At the helm of India’s most populous State, Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath details his government’s strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the revival of the economy post the lockdown in an email interview.
UP is one of the most populous states in India, what has been your strategy in combating the challenge of COVID19, so far?
There is no doubt that Uttar Pradesh is the largest state in the country in terms of population and in such a situation the battle with COVID-19 becomes even more challenging. We worked hard to turn every challenge into an opportunity. As soon as alarm about the coronavirus was sounded, our government started taking some rapid measures.
In the first week of March, on the call of Hon'ble Prime Minister, we started the proceedings for prevention of corona. Special programmes for training of physicians, paramedical and nursing staff etc. were ensured. The Panchayati Raj, Rural Development and Urban Development Departments were directed to conduct comprehensive awareness programmes. We formed 11 committees. For the citizens of Uttar Pradesh residing in other States, 32 nodal officers were deployed (16 IAS, 16 IPS). Through the CM Helpline 1076, we asked the village heads to communicate and make people aware of the virus in the villages.
COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India
On March 24 itself, we took action to send an amount of ₹1000 through RTGS to the accounts of more than 21 lakh construction workers under the Workers' Maintenance Scheme. Thus, we were the first to provide relief to the people who depend on their daily wages. Secondly, starting from a single testing lab, today there are 14, and we are doing 2,500 tests daily. With this, Uttar Pradesh is the first State to do pool testing.
We are manufacturing PPE kits, masks, and sanitizers in Uttar Pradesh. This is the reason that the situation in Uttar Pradesh is very much under control today. Our 27 districts are already corona free, including Pilibhit which is now free from corona. Two cases were found there but today there is not a single case of corona there. This would not have been possible without the support of corona warriors and the public.
Can you explain the Agra Model in detail and how it was designed?
The first cluster of coronavirus in Uttar Pradesh was reported in Agra after which the State government took full caution and started working with better strategy. We identified all the hotspots in the district, and deployed rapid response team, started sampling in bulk, installed call centre, ensured doorstep delivery and all the houses were sanitised.
Also read: Coronavirus | Agra registers first death, taking tally to 4 in Uttar Pradesh
We made necessary arrangements here and prevented the corona from spreading by creating a containment zone. Contact tracing of infected persons was done through Rapid Response Team (RRP). Information was gathered about their visits and who did they came in contact with. The hotspots and 38 epicentres were then identified, and shown on the map out of which 10 epicentres have been completely closed now.
Along with this, a 3-km containment zone and 5-km buffer zone were made. A micro plan was created for each area to reduce the outbreak of corona. 1248 special teams were formed which included the people of Municipal Corporation and Health Department. These teams surveyed about 9.3 lakh people from house-to-house and screened 1.65 lakh homes. Of these, 25 hundred people were identified with symptoms like cough, cold, fever and 36 people had a travel history. Everyone was investigated. This brought the situation under control.
Also read: Coronavirus | Uttar Pradesh to move asymptomatic patients to hotels, lodges
Migrants from UP made their way back home from various parts of the country. How do you see its impact, both in terms of disease surveillance and the economy?
See, the whole country is fighting to save humanity right now. In such a situation, the Government of Uttar Pradesh also stands firm with every citizen irrespective of which section of the society they belong to. The State government is providing all possible help to those citizens who are returning. They all are being monitored by the medical team and administration. The government is arranging for their food. About four lakh people are in the shelter homes or quarantine centres, they are being transported home with food grains after completing the period.
We are taking care that nobody in the State goes hungry. Secondly, for those who have come to Uttar Pradesh from other places, the government will make the same arrangements for them, too.
Also read: Coronavirus | Majority of positive cases in U.P. in 21-40 age-group
Naturally, the world’s economy is falling apart due to lockdown. In such a situation, this time is very challenging for Uttar Pradesh too. But it is equally important for the State government to take care of the 23 crore people as much as the State's economy. This is why Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has also spoken about ‘ Jaan bhi, Jahaan bhi’ .
During this lockdown, the government has directly and indirectly connected about one and a half lakh people in the State with jobs. After the lockdown is over, Uttar Pradesh’s economy will grow faster. I can say this with certainty. If people from outside do not want to return, they can work in their respective districts under the One District One Product (ODOP) programme or they can be absorbed in the industries coming in to Uttar Pradesh.
You have talked of imposing the National Security Act (NSA) on people violating terms of lockdown. Some people consider that harsh. Can you explain the logic behind it?
See, I have repeatedly said that in Uttar Pradesh, we will not let anyone break the law. Secondly, we are taking the harshest action against those who are trying to convert this infection into a community infection during lockdown. If someone assaults our health workers, police personnel, then action against them is necessary. The attack on the medical team in Moradabad is an unforgivable crime and we are strictly dealing with this situation. The message to all these people is that they should behave according to the needs of the country and society, otherwise be prepared for strict action. The government will do whatever is appropriate, including NSA, to discipline the miscreants.
Also read: Coronavirus | Over 400 quarantined at Muzaffarnagar village after woman tests positive for COVID-19
The COVID19 pandemic will hit the economy quite badly. How do you aim to address that issue going ahead?
Our government has drawn policies and plans to revive the economy, and is working on war footing to boost it. We have constituted 11 committees under the chairmanship of the ministers, whose task is to formulate policy towards strengthening the State's economy and furthering employment activities during and after lockdown. The State government is working on a long-term strategy to give momentum to the economy.
Regarding this, our government has taken many important decisions in the Cabinet meeting. The State government is fixing its policies on the lines of 'Jaan Bhi-Jahaan Bhi' call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Apart from this, we have started work to ensure that farmers of the State do not face any problem in harvesting, availability of seeds and purchase of their crops. Also, we are going to approve big construction works on certain conditions. This will provide relief to the workers and working class of the state. We are confident that soon the state will be corona free and the economy will be back on track at its own pace.