INTERVIEW | Other States

I am confident we will win coronavirus battle soon and Indore will set the ideal: Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Shivraj Singh Chouhan.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has had a trial by fire in his current tenure, having been sworn in after much drama and on the eve of the nationwide lockdown that left him without an opportunity to get a large Ministry in place. The situation in the State is also serious with COVID-19 cases soaring.

Indore and Bhopal continue to be huge areas of concern with spiking rates of cases. Why hasn’t the situation been under some sort of control till now? Do you think Madhya Pradesh was fatally late in waking up to the challenge due to its political instability all of March?

No, we cannot say that. One should try to avoid jumping to conclusions without going into the details. Initially, there were fewer cases found in Madhya Pradesh, primarily in Jabalpur, and after that, a rapid increase in the number of cases around major cities like Indore and Bhopal raised the index. Tablighi Jamaat members of Madhya Pradesh, who attended this event in Delhi, came back and scattered into many core and prime areas of the State. They are also the reason for this sudden rise as they responded reluctantly and did not come forward willingly and thus indirectly spread it among others.


Indore is the prime commercial centre and densely populated city. It is a place where a big number of people travel abroad for business and commerce. Initially, such people hid their travel histories and somehow came into contact with others and as a result, this infection spread from one to another. For now, we are taking a special care in this regard, special attention is being paid to cases found here.


In Indore, the entire staff, including the police and the administration, with the cooperation of public representatives, social workers, organisations, the media and the public, have been fighting wholeheartedly in this fight against the novel coronavirus. I am confident that we will win this battle soon and Indore will set the ideal for this. I have also ordered effective implementation of the strategy to identify, isolate, test and treat (IITT) in all districts, including Indore. With this strategy, we will conquer the coronavirus soon.

The testing rate in Indore is much higher than the rest of the State. 5,120 samples have been taken in Indore, out of which 1,000 have been sent to Delhi for testing. 489 teams are engaged in this work. So far, 3.9 lakh persons have been surveyed in the infected areas. A total of 12-13 lakh persons have been surveyed in the entire city. In the next 7 days, 20-21 lakh persons will be surveyed. I have also given a clear instruction that the fair price ration be sent to all the districts in sufficient quantity and there should be no delay in distribution.


If there is no situation of opening a shop, then the ration can be distributed from house to house. In order to ensure that the vegetables and fruits of farmers are not spoiled, decentralised purchase of their fruits and vegetables can be arranged outside the city in a protective manner. As per the instructions of the Central government, a containment plan is ready, and it is being implemented.

A large number of infected patients are recovering. Till yesterday [Tuesday], 31 infected patients in Bhopal and 71 infected patients in Indore recovered and went home. Similarly, there is not a single local COVID-19-positive patient in Gwalior and Shivpuri. Reports of 193 samples from Bhopal came negative yesterday. More than 50% of the districts are completely free from the virus. Right from the moment I was sworn in as the Chief Minister, I started monitoring and doing work for preventing the spread of the virus, along with the Health Department and administrative bodies.

What is your plan for ramping up health infrastructure and testing facilities and how soon do you think there will be an exit from the lockdown?

Well, our medical system and infrastructure is ready. We are well prepared and in a better condition than a month and a half before. Tests are being conducted in 10 laboratories in the State. There has been an increase in daily checks, now we are doing around 1,800 tests daily. The process to start a few other laboratories is under way. Testing kits are available and are being supplied continuously to all the districts. Talking about testing equipment, we have 22,520 RTPCR, 14,200 manual RNA. PPE kits are around 1 lakh, with kits distributed daily to different districts. The availability of N95 masks is around 1.77 lakh, of which more than 1,60,000 have been distributed so far. The availability of hydroxychloroquine tablets is more than 3.3 million. There are 2,776 oxygen cylinders. Over 20,243 isolation beds are available. There are about 783 ICU beds available, with 690 ventilators. We are continuously increasing the facilities.

What is your exit plan. It may seem premature to ask with rate of infection being the way it is, but still?

As far as the exit plan is concerned, it is a simple plan — to follow the guidelines of the lockdown and cooperate with each other. Do not leave your houses. I appeal to everyone to follow the lockdown sincerely; it is for your safety. Keep maintaining the rule of social distancing. Stay at home, stay safe. No entry, no exit in the containment zones. Continuous, State-wise surveys are being conducted. It is a question of life and death. Safety and security of the common man is our top priority. As soon as the situation comes under control, the lockdown will be lifted; things will be back on track soon. We are consistently trying to overcome the hazard and trying to stabilise the situation. I request everyone to have patience; we will soon overcome this pandemic.

With new Ministers, what will be the status of the committee appointed under V.D. Sharma for the management of the crisis?

The task force or the committee appointed under V.D. Sharma includes senior and experienced leaders of the State who are very well known to the State and who are eligible to manage the challenges coming out of the situation. They are also here for additional help and suggestions to control the situation at different levels and places and they will be surely supporting the new Ministers and the government with their experience. Many of them are in touch with many social organisations and self-help groups across the State, they are in consistent touch with the government and will be helping us till this fight is over.

You have five Ministers now and you have also notified their portfolios. Are you anticipating any restiveness and resentment among those not accommodated?

As you know, the day after I was sworn in as CM, we had the lockdown, and so, in order to manage the situation I have done this small expansion of my Council of Ministers. I will go in for a bigger exercise once the lockdown is eased, and I don’t think that this is the time when people will think in this manner. Everyone in the Ministry is a senior member and well experienced to deal with the situation. Portfolio allocation has been done after due consultation. Our prime focus right now is to safeguard the State and get control over the pandemic.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 1:18:44 PM |

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