Life-livelihood balance pandemic priority, says CM

SHILLONG, Sep 14: Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday said the state government tried to strike a balance between life and livelihood as it fought the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement was in the context of opposition Congress’s claim about alleged loopholes in the government’s strategy to combat the disease.
Replying to a query from Congress MLA, Winnerson D Sangma during question hour in the Assembly, Sangma said, “A large part of the strategy is containment. While we take steps to contain the virus spread and restrict movement, we also need to think of the livelihood and day to day activities of people. Therefore, there should be a balance.”
He said there were times when the state was under a lockdown and then, the government allowed the resumption of activities in the interest of people.
The government tried to decentralize decision-making on what should be the nature of lockdown, \ to what extent and areas to be covered under it etc, Sangma said.
“We felt the condition and the situation were different in different districts, so we had to strike a balance between livelihood and the important part of containment,” he said.
Stating that there is no perfect way of handling a pandemic like this and every step taken will have its pros and cons, the CM said, “A perfect solution can never come out. What the government is trying to do is balance out the whole aspects of trying to contain and ensure livelihood. It was a decision based on whatever was felt as the most balanced way of moving forward.”
He said combating the pandemic is a collective responsibility and the departments and the law-enforcement agencies have done all that they could.
Countering him, Leader of Opposition, Mukul Sangma said no one expects perfection while dealing with a pandemic of this scale but not being able to be perfect cannot be an excuse to not correct things as the pandemic is still around and no one can say it will not make an impact.
Pointing out that the market days are frequently changed, he argued, “How does it help if only the day of the market is shifted without ensuring adherence to SOP on ground zero?” Congress MLA, Zenith Sangma too asked about the logic behind the timings and the days to open shops on weekdays.
In his replies, the CM said agencies and officials have done their best to ensure everyone adheres to the SOP.
“We are allowing more shops to resume activities. There is no weekend lockdown. Restrictions, including weekend lockdown, have been already relaxed as the cases have declined,” Sangma said.
He added: “We are happy to take suggestions, if any, as the situation is dynamic and there will never be a perfect situation.”
Congress MLA, Charles Pyngrope urged the CM to consider allowing daily wage earners and domestic helps to move around if there is a lockdown, either full or partial.
He suggested that similar to the opening of shops, this section of the society can be registered with the Rangbah Shnong and permitted to earn a living. The CM said everything will depend on how the situation pans out but the government will consider the suggestion.
The CM asked for a notice when East Shillong legislator, Ampareen Lyngdoh sought to know the amount of fines collected from VVIPs for flouting COVID protocols.
Replying to another query from KHNAM legislator, Adelbert Nongrum on night curfew, Sangma said it is necessary as the state is still in the grip of the pandemic. He said the night curfew is not causing any inconvenience to people, rather it is working as a reminder that the pandemic is still lurking around.

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