In his weekly Sunday samvaad programme, the Union Health Minister was speaking on the utilisation of funds which were released for control of COVID-19.
Of the total Rs 3,000 crore granted in the first phase to all the states and UT administrations, he said that Chandigarh utilised only 47.8 per cent of the funds allocated to them for the control of the pandemic.
Among the other two worst performers mentioned by the Union Health Minister were Maharashtra and Delhi with utilisation of funds — 42.5 per cent and 75.4 per cent respectively.
These funds were released by the government for the control of the pandemic.
Adviser Manoj Parida said that things on which states spent money were not required in Chandigarh as they already had adequate infrastructure.
“States spend money on reimbursing private hospitals, publicity campaigns, setting up temporary hospital, reimbursement to private ambulances and purchase of extra medical eqipment. We did not require those things here since we already have adequate infrastructure,” the UT Adviser said.
Chandigarh has already been facing flak for not only poor testing but also its poor facilities in the COVID care centres. Though for few days the tests were increased, they were again brought down to 700-1000.
Patients lodged in COVID care centres of Chandigarh had complained how there was no proper food served and roofs were leaking. Patients lodged at Sood Dharamshala had shared their experience, along with videos and pictures of the place. The patients had alleged that in the absence of proper food, the positive patients were either ordering food from online apps or requesting their family members to get them food. Following the reports, the Administrator had ordered officials to ensure facilities at the centres.
After the Union Health Minister’s statement, city-based activists said that UT could have utilised the COVID funds in Covid care centres where patients are suffering due to poor infrastructure or ramping up medical facilities at the level of dispensaries that could have really helped in controlling the pandemic.
Ajay Jagga, lawyer and social activist, said that he feels this is the right time to review the administrative structure of Chandigarh.
“You see the condition of COVID care centres. The situation speaks for itself,” he said. “Isn’t it the right time to review the administrative set up of the city?”
The chairman of Federation of Sectors Welfare Associations of Chandigarh, Baljinder Singh Bittu, said that there was no proper sanitisation, what to talk of the facilities in the centres.
“They don’t carry proper sanitisation which they used to do earlier when COVID cases were reported in a locality or any house,” Bittu said.
He added, “With the given funds, they could have at least set up local control rooms or given proper testing equipment to local dispensaries so that people don’t fear to go to hospitals. So much could have been done with the funds. A proactive approach is required.”
Councillor Devinder Singh Babla felt that there is a lot more where the city administration could have utilised the funds .
“They could have utilised the funds in ramping up medical facilities. At least pulse oximeters could be given to people from economically weaker section who cannot afford and were infected with COVID. Sanitisation in houses where people were infected could be done. This would have also helped in control of the pandemic. Chandigarh wouldn’t have seen over 13,000 cases today had they utilised the funds. They don’t want to work at all,” he said.
The councillor added that proper information, education, communication (IEC) activities on wearing masks and maintaining social distance in markets should be held.
“When they have funds, why don’t they use them? If they use public address system to make people aware of wearing masks which many have become lax about, that will also help,” he said.
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