Congress leader Milind Deora on Thursday compared the ongoing catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic to the Chernobyl disaster, which took place 35 years ago. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, "Chernobyl — the world’s biggest nuclear disaster was attributed to the undemocratic nature of single-party states, eventually collapsing under the weight of their own lies." Slamming the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Deora added, "Similarly, India is paying the price for suppressing constructive criticism & dissent."
Deora's criticism comes as the death toll in the country has crossed the 2 lakh mark officially. However, there have been reports from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc. that the administration is fudging the numbers. On Thursday, according to the Union Health Ministry data, India saw a record single-day rise of 3,79,257 new coronavirus infections pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,83,76,524, while active cases crossed the 30-lakh mark. The death toll increased to 2,04,832 with a record 3,645 daily new fatalities, the data showed.
Meanwhile, there are reports of shortage of oxygen, essential drugs, hospital beds, etc. In frantic posts, people on social media are pleading for help. Besides, the chilling pictures and videos from crematoriums across the country will send shivers down the spine of even the cold-hearted. Amid this, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government has directed the officials to take action under the National Security Act and seize the property of individuals who spread "rumours" and propaganda on social media and try to "spoil the atmosphere".
Milind Deora's criticism of the Centre also comes on the day when the Wall Street Journal published a report titled "Facebook Blocks, Then Restores, Content Calling on Indian Prime Minister Modi to Resign". Facebook, however, called it "a mistake" and said that the bocking of #ResignModi wasn't at the behest of the government. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), meanwhile, said the report was "misleading on facts and mischievous in intent".
Chernobyl disaster explained:
For the uninitiated, on April 25 and 26, 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history took place in what is now northern Ukraine as a reactor at a nuclear power plant exploded and burned. It is said to be the watershed moment in both the Cold War and the history of nuclear power.
According to National Geographic, Soviet scientists had in 1977 installed four high-power channel nuclear reactors at the power plant, which is located just south of what is now Ukraine’s border with Belarus. On April 25, 1986, routine maintenance was scheduled and workers planned to use the downtime to test whether the reactor could still be cooled if the plant lost power. Reportedly, during the test, workers violated safety protocols and power increased inside the plant. Even after several attempts to shut down the reactor entirely, another power surge caused a chain reaction of explosions inside. At last, the nuclear core was exposed, and radioactive material spewed into the atmosphere.
The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) first denied the accident even after the radiation reached Sweden. However, after Denmark, Finland and Norway also reported unusually high levels of radioactivity, Moscow was forced to officially announce the accident, reported the Washington Post. Reportedly, it took a week for a full account to come out.
Close to 30,000 people were evacuated from Pripyat and nearby places. At least 28 people initially died as a result of the accident, while more than 100 were injured. Reportedly, more than 6,000 children and adolescents developed thyroid cancer after being exposed to radiation. The area was declared as an exclusion zone, however, the government now allows tourists and scientists to enter nearby areas and even in the town of Pripyat for a limited period of time, reported the Financial Express.