Arjun Munda.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, May 7 : Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda has asserted that anarchy would have ensued across India had the Centre imposed the nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus scare in March by giving prior notice to the people.

He said that the lockdown has been a success, while rejecting the objections raised by Congress leaders and other opposition leaders over the lockdown imposed after a mere 4-hour notice.

Reacting to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi's charge that the lockdown imposition was disorganised and Rahul Gandhi's contention that lockdown was not a cure for coronavirus, Munda pointed out that countries like the US, the UK, France, Italy and China had the best of healthcare facilities but had still reported lakhs of coronavirus cases and thousands of deaths, but India was placed in a better position.

"Our country is still in a developing stage in these parameters. We have good healthcare sector but we cannot provide treatment to the entire population. So, Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted for the nationwide lockdown to fight coronavirus," said the three-time Chief Minister of Jharkhand and a tribal leader.

"The results of the India's lockdown are before everyone to see. The rate of increase in coronavirus infections in our country is slow. Had prior notice been given, anarchy would have ensured that coronavirus positive patients scattered across the country. The Indian public has fully supported Modiji's action on the lockdown," he added.

He said that he would only appeal to the two Congress leaders to rise above partisan politics since the disease had to be fought unitedly with cooperation of all.

"We need to help the needy. All political parties in India should stand besides the Centre in fighting this pandemic," the Minister remarked.

Asked how much impact the lockdown had had on the ground, Munda said that as per the health experts, the country has been successful in breaking the infection cycle of the coronavirus.

The country at present is at a point where its actions will determine how much we can contain the impact of this coronavirus pandemic, Munda said.

The Minister said that the Modi government had announced relief for different sections of society like farmers, elderly persons etc, apart from industry and entrepreneurs. The Prime Minister was holding regular discussions with the Chief Minister of different states and his ministers to seek their suggestions and views.

Asked how the Tribal Affairs Ministry was helping in the coronavirus battle, Munda said that though tribal areas in India were not hit hard by the coronavirus infections, his Ministry was on the job of ensuring all necessary actions. He said that the Ministry has ensured speedy collection and sale of Minor Forest Produce by the tribals.

Almost all states had started the procurement process for MFPs and 10 states have already begun operations. The minor forest products worth Rs 20.3 crore had been procured so far in fiscal 2020-21.

An online dashboard to keep an eye on MFP procurement in each state had also been set up. Contact through emails and phones with gram panchayats and forest wealth centres has been maintained.

Tribal Affairs Ministry body TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India) will reach out to villages through e-sampark.

Munda said that his ministry would soon distribute 10 lakh soaps, face masks, gloves each and 20,000 PPE kits for COVID-19 tests. ASHA workers have been roped in to visit tribal areas and make people aware of sanitisation and other precautions to be taken against coronavirus.

He pointed out that the Health and Family Welfare Ministry gives around Rs 3,000 crore to different states to provide healthcare to tribals and his Ministry another Rs 500-600 crore for tribal welfare under different programmes.

(Navneet Mishra can be contacted at navneet.m@ians.in)

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