PULWAMA — In an exclusive interview about various issues concerning the pandemic of COVID-19 in the southern district of Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Baseer-ul-Haq Choudhary said that the administration is ‘on its toes’ to deal with the emerging situation while there is clear improvement in the situation as the surge in cases is witnessing a decline.
The Deputy Commissioner said the prime focus of the administration is to fight the contagious infection but they are also facilitating the movement of people associated with essential services and the ones facing any sort of exigencies.
The DC Pulwama also responded to various complaints of the local population and said that he is available on phone for taking note of the grievances and addressing them.
“People need to bring their issues into my notice and I am here to address them. It is not necessary to visit my office in person. I take hundreds of calls each day and do whatever is there in my capacity,” he added.
To know what else he said in the exclusive interview, read the following excerpts.
Aasif Ganaie: Give us a general overview of the present COVID-19 situation in the district.
DC Pulwama: We have seen an improvement in the overall situation as far as the latest wave of COVID-19 is concerned. Presently, 161 Covid patients are admitted in the district hospital among which about 60 are on high-flow Oxygen. On an average, we have constant number, about 150, new cases per day while recovery rate has improved with 250 to 300 recoveries per day. Test rate has also been enhanced dramatically, almost three times. However, test positivity rate (13% approximately) and fatality rate is concerning, but we are working to witness improvement in these parameters also.
Aasif Ganaie: Fatality rate is comparative high in Pulwama district. What are the possible reasons? Is it due to lack of infrastructure?
DC Pulwama: The main reason is self-medication and the consequent late reporting by the patients infected with the contagious infection. We have enhanced the bed-capacity in the district with 950 new additions as per the directions of Lieutenant Governor and other things like Oxygen are available in sufficient capacity, so there is no chance for lack of infrastructure to be the reason.
Aasif Ganaie: Is there any chance of relaxation in this southern district in the coming days given the fact that lockdown has completed a month?
DC Pulwama: This decision is based on the situation and is reviewed by the honourable LG. However, lockdown shouldn’t be seen as a negative step because we have been able to save lives after the Coronavirus-induced restriction on free movement was imposed.
Aasif Ganaie: In Pulwama, the deadline of 10 days for completion of vaccination for people over 45 years of age has been missed. What are the reasons?
DC Pulwama: We have administered about 1.3 lac doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the district, if both the doses are considered. We have also started mobile vaccination vans for far-flung areas. However, we have people busy here in Horticulture and farming which makes people leave their homes early in the morning. Plus, there have been rumours about the vaccine doing rounds on social media which discourages people to go for vaccination. But we are hopeful to complete the process as soon as possible.
Aasif Ganaie: What about the vaccination process for people below the age group of 45 years? Is there any timeline?
DC Pulwama: We are prioritising the vaccination for people who are more vulnerable. Presently, we are focusing on people like vendors, shopkeepers, wholesale dealers, drivers and other such people. We’ll soon have a data about them and we’ll go ahead with the process.
Aasif Ganaie: There are allegations that the administration is not reaching out to positive patients who are quarantined in their homes. Many of them said that they were not being provided the Covid kits, which the authorities claim are being distributed.
DC Pulwama: The surveillance teams are trying their best to reach out to every patient, but at the end of the day, it should be understood that they are humans too. They might miss few patients but it is equally an achievement if they reach out to 95% of the positive patients.
Aasif Ganaie: There are allegations that district administration is not able to depute Market Checking Squads, given the rising prices of essentials during the lockdown period.
DC Pulwama: We have not received any such complaint during the lockdown period. Even though we won’t deny the complaint altogether but it would be totally unfair to say that the administration is not doing much. In fact, we have taken action against those vendors and shopkeepers who have been involved in the practise from time to time.
Aasif Ganaie: Has the district administration provided any financial assistance to people like construction workers and those involved in MNREGA works during the lockdown period?
DC Pulwama: We have ensured timely disposal of disbursements under all the financial assistance schemes and other social security related schemes. Till date, we disbursed 1.76 Crores to registered labourers through DBT and old age pension up to April 2021. Under MGNREGA, for six lakh man-days of works, about 18 to 20 lakh rupees will be disbursed by the administration under various schemes if the amounts of April and May months are clubbed together.
Aasif Ganaie: There are complaints that no OPD has been kept for the Pulwama town, after district hospital was declared as a COVID-dedicated hospital.
DC Pulwama: People need to understand that extraordinary situations need extraordinary measures. We had a crises situation to deal with due to the second wave of COVID-19 and we had to declare the district hospital as a Covid care hospital. But OPDs have not been closed but shifted to other CHCs and PHCs. Even Mohammadia Nursing Home in Gangoo Pulwama is there to deal with the emergency patients after it was requisitioned by the administration. Having said that, we are looking forward to shift the OPDs back to DH Pulwama within a week’s time.