How Gujarat, One of India’s Richest States, Botched Up the Handling of Covid-19


How Gujarat, One of India’s Richest States, Botched Up the Handling of Covid-19

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Two days after the coronavirus lockdown was partially lifted in the orange and green zones, the headlines from other parts of the country remained as bleak as ever, with a few states and districts recording a sharp rise in cases.

Of these states is Gujarat, which has seen 49 deaths — the highest in a single day, so far — and 441 positive coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.

The total number of positive cases in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state has now crossed 6,000, cementing its position as the second-most affected in India. According to reports on Tuesday, however, there’s fears that the mortality rate, at 5 percent, is now higher in Gujarat than it is in Maharashtra.

The sudden spike in cases over the last week hasn’t gone unnoticed by BJP leaders at the Centre. A report in Ahmedabad Mirror says the central government has reprimanded the state, and asked it to carry out a course-correction to salvage the situation.

Gujarat, led by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, has also failed to handle the migrant crisis, the report adds, after it emerged on Tuesday that the state was still charging migrants for tickets, which the Centre has insisted wouldn’t happen.

Another report in the Hindu, meanwhile, says that a few seasoned officers were put in charge of major Covid-19 posts in the state. Among these three IAS officers to get new responsibilities on Tuesday was Dr Rajiv Kumar Gupta, who will now oversee the overall handling of Ahmedabad city, including its containment and management efforts.

“New Delhi was not happy with the way the situation was getting out of hand in Gujarat,” the report quotes an official as saying.

In the last week of April, Gujarat saw daily cases rise by a staggering 70 per cent in one week, and has recorded over 300 cases per day consistently since. The state government says both are a result of increased testing. As have the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, which have consistently recorded a high number of cases.

It’s been over 40 days since the lockdown was imposed in the country, and clearly some states have coped with the pandemic better than others. For now, all we can do is hope that the worst is behind us.