Not convincing

Editor,

Apropos the report “Conrad defends James, denies coal illegalities” (ST Oct 13), I am not surprised by the response of the Chief Minister. Tell me, which Chief Minister will admit to such blatant illegalities? It’s not just about Conrad Sangma defending his elder brother. I don’t think Mukul Sangma would have taken any different stance had there been similar allegations against his younger brother Zenith Sangma. The truth is that nobody in power is willing to concede that such organised crime against the state is happening under their watch. Can we forget the circumstances leading to removal of James Sangma from Home portfolio? Is it not true that chief minister initially looked the other way? Is it not true that names of some persons close to James Sangma figured in the media reports alleging smuggling of coal from East Jaintia Hills district against the direction of NGT? Is it not a fact that only when the coalition partners put pressure on the Chief Minister that he took the easiest step of removing James Sangma from the Home department? Obviously, there was evidence of wrong doing. Otherwise, there would have been no reason for such an action by the Chief Minister.

Come to think of it, James Sangma did not open his mouth even once to defend his personal reputation. Even now when the BJP has named him, he has maintained a curious silence. To my mind, instead of Conrad Sangma defending his brother, James Sangma himself should have denied the charge. After all, it is his name which is getting sullied.
The Chief Minister’s other statement that movement of coal trucks from Meghalaya to Assam doesn’t mean all are illegal may be true. But then, has the Chief Minister forgotten that a CBI probe is going on in Assam’s Karimganj district regarding a scam of smuggling coal to Bangladesh with official patronage? Has the Chief Minister forgotten that Beltola police in Guwahati have detained coal trucks and arrested truck drivers engaged in illegal trade?
The Chief Minister’s proposal to set up integrated check gates with CCTV facility only adds oxygen to the common belief that Meghalaya’s precious coal is getting sold outside in a clandestine manner at the cost of precious revenue for the state.  If everything was hunky dory then where is the need to have CCTV? Incidentally, if I remember correctly, this proposal was mooted by the previous MUA government but conveniently not implemented by anybody.

To conclude I would like to see the issue discussed in the forthcoming Assembly session in a responsible and dispassionate manner without having to score brownie point. Can we trust our MLAs—-both ruling and opposition—to rise as one against this silent haemorrhage that Meghalaya has been suffering?

Yours etc.,

Pynshngain Jyrwa,

Via email

 

 

Outdated Information

 

Editor,

A day after my letter, ‘Where’s the transparency’ (ST Oct, 08, 2020) was published in your esteemed daily, another news item, ‘Why persons testing positive are not given their results?‘ (ST Oct, 09, 2020) came as a response to my doubts and the doubts of a large number of people as well. Upon this, the aforementioned news item states that it is not only the state of Meghalaya that does not disburse the reports to those testing positive, but also cites the case of the state of Maharashtra to be doing the same thing. It states, “The Brihanmumbai Municipal  Corporation (BMC) has also changed its testing protocols and prohibited laboratories from sharing COVID-19 positive reports directly with patients.” This statement corresponds to a notification issued by the BMC on June 13, 2020 to all testing labs, within the jurisdiction of its operation. However, it is here that we have to do some fact checking so that the people will not be blinded or misguided by outdated information by the concerned people who make the daily press briefings with regards to information on the status of COVID-19 in the state.

I would like to state that the aforementioned statement of the BMC vide a notification on the above said date, saw a backdrop, as it had to roll back its stand to not disburse reports of those testing positive, when the Supreme Court of India, on June 19, 2020, which is a week after the BMC’s order to testing laboratories, ordered the Government of Maharashtra that irrespective of one being positive or negative, the state shall provide Covid-19 test reports directly to patients or relatives.

On equating the state of Meghalaya to the BMC’s official’s statement over non disbursal of reports to those testing positive on grounds that the objective is to prevent panic, as people start looking for hospital beds, even if they do not need one, I feel that this is subjective and varies from person to person. I believe those asymptomatic positive patients here would discernibly do the needful to isolate themselves at home or institutional facilities, rather than taking the trouble to hospitalise themselves. But the essential point is that one should not be denied his/her report, irrespective of being tested positive or negative.

Also, on the statement being made that the only reason for not informing a person testing positive over mobile is to reduce panic and stress, so that proper counseling can be given to him or her, on the contrary I would like to ask as to how anyone testing positive be able to keep calm and relax when he/she is unable to see his/her report about testing positive even while anticipating for the result? In fact whether one tests positive or negative, one would always be in a state of anxiety until the results are known.

Further, with regards to the statement made by one of the senior bureaucrats in the state that the first concern of those who test positive is that they are often stigmatised by those in their localities is rather vague. I would say, let the locality know. Stigmatisation would not stand long if no one bothers about it.  Alternatively if those testing positive are concerned about stigmatisation despite the availability of counseling facilities, then I would say it is better for Government not to put the names of houses under micro-containment, publicly in the papers or pasting that information outside the victims’ houses, but to instead just advise them about following protocols of isolation and telling them that their house would be considered a micro-containment area, thus ensuring privacy and probably less intensity of stigmatisation by others.

These are some of the things that I’ve pondered about as a response to the aforementioned news item. I look forward to seeing the government mitigating aptly fit solutions to such problems concerning the non-uniformity in the disbursal of reports among those testing Covid positive and those testing Covid negative in the state.

Yours etc;

Mewan Pariat;

Shillong

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