Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is confident of providing employment to 15 lakh migrant workers returning to Uttar Pradesh and tells Namita Bajpai that his government’s policies will encourage these labourers to now work in the state and contribute to its economy
Q. After more than a month of lockdown, where do you see UP? How much has the state been able to contain the Covid-19 spread?
Uttar Pradesh is giving a tough fight to the pandemic. Despite being the largest state in the county in terms of population, the situation in UP is very much under control because of the decisive and tough measures taken by the state government in past one month. I thank PM Narendra Modi who took timely steps for the well-being of 135 crore people of India and sounded alert in the first week of March.
On getting instructions from Modiji, I prepared a concrete action plan in UP along with my ministers. We set up 11 different teams to fight the battle on every front. I personally interact with these 11 teams comprising senior officials on a daily basis to ensure strict implementation of the action plan. Health services have been given a boost in the last one month. Lockdown and social distancing were enforced strictly. Hotspots were identified and sealed completely. The borders were also sealed. As a result, we have been able to keep the situation under control to a large extent. We also want the cooperation of all of you.
Q. You are bringing back about 5-10 lakh migrant workers of UP stranded in other parts of the country and almost as much had already arrived at the start of lockdown. What about their livelihood?
We have created new employment opportunities after forming the government in 2017. Today, we are in a position to provide immediate employment to 15 lakh people in the state and it is the responsibility of my government to provide them jobs.
We do have a challenge in hand but there are options galore. At present, we have made doorstep delivery arrangements all over the state during lockdown. Through this, we have provided direct and indirect employment to more than 1.5 lakh people. MNREGA, MSME, ODOP (one district one product) and voluntary organizations are options through which we will give employment to them. An action plan is being made to tackle this situation by a team led by Agriculture Production Commissioner.
Q. Your decision first to bring students from Kota and then migrant workers from other states drew criticism from some leaders. What do you have to say to them?
We did not take any new steps without a concrete action plan. Whether it was to bring children from Kota or migrant labourers from other states, we planned their evacuation in collaboration with the chief ministers of all the states. The labourers being brought from different states have got certificates by respective state governments. Moreover, they are being quarantined in their native districts after coming back to UP. After completing 2-week quarantine period, they would be sent home with the ration and relief amount of `1,000 in cash.
Q. The Agra model was much talked about and even the Centre appreciated it, but what is the reason for the rising tally of Agra?
The Agra model did not have any shortcoming and things were under control and moving in the right direction when a few private hospitals played the spoilsport by hiding information about Covid-19 patients from administration. They did not even quarantine the staff and doctors and it led to a spike in cases. Moreover, Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts also contributed to the rising number of cases in the district, but efforts are being made to bring the situation under control.
Q. What will be the impact of this prolonged lockdown and the financial drain on your big-ticket projects?
There is no problem of any kind in Uttar Pradesh. Construction work on Purvanchal, Bundelkhand and Gorakhpur link expressways is going on in full swing. Complying with social distancing norms, 129 sugar mills are also running and 80 of them have completed crushing season. There is no problem anywhere. Yes, the damage caused by the lockdown is quite natural. Because this lockdown is across the country, huge projects were stopped everywhere. We have started some of our big projects only after receiving the guidelines from the Government of India. Our priority is both ‘Jaan’ and ‘Jahaan’, as Modiji outlined.
Q. It was the peak Rabi harvesting time when the lockdown started. How did you manage it on the agri front?
Our government is fully sensitive towards the farmers. We are committed to not let the farmers face any problem. Even during lockdown, I have exempted equipment used in harvesting Rabi crops, including the Combine Harvester. Fertilizers, seeds and agro defence chemicals sales centres are open and their production and supply is on. We have also given relaxation in lockdown to the labourers who operate seed plantation equipment. The state government is depositing `2,000 in the accounts of all the 2.34 crore farmers every month for the next three months. I assure my farmer brothers that they will have no problem of any kind.
Q. Some BJP MLAs have been giving controversial statements. Do you think they are making things difficult for you?
We are a democracy wherein people are free to put forth their thoughts. However, this right should be used judiciously. During the current trying times, we should not say anything which could create an unnecessary controversy. We should be responsible in what we say. However, the party leadership has also taken cognizance of those who had made certain irresponsible statements and has issued notice to them.
Q. Your father recently passed away and you couldn’t attend his last rites. When do you plan to visit your family?
Currently, there is a global war on against the pandemic. I am working as the head of the country’s largest state, besides fulfilling my responsibilities of a monk. My family comprises 23 crore people of the state. At such a time, I have to discharge my responsibility of protecting them. It will only be possible to go anywhere after the lockdown is lifted.
Q. How satisfied are you with the medical infrastructure to handle pandemic in UP?
Initially, we had a lab in which 50 tests were conducted daily. During the last one month, we have established 17 testing labs and 5,000 samples are being tested daily. There are 17,194 isolation beds and 21,569 quarantine beds across the state. We have 948 ventilator beds. We are in the process of arranging 52,000 new beds across L1, L2 and L3 level hospitals. These beds will be equipped with oxygen and ventilators facility. We are ensuring availability of N95 masks and PPE kits in all Covid-19 hospitals. I am confident that there will be no dearth of medical facilities. We are determined to beat this crisis with our conviction and action on ground.
Q. UP has been witnessing incidents of attack on health workers and cops. What steps have you taken to protect them?
We are taking action against all those who attack our doctors, nurses, health and sanitation workers and police personnel fighting the war against the coronavirus. Besides invoking provisions of National Security Act against them, we are prepared to bring an ordinance, Uttar Pradesh Epidemic DiseaseCovid-19 Regulations, 2020, to make the punishment more stringent for attacks on corona warriors including doctors, nurses, medical staff, sanitation workers and police personnel. After receiving complaints of stone pelting at some places, we decided that when the health department team will go for sample testing or screening in the hotspot areas, the police will accompany them.