Like any other part of the country, Jammu and Kashmir is also facing a difficult time due to COVID-19. But the administration is not only providing treatment facilities to its people, but also necessary help. The unemployed are being given due preference as well as kids and elderly who have lost the earning members of their family to the pandemic.
Lt Governor of Jammu & Kashmir Manoj Sinha is a seasoned politician and a technocrat. This precisely is the reason that when other states had let their guards down after the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Sinha was working actively on a plan to prepare for the next wave. Sinha, an M. Tech in civil engineering from BHU, knew that if COVID-19 knocks on the UT’s door during the second wave, the situation may slip out of hand. Jammu & Kashmir has a tough terrain and the weather is also hostile.
Under Sinha, the administration started setting up oxygen-generating plants in all districts. Within six months, the Union Territory had 27 new oxygen generation plants. With this, J&K now has a total of 44 oxygen generation plants for 20 districts—it had 17 plants earlier. All these plants have been established near the district health centres so that there is no problem in supplying oxygen to the hospitals. One can’t imagine what would have happened had these oxygen plants not been set up in J&K. States like Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan are suffering due to acute shortage of oxygen and in this situation, it would have been difficult for Srinagar to get oxygen from other states. But the farsightedness of Lt Governor Sinha ensured there was no dearth of oxygen in Jammu and Kashmir.
In Jammu and Kashmir, 2,782 people lost their lives since last year when the coronavirus pandemic struck the UT. Of this, 1,572 people died in Kashmir division while 1,210 lost their lives in Jammu division. Majority among them were the sole earning members of their family, leaving behind dependent children.
Their hardship was exacerbated by the dearth of tourists in Jammu and Kashmir. The Union Territory earns most of its revenue from tourism and the pandemic has severely affected the industry and, in turn, the UT’s economy. People are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Considering these factors, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has taken some decisions, which can set an example for others in the country. Senior citizens who have lost their only earning member to COVID-19 will get pension for the rest of their lives. Similarly, children who have been orphaned by COVID, losing their parents to the pandemic, will be provided a special scholarship. Not only this, families who have lost their earning member to COVID will be provided financial assistance to start their own business.
Special provisions have been made for daily-wage earners too. Those who earned their livelihood by carrying palanquins, mules or horses, or were carrying people on their back will now get Rs 1,000 per month for the next two months. They will also get ration and aid through welfare schemes and the MGNREGS and the administration will ensure this help reaches them.
During a pandemic, it is important to take care of people’s health, but at the same time it is also important to provide them with assistance so that the affected families don’t suffer anymore. The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s economic package will provide relief to a great extent to the people of the UT, which has been ravaged by terrorism.
Those who misled J&K’s people by opposing the abrogation of Article 370 and did nothing to help them during the pandemic have been exposed. In this situation, it is necessary that along with providing relief, the administration also initiates a social outreach programme. As a seasoned politician, Lt Governor Sinha knows this well, and has taken the crucial step to provide relief to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their hour of need.