Concern after Maharashtra makes it tough for those not vaccinated

Faced with low vaccination levels, several districts in Maharashtra have resorted to forcing people to get vaccinated, from issuing orders to stop people from getting ration to threatening government employees that they will not be paid salaries if they don’t take the jabs. Several IAS officers, however, told ET that they were perturbed by these coercive orders.

Jalna collector Vijay Rathod issued an order in mid-November saying that government employees would receive their salaries only if they receive at least one dose of the vaccine. “We have issued an order that employees should have at least one dose for them to get salaries. Most of our employees have got at least one dose,” he said.

On November 9, Aurangabad administration ordered public distribution shops not to give ration to those who were not vaccinated with at least one dose and asking gas agencies and petrol pumps not to issue fuel to those who had not taken a single dose.

“All my orders are meant to help and save the people. Cases are rising in foreign countries and there is complacency among the people in the district after they saw cases going down,” Aurangabad collector Sunil Chavan told ET. “My orders are to be taken positively, as whenever a non-vaccinated person goes to a ration shop or a petrol pump he is asked about his vaccination certificate. This is a positive reminder for people to get vaccinated.”

He said following his orders there was an immediate increase in people queuing up for vaccination. “Till November 10, we had 18 lakh people vaccinated. In just 12 to 13 days since then, we have managed to vaccinate 3 lakh more people. There is no excuse for people not to get vaccinated. We have vaccination centres 24/7. There is no reason for people to be hesitant,” said Chavan.

Akola was one of the first districts in the state that came into the limelight in October this year after reports said district officials were issuing such orders for ration shops. However, Akola collector Nima Arora told ET that no such order was issued. Instead, she said, the district administration had issued a “persuasion letter” to all ration shops stating, “those who are completely vaccinated get first preference”.

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