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Kerala Opposition moots staggered way out of lockdown

- Expert panel submit report

Thiruvananthapuram, April 8:
Kerala’s opposition coalition United Democratic Front lead by Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala has submitted a set of recommendations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi which include a roadmap for the smooth lifting of the ongoing lockdown. Acting as the responsible opposition which lent all its support for the Covid 19 preventive measures of state and central governments, Mr. Chennithala constituted an expert committee headed by deputy leader of opposition Dr. M.K Muneer MLA to suggest measures to be taken by the government for the smooth transition from lockdown to the normalcy.

The committee listed down eight point exit strategy which focuses on removing the lockdown in a staggered approach at a district level with an emphasis given to hotspots to avoid further spread of virus ensuring smooth restart of the economy. This approach is tuned to the unique needs of each district and all the districts should also be categorized as per their risk levels, the report said.

The report has been also submitted to Chief Ministers of all states, former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, senior Congress leaders and Members of Parliament and State Assembly of Kerala.

The committee recommended enhancing Covid19 rapid testing across the country further and widening testing target to the tune of 500 tests per one lakh population. As part of improving infection prevention and disease control, the government has to provide PPE and infection control logistics to all health care workers and hospitals. Preparedness for any eventuality in terms of PPE, Ventilators, Manpower, and training and equipping the private sector for treating corona and non-corona patients should be fast tracked. The committee outlined a framework for proper categorization of different services to be restored after lockdown on the basis of priority.

The key factors considered are the essentiality of the service and the possibility of having a social distancing during work. A step-by-step approach is necessary for each sector along with conditions that need to be considered for each sector. The panel which also include former cabinet secretary and vice chairman of Kerala State Planning Board Mr. K. M. Chandrasekhar suggested some key points for economic revival. There is a need for a comprehensive economic stimulus package in addition to the ones already announced after considering all the industries.

Banks including cooperative banks should be encouraged to give loans without collateral to relatives of NRIs to enable them to support family members. There is a great deal of research and development activity that has been taken up in the private and Public sector on COVID related areas. These studies and researches needed to be streamlined and coordinated and ensure commercial application of research findings.

To enhance national level coordination of COVID 19prevention measures, the committee suggested to constitute an all party panel at central and state levels for proper communication and this panel must meet at least twice a month. The Prime Minister must hold weekly video conferences with Chief Ministers of all States. At the official level, the Cabinet Secretary should hold weekly Tele conferences with Chief Secretaries.

Other recommendation includes allowing migrant labourers to enter workforce immediately once their district identified low of medium risk area. The migrant workers from outside any district should undergo quarantine before entering the workforce. Unauthorized medical practices by non qualified individuals must be stopped. 

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