The opening of border along Delhi is the “primary cause of spike in Covid-19 cases” in Haryana, its Home Minister Anil Vij said Thursday even as Supreme Court directed the two neighbouring governments and that of the Uttar Pradesh to devise a common platform enabling inter-state movement in the National Capital region (NCR) on a single-pass.
Of the six Haryana districts that share borders with Delhi, three — Gurgaon, Faridabad and Sonipat — account for more than 72 per cent of state’s total Covid cases.
“Proximity with Delhi is the main reason for rising number of Covid cases in Haryana. The nearer a district is, higher is the number. For instance, Gurgaon is the worst affected followed by Faridabad and Sonipat. Jhajjar (which too shares border with National Capital) too has got a large number of cases, but comparatively lower than the other three districts because it is a bit far from Delhi,” Vij said during an interaction with The Indian Express.
Despite being the senior most BJP leader in Haryana Cabinet, Vij’s dissent against opening of borders with Delhi or lifting restrictions during lockdown 3.0 and 4.0 did not carry much weigh. Majority of the decisions regarding imposing or easing restrictions are being taken by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in consultation with the Union government.
Sources told The Indian Express that Khattar had been taking key decisions since lockdown 1.0 was imposed without holding much discussions with his Cabinet colleagues.
However, Vij, who is also state’s health and urban local bodies minister, said, “Under the current circumstances, when Union government has opened all the borders, not much can be done except for keeping ourselves prepared. Haryana is fully prepared to fight this pandemic”.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan earlier in the day said Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh must hold a meeting and consider evolving a common policy and portal to facilitate inter-state movement in the NCR. The bench said a recommendation suggests that there should be one common pass for NCR which should be recognised in these states.
After keeping them sealed for nearly three weeks, Haryana opened the borders with Delhi and lifted all restrictions on inter-state movement from June 1 after MHA issued fresh guidelines for Unlock 1.0. Even as Haryana opened its borders, Delhi government imposed restrictions on the inter-state movement. Consequently, Khattar came out with a statement saying that the inter-state borders shall now be opened only after mutual discussion with the Delhi government.
Right from the beginning, Vij had been vehemently against lifting all restrictions “in one go”. The lockdown 4.0 (from May 18 till May 31) and last four days have proved disastrous especially for Haryana’s border districts with Delhi. Gurgaon and Faridabad together comprise more than half of the state’s total active Covid cases, as on date. For the last six days, Gurgaon alone had been reporting more than 100 cases every day. Till Thursday noon, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Sonipat had 1,461 active cases out of 2021 total active Covid cases in Haryana. Gurgaon tops with 1,015 active cases, while Faridabad has 342 and Sonipat 102.
Elaborating on the steps that the state is taking to tackle the soaring numbers, especially in Gurgaon and Faridabad, Vij said, “I have ordered that 100 beds each in Gurgaon and Faridabad’s private hospitals be reserved for Covid patients. Committees have been constituted under the Divisional Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners and Chief Medical Officers will be the members. These committees will finalise the admission rates and other modalities after discussions with private hospitals. I have approved the file and the beds will be reserved soon”.
Talking about the financial aspect of this decision, Vij said, “The private hospitals were refusing admission to Covid patients, till date. But, with this decision patients will be admitted in those hospitals where the beds will be reserved. Patients will have to bear the cost of their treatment. However, till the time the beds will remain vacant in these private hospitals, part payment will be made by the state government”.
Vij has also directed the state’s health department to conduct an analysis on the increasing number of patients especially in Gurgaon and Faridabad. “The health department is collecting details and analysing the recent patients who have tested positive for coronavirus, especially in the two border districts. Once we analyse how these people have contacted Covid, then we can take further corrective steps”.
On state’s preparedness, Vij said, “As on date, we have 26,787 quarantine beds; 8,929 isolation beds; 2086 ICU beds and 1025 ventilators. We also have 1,20,918 PPE kits and 2,93,888 N 95 masks available with us”.
He said that there was an urgent need of increasing the number of dedicated beds for Covid patients in the state.
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