The recent announcement by the state government on quarantine rules for air passengers coming to Assam seems to have stirred a hornet’s nest. Many Industry bodies have expressed their serious concern on making one day isolation and a test for passengers compulsory even if they have a recent negative test report.
Over 70 experts from various Industry associations expressed their views in an online meet conducted by the North East India Trade Association (NEITA). Everyone appeared to be very dissatisfied with the new rule and wanted it to be rolled back immediately. They opined that the rule goes against the Unlock-5 directive from the Central Govt.
“While the lockdown may have been necessary, the way it was imposed and conducted was a knee-jerk reaction at best. Crucial time was lost. Revenue nose dived. Lives came to a stand still. People’s income dwindled. Jobs were lost. It means that the government listened to the wrong people and made hasty decisions. No one knew what needed to be done and what would be the results and still the whole nation was forced to stop work and stay indoors,” said Pranjal Hazarika, a member of Small Scale Industries Association of Assam (SSIAA).
While Assam witnesses an all weather inflow of tourists, it is the months of November to April that is considered to be the best period for tourism in the state because of the joyfulness around the onset of Bohag Bihu. The colourful transformation of natural beauties, flora and fauna in Assam becomes a special attraction for the tourists to the state. In such a crucial period for revenue generation, experts opine that the government must be practical.
“After the lockdown, we are now told that we have to live with COVID-19. It is not going away anytime soon. So, instead of making such archaic rules, I request the government to wake up and smell the coffee. Focus on what matters. Upgrade treatment facilities in our hospitals, procure life saving equipment like ventilators, treat our doctors and other health workers well and not leave them stranded at the very front of this pandemic. And above all, listen to us. Help us save the industry and our business,” concluded Pranjal Hazarika.
With so much concern emanating from the industry, it is high time for the government to pay heed to real issues and carve out a practical course of action to revive Assam’s tourism sector. What may be required right now is an unprecedented and coordinated effort from all sections of the society, including the government to the policy makers and the community.