No complaints like Province 2 that the federal government did not help in epidemic: Baijnath Chaudhary

Minister for Physical Infrastructure Development, Province 5

Interview

Province 5 is also at high risk of corona infection, the number of infected people is increasing and daily deaths are also taking place. What is the state government doing for prevention and control?

The government of Province 5 has been aware of the increased risk of coronavirus (Covid-19) in Nepal. Initially, we built four corona hospitals in the state. As most of the districts have borders, we have built four Corona Hospitals under the leadership of four ministers from five states. Then we went to increase the ICU, ventilator, staff. This is the work done for the treatment of those who have been infected. We have been treating Corona patients from the beginning. Recently, when the number of infected people started increasing, then those who came with positive corona but did not show any symptoms were also kept in isolation hospital under the supervision of health workers in each district. · We are doing the work of quarantining those who come from outside, then letting them go to their village. We are also cooperating with the local level in corona prevention and control. We have also relaxed the economic activities to some extent after the long period of stagnation or ban has started to create various problems.

Can’t Corona be stopped just by a prohibitory order?

It is not so good to just prohibitory order, not to let anyone out of the house, to make the economy very effective. We are also looking at other countries. Other countries have adopted policies aimed at using masks and sanitizers to keep the economy afloat. We should adopt the same policy. Have we hung boards here and there or lost your mask? We are also spreading public awareness on why you are not wearing a mask. We are also enforcing the rule that people without masks should not be allowed to walk on the road, anyone should wear a mask and walk at a distance of two meters. Therefore, we are moving forward in the sense that the economy should be moving. The strategy of living with Corona and making people’s lives easier is the right one for now.

There are more deaths from other diseases than corona infections. Patients with other diseases are not admitted to the hospital, do they ask for Corona’s report?

For this, we have said that no patient can be sent back to the hospital. If someone has symptoms of corona, they should be treated in the same way. But under the pretext of Corona, we are saying that no hospital should do the work of returning other patients from the hospital and not treating them. That is something that must be strictly enforced.

However, some of them have lost their lives due to lack of treatment while visiting the hospital?

There have been some such incidents. However, there are not many complaints in our Province 5 government hospitals. Private hospitals may have done so. We have strictly instructed every hospital to do the same.

After the death of a Corona infected person, his body is managed by the Nepal Army. But, there are also complaints that the family of the deceased should be allowed to perform the funeral according to their tradition?

For that, we have decided from the Council of Ministers that the corpse management will be done by the army, but according to their religion and rituals, the concerned family can participate but keeping a distance. The army is not allowed to manage corpses by force or in its own way. We have not received such complaints.

But, has Sahasram Yadav, an MP from Province 5, made such a complaint?

Health standards say that it should not be burnt, it should be dug and buried. However, the families concerned are able to participate in the funeral rites. If this has happened sporadically, we have not received any such complaint so far. If so, we control it. We have clearly instructed the Nepal Army that no one’s rites can be measured.

What is the cooperation between the federal government and the state government? 

We do not have the same complaint as in Province 2 that the federal government did not help in this corona epidemic. Some health products we don’t even buy. The only thing that is not available in the market is the fact that the center has to manage a sufficient amount. The center is sending us when we demand that there should be adequate facilities including ventilator, ICU, oxygen. We have already cooperated with the Center. We have not received such non-cooperation.

Since your party has a government at the center, are you getting more support than Province 2 government?

Because of the party, we don’t need more support and less support for Province 2. The government is not just for any party, it is for everyone. There is no need to look at the government of any party in a special way. But, it has its limitations. Naturally, the amount of medicine, PPE, VTM and other health items provided by the center may sometimes be insufficient as required. But now there are not many complaints in the situation.

The federal government has not yet transferred some of the constitutional rights of the states. Why other states besides Province 2 could not make such complaints?

We also complain that the Union has not been able to transfer the constitutional rights of the states. When it comes to the implementation of federalism, naturally, some things that should come to the state automatically, have not come yet. We don’t even have the staff we need. As the Center has not drafted the Employees Act in time, we are facing difficulties in staff supply. The Police Act has not been drafted yet, the security forces should have come under the purview of the state. On the issue of education, the center is still keeping the programs of CTEVT. As far as the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development is concerned, the work to be done by the state government is being done by the central government through the department. There are such complaints. All the states have the same issues. It is a common demand of all of us that the Center should make laws as soon as possible on the implementation of federalism and transfer power. 

Doesn’t it seem that voices are coming from other states openly asking the Union to transfer the rights of the state government?

We see that Province 2 has raised the political issue a little more. Since there is a government of another party at the center, it is a different matter for them to do more political stunts. We have to go real. In fact, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. Because of that, it is not true that we did not raise our voice, did not talk and only State 2 spoke. In the Inter-Province Coordinating Council, chaired by the Prime Minister and consisting of Chief Ministers, we have repeatedly called for the transfer of the rights mentioned in the implementation of federalism. We have already raised the shortcomings of the federal government through our Chief Minister.

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