The Prime Minister’s Office has directed Union ministers to file a daily report on various measures being taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 such as quarantine and healthcare facilities, as also steps taken to tackle the impact of the lockdown, including availability of essential items.
All Union ministers have been assigned a state with the direction to maintain daily contact with district magistrates and superintendents of police on steps being taken to check the spread of coronavirus, which has infected over 700 people in the country and claimed at least 17 lives.
The ministers have also been asked to send their feedback to the PMO “on a daily basis so that loopholes and red tape” in implementing decisions to check the spread of the virus can be done away with.
There are two major aspects on which these ministers have to submit their reports — steps taken to contain the spread of the virus, and action taken to tackle the impact of the lockdown imposed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, sources said.
Apart from keeping a tab on number of positive cases, people under isolation and those quarantined, the ministers have been asked to assess the difficulties being faced by people during lockdown, availability of food in general as well as nutrition for children, they said.
“We have started working since yesterday, soon after getting the letter from the PMO,” said a Union minister.
These ministers are instructed to work as a bridge between the Centre and the States, sources added.
Another minister said the idea behind the exercise was also to cut levels of bureaucracy but not to infringe upon the rights of any state. “Faster flow of information helps the Centre react to difficulties at the grass-roots level,” the minister said.
Asserting that officials at the district level know the actual situation, the minister said therefore feedback from them is “precious” in saving lives by equipping states with what they need.
The ministers have also been asked to keep an eye on whether the directions issued by the Central government were being implemented.
While most of the ministers have been given responsibility of their home states, some have been given charge of other states also.
While Rajnath Singh, Mahendranath Pandey and Krishnalal Singh have been given charge of Uttar Pradesh, Nitin Gadkari and Prakash Javadekar will take care of Maharashtra.
Ram Vilas Paswan and Ravi Shankar Prasad will look after Bihar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been assigned Jharkhand.
Dharmendra Pradan will be in charge of Odisha while Gajendra Singh Shekhawat will look after Rajasthan and Punjab.