Directed to set up Covid care centres in premises, Kolhapur sugar millers point to lack of resources, space

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas
| Pune |

Published: August 11, 2020 12:15:42 am





On Sunday, NCP chief and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, while addressing a meeting of sugar millers in Satara, had urged mills to set up CCCs with oxygenated beds to help tackle the pandemic.

Sugar millers in Kolhapur have been taken aback by the district administration’s order to set up Covid care centres (CCCs) in their premises. Expressing concern about the order, which was issued on Monday, some millers told The Indian Express that it was not clear about the financial details of the arrangements or for how long they were expected to run these centres.

Kolhapur has been reporting a steady increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, which has put a strain on the district’s healthcare infrastructure. By Monday evening, more than 10,000 cases have been reported from the district, with the infection spreading to some of its remotest parts.

On Sunday, NCP chief and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, while addressing a meeting of sugar millers in Satara, had urged mills to set up CCCs with oxygenated beds to help tackle the pandemic.

Daulat Desai, the district collector of Kolhapur, on Monday issued an order asking mills to set up such centres. “In case the mills do not have enough space, a suitable hall should be made available…,” the letter read.

Each sugar mill has been instructed to set up 100 beds, and this makeshift facility can be used for migrant cane harvesters later in the season. The district has 23 sugar mills and this arrangement will provide additional 2,300 beds for the district.

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However, sugar millers in the region have expressed strong reservations about the move. While acknowledging the need to tackle the spread of the infection, they said they lacked both the expertise as well as resources for setting up the facility.

“From clearing cane dues to paying salaries of staff, we have to depend on bank loans to bail us out. In such conditions, it is not possible to invest in an additional facility like this,” one of the millers told The Indian Express

According to the millers, setting up such centres was also difficult because many mills didn’t have enough open space to house the facility.

Currently, most mills have undertaken maintenance works for the upcoming season, which is scheduled to start from October 15, and it will be difficult to maintain a separate centre for Covid-19 patients. Mills have expressed concern about how long they would be required to run the facility.

Some of the millers also pointed out that the order was issued without consulting them.

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