In the guidelines issued by the Centre on how the second phase of the lockdown is to proceed, a detailed and calibrated course of action has been charted out with regard to rebooting economic activity. The fundamental principle to be followed in the various activities to be resumed is social distancing and sanitisation. It, therefore, becomes the duty of the state governments and industrialists to ensure these are adhered to strictly so that further relaxations can take place. It may be noted that, despite renewed pressure being applied by various forces – known and unknown – through Bandra like incidents, to let migrants travel home, this has been strictly prohibited. Having taken early action against the pandemic, it would be criminal for India to let go of whatever advantage it has gained by succumbing to sentimental arguments. In this regard, the Union Government needs to pressure the states to properly carry out their responsibilities in this regard – some have been heavily remiss.
Uttarakhand remains ahead on many parameters, but it cannot afford to rest on its laurels. At the same time, though, it needs to tweak its rules so that relief can be provided where needed. While the central guidelines require the opening of veterinary hospitals, many of these remain non-operational in the state. These should be made immediately functional so that the present difficulties being faced by the animal husbandry sector and pet-owners are relieved. This is particularly urgent as lack of vaccination could lead to the spread of other, even more dangerous diseases. This should include private veterinarians and pet food shops.
There is also the ban on use of four wheelers that denies senior citizens the freedom to move around even in the ‘open’ hours. They need to purchase essential items, visit the banks, doctors and clinics, etc. They cannot be expected to do so on scooters. It is not even necessary that this relief be provided on a daily basis – a couple of times a week would suffice.
The political opposition has focused for some time on the ‘lack of testing’, as though test kits were available in stock for a disease that had not been heard of before. The implication is that the government is not taking the necessary action. One method being increasingly employed these days is ‘pool’ testing – putting together samples of several people and testing them. This would help identify those positive at less cost, leading to individual testing of those in an identified pool. Uttarakhand should take the lead in this based on data available at the present, so that its relatively better performance continues unhampered.