While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world alike, its impact on people from disparate socio-economic standings has been unequal. Facilities such as hospital beds, oxygen, medicines, etc have been scarce during the second wave. Keeping in line with this and in continuation of the rural realities webinar series, the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on “Rural Realities Practitioners’ Experience in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on June 1st, 2021.
Mr. Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI laid the groundwork for the session by discussing the public health challenges and role of the government in India, and policy actions in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The IMPRI team gave a brief presentation in order to provide an overview of the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. They informed the participants about the state’s geographical and socio-economic status and gave insight into the situation of COVID-19 in India and the union territories, highlighting pertinent emerging issues.
Kargil is relatively cut-off from the rest of the country, considering road and air connectivity. Mr Sajjad Kargili, Activist and Political Analyst, Ladakh therefore, believes that it is relatively easier to manage the entry of people from outside and a lockdown is not needed.
The season imposes a natural lockdown of 6 months. The supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, and education get disrupted.
Agreeing with Mr Nurbu, he said that the health and education infrastructure is weak. There is no super-speciality hospital in the towns of Kargil and Leh and people have to depend on cities like Srinagar and Delhi. This is not practical in the pandemic.
An important suggestion of providing relief packages was made. Free vaccination drive for all Ladakhi residents and people’s cooperation with the administration have been major positives. Furthermore, religious organizations and committees have worked towards mitigating the impact of COVID-19.
- The government policy action has to be consistent with development of health and economic sectors.
- Investment in public health infrastructure is a major aspect in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Delayed testing has to be avoided by creating awareness and cooperation among residents.
- Relief packages for Below Poverty Line people will support the people.
- By monitoring entry points into the union territories, the number of new cases can be controlled.
- Telecommunication facilities have to be set up in rural areas to support online education.