(Bikram Singh Majithia says Health minister responsible for mismanagement in handling of Sri Hazur Sahib pilgrims)
(Says COVID funds sent by the centre not utilised)
(Says economic package need of the hour)
Amritsar, April 29 – The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today urged chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to ask Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu to tender his resignation following his complete failure to tackle COVID -19 besides taking immediate steps to reduce Caronavirus mortality rates in Punjab.
Addressing the media here, former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said Health minister Balbir Sidhu, who had put a taint on the department earlier also when crores of buprenorphine tablets had gone missing, had failed miserably in handing the COVID crisis. “He should resign since he has already put a signboard outside his residence that he is not available to the people and has refused to go to field hospitals like his counterparts in Kerala and Haryana who have successfully brought down COVID mortality rates in their States to one per cent against 6 per cent mortality rate of Punjab”.
Stating that the irresponsible attitude of Mr Balbir Sidhu was directly responsible for the increase in COVID cases as well as mortality rates in the State, the Akali leader said the Health minister was solely responsible for the mismanagement in handling of pilgrims who had been repatriated from Sri Hazur Sahib. He said it had now come to light that the pilgrims were not quarantined nor tested properly. He said even directions for quarantine of pilgrims had been received at district headquarters on April 27 even though they had started coming in on April 24 and 25. “It is unfortunate that the Health department did not follow ICMR guidelines”. Mr Majithia also pointed out other recent cases of unhygienic conditions in Ambulances and hospitals and said all this was happening because the Health minister was not monitoring the situation.
The SAD leader said the Health ministry had also not expended the funds it had received from the centre. He said even though the centre had given the State Rs 112 crore under NRHM the same had not been utilised properly. He said similarly out of the Rs 247 crore received under the Disaster Management Fund only 16 cent that is Rs 40 crore had been despatched to the field and out of that only 34 per cent had been actually spent.
Mr Majithia when asked about extension of the lockdown and limited opening, said people would only be able to buy essential commodities during this period. He said due precautions should be followed while giving relaxation. He also called for announcement of an economic package, saying relief of Rs 6,000 should be given to Khet Mazdoor and daily wagers and domestic electricity and water bills should be halved. He said sincere efforts should also be made to restart industry as earlier announcements had remained on paper only even as he called for halving power bills for industrial sector and removing fixed charges.