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Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. (ANI )
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. (ANI )

Confident that migrants will soon return to second home: Gujarat CM

  • The state has been successful in curbing the spread of covid-19 in Ahmedabad, Surat and Gujarat by adopting cluster containment, intense surveillance and aggressive testing strategy

NEW DELHI: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with states and union territories to discuss covid-19 and related situations, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said the deadly disease has hit the world, and in such a scenario, it is wrong to draw conclusions on any administration based on the numbers. In an email interview to Mint, Rupani also said migrant workers are sure to return to their "second home" with industries in the state resuming operations and creating job opportunities.

Edited excerpts:

Gujarat has the fourth highest number of covid-19 cases and is second in terms of death. Where did the state go wrong?

In my opinion, the covid-19 crisis can only be overcome if we adopt an aggressive testing strategy for symptomatic patients as per ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) guidelines and provide them quality healthcare, especially those in critical stage of infection, and those with co-morbid conditions, for a fast-paced recovery. At the same time, we also have to ensure sufficient stock of medical supplies.

I am happy to share that the recovered patients are about three times the number of active cases as of today.

At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the coronavirus is a pandemic, which has enveloped the entire world today. In such a scenario, it is not correct to judge any administration based on the numbers. Rather, one should focus on the response of the administration in handling the pandemic.

At the same time, it is unfortunate that over 1,400 people have succumbed to covid-19 in Gujarat. However, our analysis of the deceased patients revealed that a majority of them were aged, suffering from co-morbid conditions and admitted during critical condition. The life of each and every citizen is equally important for us. And even today, my administration is on its toes to identify and treat patients in order to curb the crisis as early as possible.

We are in a comfortable position today with a recovery rate of 69%, which is one of the highest in India.

Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara, the biggest economic centres of the state, together have the highest numbers of cases. What steps has the state taken to control the infection?

We had 6,136 active cases in Gujarat as of 13 Jun. 15,883 patients have been successfully treated and discharged. In Ahmedabad alone, 11,108 patients have recovered and there are 3,219 active cases in the city. Surat and Vadodara have 698 and 476 active cases, respectively. 1,716 patients have recovered in Surat and 1,001 in Vadodara.

Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara are densely populated. In addition to that, they are thriving economic centres and witness a massive movement of people to and from various parts of Gujarat.

The Old City of Ahmedabad is 600 years old. Similarly, parts of Surat and Vadodara date back to olden times. And in such areas, a large number of people reside even today. However, we were successful in curbing the infection by adopting cluster containment, intense surveillance and aggressive testing strategy in these areas.

What is your strategy to bring down the number of cases? With the economy reopening, it is feared that there could be a spike in covid-19 cases, are you planning some kind of medical intervention?

We had already resumed economic activities in accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines for lockdown 2.0. For instance, we decided to resume APMCs (agriculture produce market committees) to ensure that the farmers are able to sell their agriculture produce and earn amid the lockdown due to covid-19. We took utmost care of safety protocols during the same. This has enabled the farmers to sell more than 1 crore 10 lakh quintals of agriculture produce in 140 APMCs of Gujarat. Industrial units outside containment zones and municipal limits were also re-started from 20 April, and within a week, around seven lakh workers resumed their duties in 45,000 units.

At the same time, my administration has ensured a steady supply of essential items like milk, fruits, vegetables, medicines, masks, etc. Shops and commercial units have been operational in large parts of the state from 19 May. The incubation period of the virus ranges from 5-8 days and I am happy to share that we have not witnessed any sharp spike in the covid-19 cases in such areas.

Amid all this, we also decided to have an expert group of doctors who could provide timely guidance and support to the state’s medical and administrative staff in curbing covid-19. The committee will provide suggestions to the state government on public health system, health facilities, treatment protocol, etc.

How many industrial units and MSMEs are affected by reverse migration of labourers? What is the state government doing to bring migrant labourers in the state?

MSMEs are the backbone of Gujarat’s economy. There are around 32 lakh MSME units within the state. At present, more than 80% of these units are operational. As many as 30 lakh labourers have resumed their duties and the present power consumption by the industrial sector stands at 7500 MW (which is 85% of the normal power consumption).

Given the present scenario, the units have the freedom to run longer work shifts with less workforce. However, they are bound by necessary safety protocols. Timely decision to restart industries has boosted their confidence, and a large population of the labourers has returned to work.

As far as the labour migration is concerned, the situation was very different during the lockdown. During distressing times, the workers wanted to go to their native states to meet their family members. Keeping this into consideration, we operated more than 1,000 Shramik trains in co-ordination with the Ministry of Railways and concerned states to send more than 14.5 lakh migrant workers back home with dignity. We took care of safety protocols, and provided them with food and water during their journey.

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the covid-19 crisis has affected developed nations across the globe and crippled their economies. However, with industries resuming operations and creating job opportunities, I am confident that the labourers would soon return to their second home – Gujarat.

Ahead of the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, Congress and other opposition parties have alleged the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of wrongdoings. How crucial are these elections?

If you look at Congress on a national level, it lacks leadership and vision. The last two Lok Sabha elections have shown them their place.

In Gujarat, the situation of Congress is worse. It is a divided faction. The BJP has been serving the people of Gujarat for more than two decades with visionary policies and the agenda of holistic development. If MLAs from Congress are resigning, the party should introspect instead of blaming others.

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