In Conversation with Shrikant Balasaheb Suse, District Magistrate, Leh

By Stanzin Dasal Leh, Jun 17, 2021
Leh :

Q. Brief us about the different measures taken by the District administration, Leh to cope up with the COVID-19 pandemic in the district.

As a part of the preparatory measures, number of mechanisms such as testing and screening facilities at the entry and exit points of the region ( National highways and Airport) are already in place to prevent further contaminations. RTPCR Negative report is mandatory for all the tourist and travellers entering Ladakh. On Leh -Manali highway a team is deployed at Serchu and Upshi for screening and testing. The screening of the passengers coming from Leh- Srinagar highway is done in Khaltse. Similarly, the test is also being carried out at Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport.   The local passengers are being quarantined in centres/ hotels till they get their RTPCR reports. This has been an initiative to control the spread of COVID-19 among families and furthermore. The screening and testing of labours were most important and we have tried all our best to get them screened and quarantined. One of the strategies we adopted is to conduct maximum screening during the lockdown so that we can control the spread of infection. 
Apart from screening and testing, healthcare infrastructure is also being placed. As an advance preparatory measures for a possible third wave of the pandemic, the 1000 LPM capacity oxygen plant of SNM hospital is being upgraded to an additional 500 LPM. A 200 LPM capacity oxygen plant will be established in Khaltse and 100 LPM in Nyoma PHC and Nubra. We are also working on increasing the bed capacity in the hospital by additional 90 beds which include 10 beds in the paediatric ICU ward, 10 in the adult ICU ward and 70 oxygen facility beds. The hiring of medical staff especially doctors is under process.  
All the necessary precaution, such as testing of Govt. employees, CB-NAAT testing facility in rural areas to decentralize the testing measures, sensitizing people about COVID-19 Behaviour, training of ASHA health workers etc, teleconsultation facility, an online facility for accessing Negative RT-PCR reports are also being carried out. 

The vaccination drive is going on in full swing and once the local population is done, we will vaccinate the non-locals who are residing in the district. The COVID-19 restriction and guidelines have been reviewed from time to time as per the situation. The cooperation of everyone is very important to contain the virus.

Q. Brief us about the various developmental plan and initiatives for Leh district.

₹207.42 crore is approved for the District Plan of LAHDC, Leh under the Capex Budget of the year 2021-22. The plans under different department are being executed and 50 percent fund is also released. Focuses is made to complete the ongoing pending works and some of the major work to carry out are strengthening of medical sub-centres, PHC’s, school buildings, irrigation works, drinking water facility etc. This year a new scheme- Housing for Poor- has been proposed to construct a housing colony for the poor homeless families in Leh town. The land for which is already identified. Provision of drinking water facility under Jal Jeevan Mission is also being carried out in the district. The work pace of providing drinking water taps at home is being expedited.

Q. The sewerage system and drinking water pipeline work under Leh Beautification project is still incomplete. What causes the delay and when it is expected to get complete?

The work has been carried out under the old scheme before bifurcation. The sewerage pipeline has been laid but the establishment of the Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) was pending because of some legal issues which have been sought and are expected to get completed by this year. ₹13.78 crores project of Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) is of 3 MLD (3 million litres per day) capacity and based on SBR technology. The project was delayed because of tendering and other technical issues which are all take care of. 

Q.What are the various challenges faced and how is the administration overcoming them?

After bifurcation, the additional infrastructure needed in the new UT set-up was facilitated and supported by the District administration which was a whole new challenge. Secondly, Ladakh has a short working season and completing the work qualitatively within a specific time is challenging. There is no dearth of funds, but because of the pandemic, the developmental work suffered last year and this year also only a few months are left to carry out the work. The geographical and climatic condition of the region is a challenge to carry and complete the developmental work on time. I have noticed that we need capacity building training for all the officers for all the technical know-how to complete the work qualitatively on time and in an effective manner. The district officers are working efficiently despite all the challenge and in the coming days as soon the manpower increases, things will improve more.

Q. How administration is keeping watch on the growing rumours and fake news on various social media platforms?

Rumours and fake news in times of pandemic is a matter of concern and to curb this District Police, Leh is strictly monitoring and filing cases against the violators as per law. The matter is being strictly dealt with. I appeal to people not to believe in such rumours. The authentic and needed information is disseminated on our District administration websites and pages. 

Message to the readers

“We have not overcome with COVID-19 pandemic fully. I appeal to people to follow the COVID Appropriate Behaviour strictly and cooperate in containing the spread of the virus. Together we will win this fight.”