GUWAHATI, May 15 - Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is in favour of withdrawal of the nationwide lockdown post-May 17, except in the �hot spots�. �I am in favour of withdrawing lockdown after completion of the third phase on May 17, except in hot spot areas, in strict compliance with prescribed guidelines. Most of the countries in the world are lifting lockdown,� he said.
He said though a month and a half have passed since the nationwide lockdown was imposed, the number of COVID-19 positive cases and the number of deaths have gone up in the country. Gogoi, however, admitted that the recovery rate of COVID-19 positive cases in India is better as compared to advanced countries and the fatality rate here is also lower.
�At the same time, because of the lockdown millions of people lost their jobs and livelihoods and became poor. It has become extremely difficult for them to meet their need of two square meals a day,� he said. He cited data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) and alleged that 110 million jobs had been lost across the country during the month of April.
�It is really disheartening to see lakhs of migrant labourers from different parts of the country walking hundreds of miles with luggage on their back and head and with children in their arms. A few days back a goods train ran over 17 tired labourers who were sleeping on the railway track at Aurangabad. It is really shameful for the country which is supposed to be one of the economic superpowers as Prime Minister Modi used to say,� Gogoi said.
He accused the Centre of failing to draw a proper roadmap regarding the problems faced by the masses at this time of crisis. �Now questions have been raised as to whether the lockdown is going to do more harm than good. While the Modi government could waive off the loans of defaulters to the tune of Rs 68,000 crore, it cannot spend even Rs 500 for each labourer and cannot provide free train journeys for the needy people to their respective states,� Gogoi rued.
He said that protecting livelihood of people is as important as protecting lives. �We have to live with coronavirus as we have been living with floods, TB and other dangerous diseases. The role of the government has led to economic bankruptcy whereby millions of people are losing jobs and livelihoods,� Gogoi said, adding that daily wage earners, small traders and self-employed people have been among the worst sufferers during the current lockdown.
�The State government is blindly following the directions of the Government of India even though the situation is quite different in Assam. That is why our demand has been that the states should be taken into confidence by Government of India,� Gogoi said, calling for decentralisation of decision making to the grassroots level to tackle COVID-19 and the lockdown�s economic implications.
�The government has not yet started the survey to find out details regarding the losses suffered by each individual or group which is very necessary to provide financial help for survival of those people. Though the government has been engaging in discussions with various groups, we do not know which of the suggestions have been accepted and how those will be implemented. Mere discussion is meaningless if follow-up action is not taken up,� Gogoi said.