Monday 13 April 2020

Men of Steel do not get Covid-19...

At 8pm on 23 March ‘2020, PM Narendra Modi in a televised address to the nation announced that from 00:00 hours 24 March ‘2020 India shall go on a Covid-19 lock down. Considering the severity of Covid-19 pandemic, I feel this was a bold as well as an important decision taken by PM Modi . On consulting a few experts, I am convinced with the logic that if the chain of contamination could be broken, probability of mitigating the devastating effect of Covid-19 pandemic, stands better.

On the 24th of March ‘2020, over the phone, few of my constituents from Dhenkanal district of Odisha connected with my office, with a situation of theirs. I was told that even though everybody in India had been asked by PM Modi to stay at home,  Tata Steel  BSL Dhenkanal plant workers were being forced by their management to come to work. To the same my office, connected with the Tata Group officials and to my surprise, I  learnt that the company had already been given permission by Ministry of Steel, Government of India to work as usual and that Covid-19 India lock down did not imply on them.

This particular Steel plant, am told has thousands of people working in it. Which means, chances of Covid-19 contamination was exposed to those thousands of workers, their families, their friends as well as their neighbours.  Considering this to be a potential Covid-19 time bomb, I asked my office to connect me with decision makers as well as with enforcers of Odisha.  That is when your’s truly learnt that Covid-19 India lock down exemption to the steel industry of India (not just to the Tata Group ) had been given as per Essential Services Maintenance Act which had been passed by the Parliament of India in year 1981. As per Section 2(1)(a)(xii) of this said act- production ,supply and distribution of Steel as well as its input materials shall be considered as ‘essential goods’.

How I wish for the parliamentarians of India in 1981 to have had a fore vision, that some time during the end of year 2019, the world might face a pandemic such as the Covid-19 pandemic.  Am totally confused, it shall be nice if any one of you could explain. Will any living organism cease to exist if steel isn’t produced during these testing times of Covid-19 lock down? Are the lives of our steel workers any less valuable than any of us who have been staying at home during this lock down, to save our life as well as the life of others?

This is a matter of concern for all the workers of the Steel Industry in India and not just of Tata Steel BSL workers. The Bharat Ratna aspirant, the otherwise very benevolent Ratan Tata is probably the eldest and arguably the most respected Steel Industry captain. History shall not be kind to him if he ‘does not stand up’ for Covid-19 safety of his own workers if not for all the workers of the Steel Industry in India.

Men of steel do not get Covid-19 ? or what?