Deadly Coronavirus is killing people across India. The story of her J&K is no different. Both Jammu province and Kashmir Valley are losing people due to the virus. The death rate in Jammu is very high. After April 30, as many as 595 people died in Jammu due to the life-swallowing of Corona. Kashmir witnessed 334 deaths due to the same virus.
No wonder then that the authorities at the Centre sent a three-member team of specialists to Jammu on Sunday for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation and to find the reasons behind so many deaths in this province. The team members visited Jammu and Samba districts and returned after issuing some instructions to the doctors. What actually transpired during the meetings between the Central team and local doctors/ authorities is still not in the public domain. Only they know. Perhaps, what transpired between them was classified information.
The case in point is the arrival at Srinagar Airport from Germany of seven OGPs on May 17 and a statement from the J&K Raj Bhawan hailing PM Narendra Modi in this regard leading to a critical response in Jammu for obvious reasons.
Meantime, the concerned authorities have made a startling revelation that makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the medical authorities in Kashmir have been taking all the necessary steps to save the lives of Covid patients and their counterparts in Jammu have been lagging behind.
According to a report, which emanated from New Delhi on May 17, inter-alia, said: “Officials in the (J&K) Mechanical Engineering Department, the authority responsible to acquire these plants (Oxygen Generating Plants), said Kashmir and Jammu divisions were allotted Rs.125 crore each to acquire 37 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen units for each division by March 31. Officials in Kashmir were able to acquire some of the units amid the surging Coronavirus cases, while the supply order in Jammu got delayed till May 7 owing to the failure of the commencement of the contract with their supplier”.
The officials in Kashmir have always been more than prompt and that they have hardly failed to produce the desired results is not a secret. They have hardly failed the people of Kashmir. And that their counterparts in Jammu — under the same government and the same Commissioner/ Secretaries – have all through lagged behind or were made to sit idle and not act so that funds could be diverted from Jammu to Kashmir is also not a secret.
It would be only in order to quote verbatim what Bodh Raj, Executive Engineer of Mechanical Hospital and Central Heating at Jammu division said in this regard. He reportedly said: “They have already installed 14 oxygen plants in various hospitals of Jammu. Kashmir managed to get them before us, so the authorities thought about distributing the oxygen plants. Lives have to be saved. Every hour matters”.
As the controversy gained ground, a report from Chandigarh said: “Five Kashmir oxygen generation units diverted to Jammu”.
The kind of infrastructure Kashmir has and the speed with which it was created and being created should help clinch the whole issue. It should establish that there are two subordinate governments in J&K under the one supreme government with one charged with the responsibility of catering to the needs of Kashmir very pro-active and the one created for Jammu inactive, callous and irresponsible for reasons not really difficult to fathom. Here lies the root cause of all the ills afflicting the people of Jammu province since 1947. It must remain a matter of concern that the Jammu-based political class openly and brazenly takes recourse to what could be termed as a policy of political mendicancy believing that Jammu is a Kashmir’s colony and it’s subservient to Kashmir.
In the meantime, the row over Oxygen Generating Plants (OGPs) has assumed alarming proportions. The case in point is the arrival at Srinagar Airport from Germany of seven OGPs on May 17 and a statement from the J&K Raj Bhawan hailing PM Narendra Modi in this regard leading to a critical response in Jammu for obvious reasons. These seven OGPs were airlifted by the Indian Air Force plane from Germany’s Munich.
Commenting on the arrival of the OGPs in Kashmir, Bashir Ahmad Khan, Advisor to LG Manoj Sinha, claimed that these would meet the requirements of Kashmir. He also said: “Had PM Narendra Modi not taken a personal interest in the matter, it would have taken at least two more months for these plants to reach Srinagar. It was because of the personal intervention of the PM that these plants reached Srinagar in two days. We have already created the infrastructure for these plants. We simply have to install them and these would start generating oxygen in a few days”. Kashmir already has 34 OGPs against 12 in Jammu province with Srinagar district alone having at least 12 OGPs.
As the controversy gained ground, a report from Chandigarh said: “Five Kashmir oxygen generation units diverted to Jammu”. The report, among other things, said: “As Jammu division has witnessed a surge in Covid-related deaths in the past three weeks, five oxygen plants meant for Kashmir hospitals have been diverted to Jammu”.
A report quoting Mechanical Engineering Department’s Chief Engineer Abdul Rashid Dar admitted that “they have shifted a few plants to Jammu. Only two plants of 1000 LPM capacity have been diverted. Their contract had failed. We had secured our contract on time, so we are placing orders for six plants from here for Jammu for now…Of the 37 PSA oxygen generation units ordered for Kashmir, 34 were from Germany while three were to be acquired from an American company. We have already acquired 20 and seven more are being airlifted”.
However, the report that a few OGPs have been diverted to Jammu provoked the PDP. It was so provoked that it issued Monday evening a highly objectionable statement: “The diversion of OGPs from Kashmir to Jammu a daylight robbery”. Not just this, Doctors Association Kashmir president and influenza expert Nisar ul Haasan said that “Jammu and Kashmir are part of the same region, but ‘siphoning off’ the infrastructure of one place for another was unacceptable”. In addition, “experts”, according to the report, “warned that diverting medical assets from one place to another could be a riskier proposition”. They reportedly said that “despite the need for oxygen plants in Kashmir, three of the Valley’s 1,000 litres-per-minute (LPM) units have already been shifted to Jammu, while two more will be given to the division after they arrive here from Germany”.
All this should set the record straight. One thing is absolutely clear: If Jammu province is to survive, it has to have a totally independent dispensation of Kashmir.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.