Post second wave of pandemic, Home panel grills ministries on socioeconomic impact

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on June 29, 2021

Anand Sharma, Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha   -  The Hindu

‘Explain preparations for possible third wave’

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, will invite finance, industries, commerce and labour officials to brief it on the socioeconomic impact of the second wave of Covid-19.

At a meeting held here on Monday, the panel members, grilled the officials from the ministries of Home and Health on the “inconsistencies” in lockdown guidelines, social security measures and the vaccination drive.

A member in the panel said they discussed the precautions the governments should have taken to control the second wave of Covid-19. “The Union Government did know that a second wave of Covid-19 is coming. But despite that they were not alert and did not take any steps to ensure the availability of oxygen cylinders and medicines etc,” the senior member said.

Members in the Opposition side are learnt to have told the meeting that lack of alertness of the Centre resulted in a catastrophe. The BJP members, however, remained silent on the matter but supported a note circulated by the Union Home Ministry and the arguments of Health Ministry officials that they did their best during the second wave.

The Opposition members also said that the socioeconomic conditions deteriorated as many industries collapsed and unemployment increased after the lockdowns. They demanded the Centre provide cash in the hands of people so that economy could also have got some benefits.

When asked about the note of the Home Ministry, an Opposition member said it was a “mere collection” of some of the reports appeared in newspapers. “It was not at all satisfactory. All senior officials were giving details of the real issues people face,” he added.

‘Gearing for third wave’

The members, cutting across political affiliations, asked the Centre to explain the steps they have taken to manage a possible third wave of the disease. “When will the third wave come, we asked. But the Centre had no answer. We also asked its possible impact on those who received both the doses of vaccines against Covid-19. But the officials merely reiterated what scientists have been saying. The government hasn’t taken a view of its own based on the inputs from scientists and doctors. They have also not given any directions to the States on the possible nature of the third wave,” another member said.

The MPs decided to get more information on the issue. “We will study the impact of lockdown on the economy. Many have lost their jobs and wages. We need to know the steps taken by the governments. We will hear from other economic ministries on the impact of second wave on people,” the member said.

Standing Committees on Labour, Science and Technology, Health, the Public Accounts Committee and the Finance Standing Committee are also looking at various aspects in Covid management separately.

Published on June 28, 2021

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