If foolishness had an award, the Raigarh district administration (Chhattisgarh) would’ve surely won it, or at least earn a nomination. In the middle of the second wave of COVID-19 in July, the administration organized a public hearing on the allocation of the Rajan coal block that saw footfall of 6,000-7,000 people in a super spreader event. In his report, Rajesh Gupta interviews advocate Tanmoy Banerjee who explains how he had written to the administration against the hearing because it is in violation of its own directive on public gatherings.
We have seen government apathy to be the cause of COVID spread in the past – the West Bengal state elections, for instance, and the Kumbh Mela. This video adds to the list of administrative blunders that contributed to the fire-like spread of the virus.
Speaking of apathy again, the municipal corporation of Borivali (Mumbai) chose the monsoon and second wave to demolish illegal huts in the area. A court order had barred municipalities from demolishing illegal constructions during the pandemic. Remember the social media outrage when part of actor Kangana Ranaut’s office was demolished in a fancy neighbourhood in Mumbai? There was no outrage of the scale this time when residents of Chukuwadi scrambled to find a roof. Our Community Correspondent (CC) Yashodhara Salve’s report shines some light on the plight as only community media can do.
Video Volunteers has recorded many such instances of carelessness and unpreparedness over the year. While some administrations have learnt from their mistakes, many others seem to send out the message that they just don’t care.
Take for example, the case of a shut primary healthcare centre at Jundli village in Dumka district, Jharkhand. Even for buying medicines, the villagers have to travel 15 km, spending Rs. 40 for every trip, reports CC Sanchita Pathak. Rs. 40, for urban middle-class population may not mean much, but for daily wage earners and agricultural workers, it is a significant chunk of their hard earned money. Fortunately for people of these villages, vaccination drives are being organized in a school nearby. A silver lining one would say!
Bharti Kumari has a similar story from the same state. The story of how taxpayers’ money is being wasted. A two storey building housing a public sub-health centre in Betul Khurd village in Jharkhand's Ramgarh district was constructed more than a decade ago but was never opened. “People have died because of lack of treatment,” said a resident. “Women deliver babies on the way because the accessible hospitals are that far”. Such is the condition. The administration did not even see an urgency to open the ready healthcare centre during the pandemic. “We are facing problems related to human resources,” explains a local administrator. She adds the building will be repaired, but when? Nobody can tell.
This article is part of a series called Second Wave Diaries that documents how the COVID 19 Second Wave affected the lives of millions in the hinterland and highlights stories of despair, hope, and everything in between across India after their migration from tier cities and towns. Read the other articles in the series by clicking the links below
The slum dwellers of Pestom Sagar Area, Chembur, Mumbai have developed some really thick resilience. Their slums have been tossed and toppled away so many times that their bitterness is turning to rage now.
The ASHA workers are instituted by the ‘ National Rural Health Mission.’ They are at the bottom of the pyramid - the interface between the community and Indian Public Health Delivery System, the first point of contact for millions of Indians to health care.