Wrong to sideline CSOs/NGOs in combating COVID-19: MICAN

IMPHAL, 17th May: Unhappy over the government’s decision of cancelling all curfew passes issued to NGOs/CSOs and restricting them from direct distribution of relief materials to needy public who are enduring lockdown hardships, Meetei International Civic Action Network (MICAN) has come down heavily on the office memorandum issued by the chief secretary on Saturday and appealed to Chief Minister N Biren not to push aside the role of NGOs and CSOs in combating COVID-19 pandemic.
In a release, MICAN chief co-ordinator Athouba Meitei lamented over the outlook of the state government towards the members of CSOs and NGOs who are toiling hard and risking their lives every day in combating novel coronavirus by distributing essential commodities to the poor and needy people in different parts of the state.
Decrying over imposition of restriction in movement and extending humanitarian services to the needy people, Athouba termed it ‘unfortunate’ that the people of Manipur had high hope on Chief Minister N Biren for maintaining good relation with people and NGOS/CSOs.
Pointing out that people of hills and valley were getting closer, exchanging gifts and starting to help and care for one another during the ongoing lockdown, he lamented that imposition of restriction and banning of distribution of relief materials have made the people to rethink over the expectations they had from the ‘People’s CM’.
Stating that there were no reports or evidence of violating lockdown protocols and social distancing norms by NGOs/Clubs/CSOs while extending assistance to distress people, Athouba asked the government whether it would be able to reach out to all those people in far flung areas and address the grievances of every individual through its machineries in absence of CSOs/NGOs/local clubs during this crisis situation.
Observing that reaching out to specific target groups through designated Food Banks of District Administration is not pragmatic, Athouba appealed to the government for reviewing its decision.
Asserting that it is the members of CSOs/NGOs engaged in providing relief materials to people and not the government officials possessing IDs who require curfew passes, he urged the government to review its decision of cancelling curfew passes of CSOs/NGOs.
Expressing concern over the increasing cases of COVID-19 active cases in the state and possibilities of Manipur to get ‘Red Zone’ status in near future, Athouba stressed on the need to strengthen e-commerce and Home Delivery System in the state so that people could stay in their homes and all essential commodities are easily made available to them.
Pointing out the role of CSOs/NGOs and people in home delivery services during this crucial time, he urged the government to introduce a simple mechanism of issuing curfew passes to them without much formalities. Asserting that it would be wrong on the part of the government to push aside the NGOs/CSOs/Clubs in combating the deadly pandemic, Athouba appealed to the government for reviewing its decision and urged everyone for observing lockdown protocols for containing the COVID-19.

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