Hyderabad: A true government is one which stands by its people when they need it the most. And in that sense, the Covid-19 lockdown and the October floods in Hyderabad are more than enough to prove the credentials of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government.
Back in March, when the first few cases of Covid-19 were reported and the nation went into lockdown, it was the common man who bore the brunt most. The struggle to buy essentials and medicines was not restricted to just those living in containment zones as the virus spread across the city. There were thousands who couldn’t even afford food, and these were apart from the migrant workers for whom the government opened special camps.
That is when the TRS government decided to expand its existing Rs 5 Annapurna Meals scheme. First, the meals were made free. Next, from just for lunch, it was made both lunch and dinner, at free of cost. And as the lockdown continued, the government responded by scaling up the Annapurna scheme from 40,000 meals a day through 140 canteens prior to the lockdown, to 2.8 lakh meals a day for lunch and dinner in the GHMC limits through 340 canteens. It did the same across the State as well.
Even now, much after the Centre’s unlock process began, the GHMC is serving free meals to 50,000 people at noon and another 20,000 at night, with the scheme now being one of the biggest free public feeding programmes in the country. This response of the government to help the poor and migrant workers even found a place among Covid-19 responses mentioned on the UNESCO’s Creative City Network website.
The cutting down of Covid-19 testing costs, capping treatment costs in private hospitals, distribution of home isolation kits, scaling up of tests and continuing free treatment at Gandhi hospital for Covid-19 patients were also happening on the other hand.
And then came the October rains. The night of October 13 saw the beginning of an ordeal, out of which several families are yet to recover. The surging waters from overflowing lakes and water-bodies across the city saw several areas being submerged. From the GHMC’s emergency response teams, the police and the Disaster Response Force, the entire government machinery was pressed into service, with the Army too being called in.
People stranded in partially submerged houses were shifted to relief camps that were set up immediately with food and medicine being distributed free. From Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister KT Rama Rao to several Ministers, the Mayor and the entire GHMC official machinery were on the field wading through knee-deep water to help the people.
Within 48 hours, as the magnitude of the flood impact became clear, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao announced an interim financial assistance of Rs 10,000 each. KT Rama Rao himself, who visited affected areas and interacted with the people for more than seven days on the trot, began personally handing over the relief amount to the affected. Around 300 GHMC teams and 50 in the surrounding municipalities were constituted to distribute the relief. Route plans were made and manpower was mobilised swiftly from the districts to ensure that there was no delay in the process.
On October 15, the Chief Minister wrote to the Prime Minister, asking for an immediate assistance of Rs 1,350 crore for flood relief and rehabilitation works. The rest is history.
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