May 16, 2021

The contrasting sides of ‘New India’

By Shakir Alam Mazumder,

After the rapid surge in covid-19 infection and death, dozen of dead bodies which were in various stages of decay were spotted in the Ganga at the Chausa block of Bihar’s Buxar district.

Though it is being suspected that the dead bodies are covid victims but the concerned authorities are yet to determine the cause of the death.

Images of the dead bodies surfaced on social media prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities after performing post mortems on Tuesday said that they could not confirm the cause of the death due to the decomposition of the bodies.

Similarly, more corpses were found in floating in the river on Tuesday in Ghazipur district in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state. A local resident said that due to shortage of wood and cost of cremation they are forced to jettison bodies in the river.

The picture of India’s crumbling healthcare system can be seen in capital state Delhi which is believed to have one of the best medical facilities. The situation is far worse in the remote areas where there is no credible reporting mechanism of Covid-19.

The dumping of the dead bodies signal that people are running out of resources and money to do cremations and are in need of financial assistance. The basic requirements of Covid illness like medical oxygen and essential drugs are out of reach for many people and many cannot afford it. The covid-19 has made life difficult for India’s poorest population. Even the families where no one is infected with Covid-19 are also facing tough time to meet their essential needs as the lockdown placed them out of their casual jobs. But there is hardly any initiative from government to help them.

On the other hand, Centre led by Bharatiya Janata Party began construction of a new residence for the PM, new Parliament House and a Central Secretariat housing all ministries under Central Vista Project costing around Rs 20000 crores. In fact, when Delhi is under complete lockdown, the Central Vista Project is declared as an essential service allowing free movement and construction in the areas. Amid the surge of Covid-19 cases in Delhi, the national capital faces another worrying situation as air pollution level have also been on the rise. According to one report, around 400 trees have to be cut to make space for this lavish project. The government is facing huge criticism even from global media but nothing can move its egotistic decision.

The Hindutva government which garnered votes by promising citizenship to the persecuted minorities of neighboring countries is failing to even take care of its own citizens. Crematoriums in Delhi are overburdened with dead bodies that they are forced to build makeshift funeral pyres on spare patches of land. Even the parking lots and parks are being used to cremate dead bodies.

The existing migrants staying in temporary shelters are starving without food and proper sanitisation. The areas they live in are experiencing more severe crisis due to absence of healthcare system. Deaths in such areas do not get counted in Covid-19 statistics as often they are unreported and sometimes intentionally.

The construction of new PM residence can wait but the lives that we lost and will lose due to shortage of medical oxygen cannot be brought back. It is high time; Govt. should value the human lives than its ego.

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