AAPSU proposes a week’s shutdown of offices, religious places, markets

ITANAGAR, 6 May: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has asked the state government to take lessons from last year’s Covid-19 management, and proposed a week’s shutdown of all government and private offices, religious places, prayer and fasting centres, markets and similar places of public convergence all over the state.

In a letter to Chief Minister Pema Khandu, the AAPSU said that, while all types of public events, cultural events, sports tournaments, dharnas, rallies, etc, should be banned, local vegetable vendors, small vegetable shops and meat and fish sellers should be allowed to sell their perishable goods with strict restrictions.

The union also placed several other suggestions to manage the second wave of Covid-19 in Arunachal, which included a complete ban on entry of outsiders for one week via all entry points of the state, with the exception of those carrying essential commodities.

A curfew all across the state, under relevant provisions of the law, for 15 days to discourage unnecessary public gathering and enforce Covid appropriate behaviour among the masses was also proposed.

The AAPSU also requested the state government to immediately hold parleys with the railways ministry “for requisition of isolation coaches for Arunachal Pradesh for use as Covid care centres for Covid positive patients who have mild to moderate symptoms, besides utilizing the assets of the Naharlagun railway station as a Covid care centre.”

“As the department of health has officially made clear that it expects 30,000 new cases in the coming four months, the state government should work on increasing the number of ICU wards and oxygen beds, in addition to making PPE kits, medical equipment, manpower, testing kits, ventilator, etc, available on a war footing. Existing public assets like auditoriums, stadiums, meeting halls, etc, should be converted into Covid care centres in advance and all necessary facilities should be made available at such centres,” the union said.

It asked the state government to consider directing all district administrations across the state to start langars to provide cooked meals and rations to the poor and downtrodden sections of the society, “with directives for immediate sanction of necessary funds for the same.”

“All the Arunachal Bhavans outside the state should immediately start functioning as Arunachal Pradesh Covid helpline centres to provide necessary assistance and guidance to people of the state staying outside, including liaising with officials of other state governments during medical emergencies,” AAPSU president Hawa Bagang said.

With regard to a lockdown, curfew or any similar restrictions anywhere in the state, the union recommended that proper timings and modalities should be made for those engaged in farming, and similar arrangements for those wanting to exercise in the open.

It also urged the government to disburse stipends/scholarships to all the eligible students, besides pressing for disbursement of old-age pensions, monthly payment of salary to all contingency and contractual workers working under various departments and schemes of the state/union government, MNREGA work grants for all eligible beneficiaries, free ration to valid cardholders and BPLs, and monthly grant for both registered and unregistered labourers, etc, by the state government to mitigate the problems of the lower strata of the society and the unorganized sectors.

Other suggestions included filling up all the manpower gaps in critical areas of the health sector at one go; a statewide ban on weekly bazaars for at least one month; setting up voluntary Covid testing centres in all wards of the ICR; opening shops on alternate days in all major towns for at least one month to minimize gatherings in markets; proper maintenance of work shifts for all frontline workers (FLW) and nutritious and healthy food for the FLWs on duty; starting a 24-hour statewide telemedicine counselling service to discourage people from making frequent visits to hospitals and health centres for minor ailments; restriction on the number of people travelling inside a private vehicle to 2-3, considering the nature of emergency; enforce earlier restrictions with regard to travel in public transport service like Tempo, bus, Trekkers, etc; and strict penalty on those not wearing masks.

Bagang, who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 and briefly stayed at one of the CCCs in Itanagar, also urged the government to look into the needs of patients and FLWs in the CCCs, which include healthy and nutritious diet for both the patients as well as the FLWs; hygienic bathroom facilities; separate facility for Covid positive pregnant women and their babies, and other similar suggestions.