BHOPAL: Under fire for not having a full-time health minister amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has constituted an advisory committee, comprising Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and 12 others, to deal with the crisis.
The state does not have a council of ministers ever since senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan took over the chief minister on March 23.
The coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown have delayed the cabinet formation and the BJP-led government is drawing flak from the opposition Congress for not having a dedicated health minister at this critical juncture.
"Considering the rise in COVID-19 cases, the government set up an advisory committee, comprising eight doctors, a retired IAS and a retired IPS officer, apart from Satyarthi," an official from the general administration department said on Saturday.
Former chief secretary Nirmala Buch, retired IPS officer Sarabjeet Singh, president of MP Nursing Home Association Dr Jitendra Jamdar and state president of the Indian Medical Association Dr Mukul Tiwari are also part of the panel.
Apart from the present health crisis, the committee will also advise the government on people welfare and policy matters from time to time, he said.
The additional chief secretary of public health and family welfare will be the coordinator of this committee, the official said.
As on Saturday, the count of coronavirus cases in Madhya Pradesh is 1,360 with 69 deaths.
Of the total number of COVID-19 cases, 892 persons have tested in Indore alone, while the tally in Bhopal is 197.
According to reports, the virus has expanded its footprint to 25 out of 52 districts of the state.
At least 68 patients have recovered from the infection, a health official said, adding that 408 containment areas have been declared across the affected cities.