Maharashtra has literally become India’s Hubei amidst the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic. And the focus is now shifting from Mumbai to Pune. Pune has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, next only to Mumbai and Thane. The numbers are on the rise and currently Pune has more active cases than Mumbai.
In a conversation with TFIPOST, Siddharth Shirole, BJP MLA from the Shivajinagar Constituency, Pune revealed how the state government has failed the city, bringing it at the cusp of a major disaster.
Siddharth Shirole said, “Pune is a few days away from a medical catastrophe.” He added, “State Govt. has failed.” The Shivajinagar MLA has sought intervention from the Centre given the grim situation in Pune. He also said, “The Pune District is among the top 3 districts in the country in terms of active COVID-19 infections.”
The BJP MLA has alleged that while Prime Minister Modi’s national lockdown was supposed to create an intervening period for boosting healthcare infrastructure, the Uddhav Thackeray government chose not to do anything. As a result, Pune is suffering an acute shortage of medical facilities.
Shirole added that there is a serious shortfall of ICUs and ventilators in the premier city of Maharashtra. He tweeted, “As per the latest numbers Pune is currently facing a shortfall off over 200 ICU & 100 Ventilator beds which has led to numerous citizens losing their lives.”
1,282 people have already died in Pune. 29,583 out of 49,037 Coronavirus cases were still active in Pune at the time of writing this story. What this means is that the fate of more than half the total cases is still unknown and as per the Shivajinagar MLA, the city is also facing an acute shortage of necessary medical equipment.
Shirole has also alleged that the Thackeray government is coercing private hospitals into taking charge of the situation. However, unlike other states, Maharashtra never built a 10000-bed hospital to take care of the rising caseload.
Due to lack of medical facilities, Pune is back to square one. The city is now going into total lockdown akin to the first nation-wide lockdown that was imposed more than one hundred days ago. Lockdowns beyond a particular duration impose their own costs upon the local residents.
Shirole said that there was a lockdown four days ago which led to a major food crisis. Pune could thus be facing the double-whammy of new lockdowns along with a public health emergency.
Meanwhile, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government remains out of touch with the Coronavirus-battered city. Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad was recently transferred by the Uddhav Thackeray government and replaced with Vikram Kumar, who is presently the CEO of the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
Gaikwad was appointed six months ago by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government itself. The Shivajinagar MLA has pointed out how a transfer from a crucial post took place right in the middle of the Pandemic and five days were wasted in the handover itself.
Shirole alleges complete abandonment by the state government leadership. He said, “Thackeray ji has not made a single visit to Pune in the past 100 days either to oversee preparedness or even to encourage the COVID19 warriors.”
According to the BJP MLA, there has been no interaction of the state government with the elected representative of Pune. He said, “CM Uddhav Thackeray ji has till date not called for an update or review meeting via phone/video conference with elected representatives of Pune who are working on the ground during this unprecedented pandemic.”
The MLA further told TFIPOST that he has sent several e-mails but only an acknowledgment has been received without any concrete action. He tweeted, “Even emails from my office are yet to receive a reply.”
Neither is the state government interested in interacting with the single-largest party in the Maharashtra legislature, the BJP. The Maha Vikas Aghadi government has a lot to learn from the former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who had proved to be one of the most capable administrators in the state’s history. However, Aditya Thackeray said that Fadnavis was doing ‘disaster tourism’ in the crucial time when a Pandemic is going on.
The Thackeray scion has been blaming the BJP leaders while it is the Uddhav Thackeray government that has failed Pune. When Aditya Thackeray tweeted that Central Ministries and Air India should bring back people of Maharashtra safely, he was called out by Shirole.
The BJP MLA had said, “GoI, MEA, has been proactive with its Vande Bharat Mission but GoM (or some dept. out of your control) is dragging feet & holding back permissions.”
All that Aditya Thackeray could then manage was to impliedly call Shirole a “troll”.
The situation in Pune looks grim and it seems that another premier city of Maharashtra will get ravaged by the ongoing Pandemic. Maharashtra is going to come out looking very different once we are past this Pandemic. Cities like Pune and Mumbai might no longer be the same as an inefficient administration and lack of commitment from the state government has pushed these cities towards a historic crisis.