In face of the COVID-19 outbreak in India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation, tge Revolutionary Socialist Party and the All India Forward Bloc have issued the following statement:
Attend to People’s Concerns on a War-Footing
The country has entered the second week of the 21-day lockdown to contain the community spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Many problems have surfaced in a sharp manner which need to be resolved urgently. Many of these were anticipated but unfortunately no remedial action was taken before the announcement of the lockdown.
Crores of people have lost their sources of livelihood. The exodus of migrant workers from urban centres has shown the degree of unsettling of people’s livelihood that this sudden lockdown announcement caused. There is an urgent need to stop the growth of widespread hunger and malnutrition.
The COVID-19 pandemic feeds on such conditions of the people. The promised Rs. 5000 to all Jandhan, BPL and unorganized workers must be transferred immediately. The central government must provide 35kgs per family to all migrant workers and poor, with or without ration cards, from the 7.5 crore of stock of food-grains, all across the country.
Proper health care facilities for the migrant workers and others who have travelled from various parts must be put in place. Effective and hygienic quarantine facilities must be established in all parts of the country. Police brutalities on migrant workers must be put an end to and strict action must be taken against those who gave such orders.
In all urban centres, particularly in the large conglomeration of urban slums, provision of food grains and essentials to the needy is urgently needed to prevent hunger, starvation and the community spread of COVID-19.
This is the harvest season. The farmers need to be supported to ensure that the food crop is not wasted which is essential for our food security. Food Corporation of India must be directed to procure at MSP to prevent distress selling.
Much of this work will have to be undertaken in the states. The state governments are already facing severe financial crunch and would not be in a position to undertake these tasks. They must be liberally assisted financially by the Centre. Limit on States’ borrowing must be increased. On this depends the life and livelihood of crores of Indian people.
During the lockdown increasing reports are now appearing of growing shortages of essential commodities and medicines. There is no clarity on the movement of trucks carrying essential goods across the states.
This must be set right immediately and all essential requirements of the people must be met.
There is a growing genuine complaint from the health workers who are courageously discharging their duties, of the lack of personal protective equipment and medicines. They must be provided immediately.
Equipments like Ventilators must be acquired urgently on priority.
These must be augmented by the central government urgently.
People suffering from other life-threatening conditions cannot be neglected for treatment by the health facilities. Some reports have estimated that at least 43 such patients have died so far.
Large scale testing for COVID-19 should be undertaken during this period of lockdown to identify clusters where this pandemic is spreading, isolate those areas and treat the people properly. The ICMR has now approved a rapid testing kit. This must be deployed on a large scale across the country. Currently, India’s testing rate is one of the lowest in the world. It is 241 times lower than South Korea.
There is growing concern over the rabid communal campaigns being conducted after the Tablighi Jamaat congregation which was an act of gross irresponsibility by the organisers. But to convert that into a campaign for communal polarisation only divides the united effort required by all Indians to battle this pandemic and defeat it.
Effective steps must be taken to dispel stigma, generating empathy not criminalizing patients. Curb fake news and communicate scientific facts about the pandemic. The central government should urgently intervene to ensure that this fight against COVID-19 is a fight in which all of us are united and determined to defeat it.
Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist).
D Raja, General Secretary, Communist Party of India.
Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)- Liberation.
Debabrata Biswas, General Secretary, All India Forward Bloc.
Manoj Bhattarcharya, Revolutionary Socialist Party.