THE denial of compensation to the families of migrant labourers, who lost their lives walking back hundreds and thousands of kilometres from metropolitan cities to their homes in rural India when they were rendered jobless after a sudden imposition of a nationwide lockdown, epitomises the insensitivity of the central government towards the plight of the underprivileged. Also, the decision taken to cap the rates for COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals with ICU facilities in Goa has virtually ensured that the state government has shut the doors of private hospitals for the common man. Touted to be a government of the aam aadmi, it thus becomes difficult to envisage what exactly the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Goa have planned to alleviate the woes of the common man in the times of the pandemic. It was indeed a heartrending scene when millions of migrants from rural India, who were employed in various sectors in big cities across the country, found themselves out of job and without any other source of income after the lockdown. With quite a few fatalities reported en route, the journey back home was not less than a struggle for many of them. The government’s plea that since there is absence of data on the deaths of migrants the question of paying compensation does not arise is indicative of its callousness towards their predicament. The central government was quite oblivious to the fact that the emphasis on the lockdown based on calculations that the rampaging virus could be checked by prolonged closure was taking its toll on the aam janta, especially the migrant labourers. Closer to home, with Goa continuing to report an alarming surge in new cases of COVID-19, it was expected that the government would make private healthcare facility available to the public. But the move by the state government to cap the rates to ensure that the citizens are not fleeced by the private hospitals comes as a big irony! The government should have been concentrating on putting a system in place so as to guarantee affordable treatment for everyone.
PACHU MENON, MARGAO