in schools. Free ration through PDS to people, including people living below poverty line must be provided in this hour of crisis.
The non-payment of wages to daily wagers, casual workers, NREGA workers, contractuals, Anganwadi workers/helpers, ASHAs, CPWs, Mid-Day Meal workers and others from the last several months is another concern which the government must attend on priority. The livelihood issues of people have been totally ignored.
I also urge people of Jammu and Kashmir to follow the required precautions to ensure the containment of this pandemic.