These are testing times for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The aftermath of the tragedy in the Gorakhpur district of Eastern UP, where over 70 people, mostly children, died in the Baba Raghav Das Medical College due to medical negligence, is still a fresh memory.
This along with the occurrence of other calamities in the state has begun to raise heads. Nearly two dozen districts of Uttar Pradesh are facing the threat of floods and the state is in the grip of swine flu. The recent addition is a fresh case of dengue that has been reported from the state capital.
By the state government’s own admission at least 22 districts and 1.2 million people are already affected by floods in the state. Over 1,000 villages have been marooned. Incessant rain, continuing in the Eastern part of the state, is only making the situation worse. All rivers in the state are running above or near the danger mark.
According to statements issued by the government, recently 1,758 rowing boats and 57 motor boats have been deployed to the relief services. The government has set up nearly 200 relief camps in which more than 9,000 people have found shelter.
Forces, including 10 teams of the National Disaster Response Force, 13 teams of Provincial Armed Constabulary battalion, and state police have been involved in rescuing people from nearly a thousand villages that have been inundated with water.
After the recent floods, which resulted in the death of at least 33 people, the armed forces have also been pitched in to help out with the rescue operations.
Meanwhile, making the situation worse, swine flu has become pandemic in the state. So far, over 1,000 cases have tested positive, nevertheless only a few sporadic deaths have occurred.
The seriousness of the scenario can be gauged with the fact that the government had to issue an advisory to all schools to stop holding their morning assemblies so to protect children from catching or spreading the infection.
However, the grim picture of the state has at least woken up the government from its deep slumber as far as sanitation and hygiene is concerned. The government has realised that the root cause for the spread of diseases, such as Japanese Encephalitis, Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, swine flu and dengue is the filth on streets and water logging.
State Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar has issued orders for a special sanitation drive across the state from August 17 to 25.
The drive is to continue in 13 districts of Eastern UP and the Terai region until the end of the month, as these districts are in the grip of encephalitis. Ensuring that the cleaning of the districts is not done only on paper, the Chief Secretary has directed the departments concerned to gather photographic evidence and present them to the government along with progress reports.
If this was not enough for the Yogi government to handle, Shiksha Mitra from all over the state are agitating and holding demonstrations. They teach in primary schools and their demand is to be upgraded as assistant teachers.
To make matters worse is the recent phone call threatening Yogi’s life, which the Delhi Police Control room has received. The police have not been able to trace the location of the caller, and the inquiry into the threat call has been handed over to a special cell.
Despite the government being surrounded by natural and manmade calamities, the Bhartiya Janata Party does not show any sign of restlessness. It pretends to be confident and relaxed with the way the government is functioning.
“There would be challenges for any government that feels responsible towards people, and works with accountability - the way Yogi government is working,” says the party spokesperson Dr Chandra Mohan. He rather blames the ‘bad doings’ of the previous government for more challenges and delayed results.
The government is now also facing a Public Interest Litigation in Gorakhpur incident. Challenging the government action, the petition blamed the government for hiding the facts and shielding the guilty. The court has directed the state government and the Directorate of Medical Education to a file a detailed counter affidavit within six weeks, fixing October 9 as the next date of hearing.
Alka Pande is an independent journalist, travel blogger & photographer based in Lucknow. She writes on issues relating to government policies, environment, health, business, and human resources.More columns by Alka Pande: