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PM Modi sets up 11 empowered groups as quick response teams to tackle coronavirus outbreak

Each group will be include a member from the PMO and cabinet secretariat to look into different aspects of managing the outbreak.

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New Delhi: Ramping up government efforts to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday constituted 11 empowered groups, to be headed by secretaries, for planning and ensuring quick implementation of decisions taken to check the spread of coronavirus, ThePrint has learnt.

Covid-19 cases have spiked in India over the last few days to cross the 1,000-mark Sunday.

According to two government sources, each of the 11 Covid-19 response groups will include a senior representative from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the cabinet secretariat. While eight of these groups will be headed by secretary level officers, two will be led by Niti Aayog members and one by the government think-tank’s CEO Amitabh Kant.

Set up under the Disaster Management Act, each of these groups has been assigned specific tasks.

For instance, one group will be in-charge of medical emergency management, another will deal with the availability of hospitals. Still other groups will look into isolation & quarantine facilities, ensuring the availability of essential medical equipment such as Personal Protective Equipment, masks, gloves and ventilators, and augmenting human resources and capacity building.

One group will specifically deal with public grievances and take suggestions from different stakeholders.

The groups will work in close tandem with state governments.

“All decisions to tackle Covid-19 will be taken by these empowered groups. The idea behind constituting the group is to ensure that decisions are taken expeditiously and there is absolute coordination between the Centre and the states and there are no glitches in implementation,” said one of the sources.

Also read: Why India’s wealthy happily donate to god and govt but loathe helping needy and poor

Overhaul in governance structure

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had formed another committee comprising 15 Union ministers who were assigned 15 districts each and tasked to ensure that there is no disruption in supply of essential commodities.

A second government source said the move could mean a temporary, but complete, overhaul in the governance structure.

“The eleven groups are autonomous empowered groups, which will make prompt executive decisions regarding the Covid-19 outbreak during the lockdown period,” the second source said.

The move ties into the Centre’s earlier decision to give charge of at least 15 districts to union ministers.

“The ministers will be reporting to these 11 groups through the lockdown period regarding the implementation of the Centre’s policies and decisions at the district level with regard to coronavirus,” the second source added.

This report has been updated to include fresh details about the teams, including a change in the number of groups constituted.

Also read: Restrict sales of chloroquine & other Covid-19 drugs: Chemists’ lobby tells members


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