Nurses complain of masks shortage, Tripura slaps ESMA
The Tripura government has invoked the Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) after a few nurses at a state-run hospital in Agartala complained about the shortage of masks and other protective equipment in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Agartala: The Tripura government has invoked the Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) after a few nurses at a state-run hospital in Agartala complained about the shortage of masks and other protective equipment in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Tripura is the second state after Madhya Pradesh to have enforced the Act of 1986, which gives the police the right to arrest without a warrant anybody violating the ESMA's provisions. Under it, employees in a long list of "essential services" like post and telegraph, railway, airport and port operations are prohibited from going on strike.
The decision to invoke the Act came shortly after Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb warned that strict action would be taken against the nurses who complained to the media about a shortage of masks and other protective equipment at the state-run GB Pant Hospital.
"In order to better manage the COVID-19 outbreak in the interest of citizens, from today the government has implemented the Essential Services Management Act with immediate effect in Tripura," Deb said late on Thursday night. The Act mandates imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or fine which may extend to Rs 1,000, or with both, to any person who instigates a strike which is illegal under this Act.
Health Secretary Debashish Basu told reporters that show-cause notices were issued against the 18 nurses who levelled the allegations of shortage. He said their attitude was condemnable during a tough time like this. The chief minister said the state government has decided that officials of secretary level and above would only be allowed to interact with the media to check misinformation.
Deb said the state's lone patient is recovering. According to official data, 985 persons are now in isolation in Tripura and of them, 829 are in-home quarantine and 156 in state-run facilities. A total of 1,0467 persons were kept under surveillance since the outbreak. Among them, 274 were tested for the disease and only one person's report came back as positive.