The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected Indian states and Union Territories and Madhya Pradesh 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) and IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, by the joint efforts of Parmarth Sevi Sanstha (Uttar Pradesh) organised a panel discussion on Rural Realities | Madhya Pradesh | Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages on 20 May, 2021.
This article is an excerpt of the presentation given by Ramya Kathal and the IMPRI team which provided an overview of the COVID-19 situation in India with special reference to Madhya Pradesh to set the context for the broader discussion on the topic by the esteemed panellists.
Madhya Pradesh literally translates to the Central Province. The capital is Bhopal, and the larger cities are Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Ujjain, Satna, and Sagar. Madhya Pradesh is the second-largest Indian state by area and the fifth largest state by population with over 72 million residents.
It borders the states of Uttar Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the southeast, Maharashtra to the south, Gujarat to the west and Rajasthan to the northwest.
Rich in mineral resources, Madhya Pradesh has the largest reserves of diamond and copper in India. More than 30% of its area is under forest cover. The tourism industry of the state has also seen considerable growth in recent times.
The economy of Madhya Pradesh is the tenth-largest state economy in India with ₹8.09 lakh crore in Gross Domestic Product and a per capita GDP of ₹90,000. Madhya Pradesh ranks 32nd among Indian states in the Human Development Index.
For a population that comprises a third of the north-central Hindi belt of India, socio-economic indicators depict that Madhya Pradesh has more than the national average population living in the rural areas, the sex ratio in the state is a bit more male-dominated and the literacy rate is also lower than the national average.
In the first wave of the COVID-19, by 30 June, 2020, Madhya Pradesh had a mortality rate of 4.22% and was among the three worst-hit states in the country, along with Maharashtra and Delhi.
As the second wave of COVID-19 spread faster and deeper than the first, by mid-April, Madhya Pradesh was already one of the worst-hit states in the country, along with Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab. As of 20 May, 2021, total cases in Madhya Pradesh reached about 7 lakhs, with 77,607 active cases at a rate of 10%.
Keeping the severity of the spread in mind, heavy lockdowns have been imposed on the state, with only the essential services under work. With the lockdowns being extended to the end of May, necessary actions are being taken to flatten the curve.
As of 20 May, 2021, the death toll in Madhya Pradesh reached a total of 7,227 deaths with a death rate of 1%. As the number of patients in hospitals reduced and the number of deaths had also gone down, recoveries increased in Bhopal. The state government also directed that a dedicated task force should be set up for arrangements related to the treatment of Black Fungus.
In terms of the vaccination drive, Madhya Pradesh has the seventh-largest pool of cumulative vaccines, but on the contrary, the state lags behind, with only 1.18 doses for every 100 people.
Lives and livelihood in the state of Madhya Pradesh have been deeply impacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state is also facing problems with the unavailability of healthcare requirements and the shortages in the medical infrastructure.
To manage the shortage of medical oxygen in some of the worst-hit cities by the second wave, a second oxygen express had also been sent out from Bokaro. Various independent civil societies, trust funds and NGOs are taking a commendable number of actions to fight back the mass spread of this disease.
In order to minimize the impact of the second wave and prepare for a third wave, various task forces comprising experts and senior officials have been made to address issues like the availability of medical oxygen in moving towards healthy and prosperous Madhya Pradesh.
Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda, Ishika Chaudhary, Ramya Kathal, Mahima Kapoor, Swati Solanki, Chhavi Kapoor, Arjun Kumar and IMPRI Team