Ritika Gupta, Swati Solanki, Sakshi Sharda, Ishika Chaudhary, Arjun Kumar
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected Indian states and Union Territories and Chhattisgarh has been no exception. Due to issues like lack of infrastructure and human resources, both rural and urban people were caged in the web of grief and misery wherein even to see one’s loved one last time who succumbed to Coronavirus became an act of privilege.
Focusing on the Rural Realities around the country during the pandemic, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS)andIMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi by the joint efforts of “Parmarth Sevi Sanstha” (Uttar Pradesh) organized a Panel Discussion on “Rural Realities | Chhattisgarh | Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 20, 2021.
This article is an excerpt of the presentation given by Mahima Kapoor and the IMPRI team which provided an overview of the COVID-19 situation in India with special reference to Chhattisgarh to set the context for the broader discussion on the topic by the esteemed panelists.
Chhattisgarh is a state in the central region of India. It was a part of Madhya Pradesh before it was granted statehood on November 1st, 2000. It shares borders with Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. Chhattisgarh’s capital city is Raipur, with Bilaspur, Korba, and Raigarh being other major cities.
It has a population of 2.94 crores divided into 5 divisions of Bilaspur, Surguja, Durg, Raipur, and Bastar, with further 28 districts. Scheduled Tribes make up 30.62% of the population. The tribals are an important part of the state population and mainly inhabit the dense forests of Bastar and other districts of south Chhattisgarh.
Looking at the socio-economic indicators, we see that Chhattisgarh’s performance is average. Its literacy rate and HDI score are below the national mean. In terms of per capita income and sustainable development goals, it ranks 25thand 11th, respectively. Chhattisgarh houses 77% of its population in rural areas, significantly higher than the national estimate.
COVID-19 Second Wave
During the pandemic, Chhattisgarh saw an accelerating increase in the number of new cases, which landed it in the top 10 worst-hit states of India. In the first wave, the new cases gradually increased to hit the peak at 3,896 on 25th September 2020.
The numbers in the second wave were roughly 5 times as compared to the first. It hit its peak at 17,397 on 23rd April 2021. In totality, the number of cases has been 9,25,531, out of which 88.9% have recovered and 1.3% succumbed. The rest 9.8% are active cases, that is for every 100 confirmed cases, about 10 are currently infected.
To mitigate the spread of the virus, the state government has imposed strict regulations. In fact, Chhattisgarh ranks 3rd in the severity of lockdown restrictions. It involves both rural and urban areas and night and weekend curfews. This curfew had been extended till 31st May.
Counting The Dead
As of 20 May 2021, the death toll in Madhya Pradesh reached a total of 7,227 deaths with a death rate of 1%. In Chhattisgarh, the pandemic situation had been improving. The positivity rate in the state came down to around 10% from 30% in April.
In terms of vaccinations as well, the state has geared up. So far, as of 18 May 2021, 60,74,384 vaccines have been administered. About 20,000 vaccines are available for every 100 thousand people, making Chhattisgarh 3rd in case of availability.
There is a pertinent set of emerging issues faced by the state. The number of hospitals and medical staff had shot up, but there was pressure on ICU beds and testing kits. Vaccination of people in the 18-44 age groups has been suspended due to non-availability.
On a positive tone, Chhattisgarh has become a lifeline for states in need of medical oxygen such as Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. As of 15 May 2021, 114.93 MT of oxygen was supplied to the corona patients of the state and 175.27 MT of oxygen to other states. The state has been taking all the necessary steps to minimize the impact of the second wave and prepare for a third wave in moving towards a healthy and prosperous Chhattisgarh.