The Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Monday said it was appalled by the decision of the Nagaland government to deduct a day’s salary of the employees of certain departments, especially the police personnel, towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to combat the coronavirus.
The party in a statement said it is of the strong view that police personnel should come within the parameter of frontline workers who combat the dreaded global pandemic.
Calling the setting up of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund a laudable initiative, the NPF said this will provide an avenue to the people from all walks of life to contribute towards the welfare of the society.
The party, however, said the donations should be voluntary and nobody should be coerced into contributing to the fund, which is tantamount to extortion.
The party fully acknowledged and appreciated the selfless efforts being rendered by the healthcare community and the police personnel towards preventing the outbreak of the disease in the state.
However, it expressed concern over the preparedness of the state government to tackle the virus and questioned the theory of salary deduction from the public servants.
The NPF said even though the entire state is under total lockdown, the assignments and duties of the police personnel have in no way lessened and therefore their welfare has to be taken into consideration.
The party said special incentives to the sanitation workers, doctors and nurses and any other individuals or agencies who are engaged in combating the dreaded pandemic in the state should be given by the government of the day rather than deducting their salaries.
The party also expressed concern over the reported shortage of some essential commodities, including rice, in many districts of the State.
It is in fact disheartening to note that the PDA government is asking the common people to deposit three months’ money in advance to get their share of PDS rice, the NPF said.
“This kind of policy and approach on the part of the PDA government is very shallow and unthinkable,” the party said.
It suggested that the state government use the Rs 17 crore which it had recently withdrawn from the Village Development Board matching grant fund on essential commodities and later on reimburse from the relief funding on Covid-19 from the central government.
The party urged the government to ensure sufficiency of supply of essential commodities to the common people.
It appealed to the government to utilise various government revenues, including revenue from Goods and Services Tax which amounts to crores of rupees, at this critical juncture instead of begging from the poor public and showing helplessness on the pretext of paucity of fund.
The NPF said though the government keeps claiming that the state is fully prepared to tackle Covid-19, the ground reality that everything is in a shamble without the required facilities.
It said the government of the day is expected to be more transparent in tackling Covid-19 as the lives of the citizens of Nagaland cannot be put at risk due to its negligence.
The Dimapur Naga Students Union also questioned as to how could the food and civil supplies department ever think of asking the priority households’ agents to deposit three months’ money in advance at this crucial period of time when the poor people are going through this most challenging hardship.