Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday replaced his ‘Team-11’, a group of officials tasked with managing the crises, with a new nine-member set of ministers and bureaucrats.
Opposition parties have been slamming Adityanath and ‘Team-11’ for their alleged failure to control the pandemic in the country's most populous state.
The CM was also accused of relying too much on bureaucrats, an allegation levelled also by an MLA from the ruling BJP itself.
"Chief Minister Adityanath's experiment to control the Covid pandemic with the help of the bureaucracy has failed," Bairia MLA Surendra Singh told reporters on Friday.
He said the system should centre around elected representatives and not the bureaucracy.
Unlike Team-11, the new group called ‘Team- 9’ also has two ministers. The nine members head their own committees or departments involved in fighting the pandemic.
"The CM has constituted a new Team-9 for effective management of Covid-19 and related work. This team will directly report to the CM and carry out important work in different fields,” a government spokesperson said.
It will take policy decisions and ensure their implementation, giving reports directly to the chief minister, he said.
The members include the state's Medical Education Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna, whose group will work on vaccinations, and the availability of hospital beds and human resources. Health Minister Hitesh Chandra Awasthi will head the group on testing, increasing health facilities and home isolation of patients.
Chief Secretary R K Tiwari's team will coordinate with the Centre.
Additional chief secretary (home) will focus on the availability of oxygen. The director general of police will work on the implementation of Covid-19 restrictions.
ACS (Revenue) will oversee management of migrants coming from other states. ACS (Rural Development and Panchayati Raj) is tasked with sanitisation, cleanliness and monitoring of vigilance committees.
Agricultural Production Commissioner, Industrial and Infrastructure Development Commissioner and ACS (Information) are other members of the new team.
At Friday's meeting, Yogi Adityanath directed that 20 oxygen concentrators should be made available at each community health centre.
He said the supply and demand of anti-viral drug Remdesivir should be monitored by the district magistrates, according to the official spokesperson.
he CM said there should be no online classes till May in schools, which are now closed.
On Friday, the state recorded 332 coronavirus deaths, its biggest single-day spike, while 34,626 new cases were reported.
While the CM has claimed in the past that there is no oxygen shortage in the state, reports indicate that in many places people are scrambling for oxygen cylinders or beds in hospitals.