Health facilities severely lacking in J'khand: Arjun Munda

New Delhi (IANS) Central Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda has advised the Hemant Soren government in Jharkhand to focus on health facilities in the state, saying though the Centre stands by the state, it needs to remove "several deficiencies" in various services. Munda said the state government should, in consultation with the Centre, devise a strategy to protect people from coronavirus pandemic.

Politics should not be allowed to come in the way of resolving problems involving the spread of Covid-19, he said.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Munda said as a Central minister, he is ready to extend all possible help to the state government. Having been Chief Minister of the state thrice, Munda said the state lacks in healthcare facilities - neither there are adequate quarantine centres in the state nor have the poor been supplied with ration in a coordinated manner.

Chief minister Hemant Soren has maintained that Jharkhand depends as much as 90 per cent on Central assistance. On this, Munda said the Centre is fully helping the state; MGNREGA workers' wages and working hours have been raised. A special train has been arranged to ferry migrants from the state. If required, all MPs from the state would meet the Home Minister.

"I urge the Soren government that in this crisis situation, we should stay away from politics and cooperate in protecting Jharkhand's interests. The state government should upgrade its administrative machinery and make efforts to increase the work efficiency. We should strengthen and further improve disaster management along with health infrastructure," said Munda.

How far has the Soren government been successful in meeting the corona challenge? Munda responded by saying that so far three persons have died of Covid-19 in the state even as the Centre is trying to assist the state government in removing various bottlenecks in making available food and medicines to the people.

"But the state government alone will have to step in to remove some problems such as closure of OPDs in hospitals, inadequate testing kits and the severe shortage of medical facilities in hospitals. Quarantine centers built or arranged are not adequate in the state. The state government must strengthen arrangements for the migrants returning to the state. The government should also seriously look at how to fix mismanagement at various levels. The Chief Minister should himself monitor such steps," said Munda.

The Central Minister also listed various efforts that he has made to combat coronavirus. "During lockdown, I met representatives of various sections of people, social workers and entrepreneurs in order to understand their problems. I have been able to help around 5,000 needy people from outside Jharkhand".

Munda said entrepreneurs are facing a crisis following closure of factories. "Despite this the state government is charging them for electricity. There has been a positive response from the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary. I have taken up with the Centre the need to increase testing for Covid-19 in the state. I have spoken to the Chief Minister about closure of OPDs in some government hospitals as well as problems involving food grain availability," Munda said.

"I appeal to the state government to take logical steps towards resolving these problems. As a Central Minister, I am always ready to extend prompt help to the people of Jharkhand," Munda said.

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