Mizoram Congress on Wednesday demanded the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) government headed by chief minister Zoramthanga to provide reliefs to daily wage labourers, small traders and those earning livings by driving vehicles, who have been affected by lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
In a statement, the Congress blamed the State Government for allegedly being negligent to tackle the present situation arising out of the COVID-19 outbreak and for its unpreparedness to fight the pandemic.
It alleged that the government used Rapid Antibody Test (RAT) kits for testing stranded people, who have returned from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on May 15, instead of RT-PCR machines as a result of which the State has to be placed under total lockdown to prevent community spread.
Citing that the total lockdown is greatly affecting normal life, the Congress asked the state government to provide assistance to poor people, especially daily labourers, small traders and those earning a living by operating vehicles in order to rehabilitate them.
It also urged the government to stop awarding contracts to MNF workers.
The Congress also accused the Finance department of refusing to release money to the Health department for battle against the COVID-19 spread.
It further alleged that the government has miserably failed to tackle the Covid-19 crisis and reluctant to purchase RT-PCR in time.
Meanwhile, an official said the Government is making massive efforts to fight the present crisis.
He claimed that Mizoram was one of the best among Indian states to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and that the Government has provided assistance amounting to crores of rupees to stranded people, volunteers and those in need.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the state Health department said there was no such occasion in which the Finance department withheld or delayed payment to the Health department to be used in the battle against COVID-19.
“In early February when the Covid-19 was spread to the country, the Finance department could not release Rs 132 lakh sought by the health department because the department has already finalized the state’s annual budget to be passed in the assembly. However, later, Rs 500 lakh was re-appropriated to the Health department to fight COVID-19,” the statement said.
The statement claimed that chief minister Zoramthanga, who also holds the Finance portfolio, had repeatedly said that any required financial help would be extended to the Health department to fight COVID-19.
On RAT and TR-PCR, the Health department said RAT was used as surveillance as per the Central Government guidelines and the State Government took time to install RT-PCR machine at Zoram Medical College (ZMC) as it require at least Bio-safety level-3 or 2 (BSL3/BSL2) laboratory, the statement said.
However, as a result of massive efforts by the chief minister, health ministers and officials, RT-PCR machine was installed at ZMC on April 7, it said.
The government is currently running two RT-PCR machines to increase its testing ration and two more similar machines are arriving very soon, it added.