Imphal, March 27
Popular Front of India Chairman O M A Salam in a press statement welcomed the lockdown aimposed in the country in view of preventing the spread of corona pandemic. However, he expressed dissatisfaction that enough preparations have not been made along the execution of such large scale restrictions.
The steady increase in the number of infections in various parts of the country indicates that Covid 19 will likely pose serious public health challenge in India too. As of now the only universally accepted means to prevent this catastrophe is social distancing. Popular Front chairman welcomed the three weeks long curfew imposed by central and other restrictions of state governments in this regard. He appealed to the people to co-operate with these measures so that we can overcome the challenge together.
However the dramatic way the Prime Minister announced a 21- day-long nationwide curfew without adequate preparations that address the genuine concerns of the citizens was disappointing. There are indications that the announcement caused unhealthy panic among people.
Rs. 15000 crore announced by the Prime Minister is too inadequate to face nation’s Corona medical emergency. There was nothing in the address to support the vast majority of citizens who are poor daily wage labourers and to ensure food supply. In order to avoid people dying of virus, we should not let them starve to death. It is the duty of both central and state governments to ensure the fundamental needs of the people.
Popular Front Chairman urged the central and state governments the following support measures with immediate effect till the return of normalcy.
1) To distribute special monthly allowance to all families Below Poverty Line.
2) To distribute free food kits to all those in need through PDS (Ration shops).
3) To declare steps to ensure that there is no food scarcity and that there is no price hike.
4) To ensure that the curfew doesn’t affect the transportation of food, medicine and other basic items across the country.
5) To allow essential shops to open full day to avoid rush and panic during limited hours of buying.
O M A Salam has reminded that it is primarily the duty of the government and also civil society groups to see that people quarantined at their homes are not turned unrest and lawless due to hunger and denial of basic necessities.