(Repeating with edits)
Bhubaneswar, Apr 23 (PTI) The Odisha government has put
the village level authorites at the forefront to prevent
spread of coronavirus when an anticipated five lakh migrants
rush back home after lifting of the lockdown.
In order to make the local administration battle-ready,
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had on Wednesday delivered oath
to over 6000 village heads that they will ensure that the
returnees don't carry with them the disease as many of them
would be travelling from the COVID 19 hit states.
The state government has already bestowed on the power of
district collector to Sarpanchs (village headmen) so that
they can take tough decisions for better management of COVID-
19 situation in the areas under their jurisdiction.
"We have decided to put Panchayats at the forefront to
ensure that the highly infectious virus do not spread in rural
areas," Panchayati Raj department minister Pratap Jena told
reporters after the Group of Ministers meeting on coronavirus
situation here Thursday.
Around 6798 Sarpanchs who took oath the previous day,
promised they would implement the guidelines of the state
government on COVID-19.
The state government's concerns over return of the migrant
workers have been expressed by COVID-19 spokesperson Subroto
Since the large number of people will return to rural
areas after lockdown, the village heads (Sarpanchs) have a
major role to play in identifying and putting them in
quarantine at the gram panchayat levels, he said.
He said though the state has successfully contained
outbreak of the disease in Odisha in the three initial stages,
the return of about 5 lakh people to the state will be a big
Giving detail of the strategy, Panchayati Raj department
Secretary D K Singh said like mandatory registration of
foreign travellers, the state government has made this
compulsory for those returning from other states too after the
end of nationwide shutdown.
Besides, they would be subjected to 14 days isolation on
arrival to their villages, he said.
"No one will be allowed to enter Odisha without
registration and all returnees will undergo 14-day mandatory
quarantine", the panchayat raj secretary said.
Singh justified mandatory quarantine for the returnees
refering to reports that 80 per cent of the COVID-19 patients
in different parts of the country did not show any symptoms
of the infection.
He said the state government has already made
arrangements for placing them in quarantine at the panchayat
We have already created two lakh beds facilities for
quarantine of the returnees at panchayat levels. Another three
lakh beds will be put in place before May 3 (end of lockdown
as per the present order), Singh said, adding the returnees
will be received by the government from railway stations and
They cannot directly go to their house. The local level
officers will receive the returnees and take them to panchayat
quarantine centres where they will be provided stay, food and
treatment, Singh said.
Since most of the returnees belong to the working class,
the government has decided to give each of them Rs 2,000 as
incentive money on completion of 14-day quarantine period,
Singh said, adding a nodal officer will be appointed for each
This apart, the Block Development Officers (BDOs) are
also told to set up a 5-member monitoring team for every
panchayat, he added. PTI AAM