Udayavni Special

Urge the centre to declare COVID-19 as National Calamity: K’taka Congress

Team Udayavani, Apr 19, 2020, 8:36 PM IST

Bengaluru: Congress in Karnataka on Sunday urged the state government to prevail upon the Centre to declare COVID-19 as a ‘National Calamity’ and provide economic and logistical support to contain spread of the virus.

Highlighting concerns over what it termed was lack of testing, dearth of rapid test kits, shortage of equipment, medicine and facilities, the principal opposition party said the government, without limiting itself to mere statements, should make arrangements on a “war-footing” to address the issues to protect the citizens. At the same time the government should ensure the people are provided basic requirements for subsistence, they said.

A delegation of Congress leaders under the leadership of party state unit chief D K Shivakumar and Leader of the Opposition and CLP leader Siddaramaiah met Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and submitted a memorandum. “We put forth our demands before him concerning health, farmers, unorganised labourers, food supply, farmers not getting market and price for their produce, among other things. Also, on mental anguish caused to the minority community, social boycott that is happening…. we brought it to his notice,” Shivakumar said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting,he said the party has assured the government of all cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. Given the fact that COVID-19 has spread across the globe, the state government should urge the centre to declare it as a National Calamity and provide all help to contain it like economic and logistic support, the memorandum, signed by Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah said. To contain the spread of coronavirus, the WHO protocol, which mandates testing at least 10,000 cases per 10 lakh population, should be done on a war footing, it said.

In its pursuit, labs should be opened in every district equipped with quality Rapid Test Kits, Personal Protective Equipment gear, gloves, sanitizers, medicine and sufficient number of doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff,it added.

Calling for release of the balance salary of doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, Anganavadi staff and ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers along with a special allowance of minimum one month’s salary, Congress said insurance and other social security benefits are given only to Doctors and the same should be extended to others. Opening of all the private hospitals and clinics that are closed, ensuring that Red-Zone areas are sealed and the social distancing is maintained scrupulously were among the other measures suggested by the party.

Highlighting the plight of farmers and urban dwellers who are suffering owing to non-supply of essentials due to the lockdown, the memorandum said the loss incurred by farmers should be made good by the government from out of the National Calamity Fund. Noting that Congress MLAs have complained against “widespread discrimination” in distribution of grants and relief given by the government and asking it to shun such things and treat all of them on an equal footing, it demanded that immediate arrangements be made to ensure that stranded migrant workers get back to their homes, if they so desired.

Demanding action against those targeting a particular community, including some BJP leaders, Congress also cautioned against alleged misuse of government relief measures “to appease voters for personal gain by some ruling party leaders. It demanded a compensation of Rs 10,000 a month for subsistence of working class who have been rendered jobless, broadband facility in rural areas for online teaching to students, were among the other suggestions by the party.

The Congress also suggested that an all-party delegation may be taken to the Delhi to persuade the Central government “to set right the injustice like in providing flood relief, GST share, aid to fight coronavirus”.

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