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NIRDPR Guides & Give Tips to Gram Panchayats to Monitor Migrants & Prevent COVID-19 Spread

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) is launching awareness initiatives to help Gram Panchayats across India to monitor migrants returning from the cities. This initiative is aimed to help migrants & ensure that they are adequately screened for COVID-19 infection, and quarantined where necessary.

Another major objective of this initiative is to support Gram Panchayats & other Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) functionaries to take care of the citizens in their communities by providing IEC (Information, Education and Communication) material for awareness campaigns against COVID-19.

The material would create awareness about safety measures such as regular washing of hands, maintaining social distancing and other directives issued by the Union Health Ministry and respective State Health Departments. In addition, these initiatives are also geared towards ensuring that no person goes hungry, irrespective of their socio-economic background.

Emphasizing the need for local self-governments to rise up to the occasion, Dr. W.R. Reddy IAS, Director General, NIRDPR, said “As part of the constitutional mandate, the Panchayats are familiar with the preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP). The GPDP has been an important element of ‘low cost’ or ‘no cost’ development initiatives which have transformed many Panchayats into progressive developed islands across the country. The present crisis of Covid-19 can be tackled by such measures using sheer imagination and passionate leadership of the Gram Panchayats.”

“There could be number of households in each Panchayat area where the migrant families have come back from urban centers would lack any resources for sustenance for this long period, as their livelihoods may depend on daily earnings. We need to focus on them too,” added Dr. Reddy, while pointing out that a system has to be created, where all needy families will need to be provided with food or rations for their sustenance.

The following awareness modules/courses have been made available, free of cost, on NIRDPR’s newly-launched Learning Management Portal ‘Gram Swaraj’ (http://gramswaraj.nirdpr.in/) for the benefit of PRI representatives:

Course 1: Awareness on Corona Virus (COVID 19) – this course covers basic information about Corona Virus, its outbreak, symptoms, prevention, management and all advisory from Government of India
Course 2: Role of Gram Panchayats in Corona Virus Prevention and Management – key guidelines from some states, suggested measures from NIRDPR and few Sarpanch videos will be made available under this course.

Some of these measures suggested by NIRDPR include identifying 5 to 6 courageous and dedicated volunteers from among the rural youths, clubs, SHGs, NGOs, voluntary organizations to work in every ward under the leadership of the Ward member or any other person to be nominated by the Gram Panchayat in the absence of the Ward member for any reason.

The volunteers may be involved in the following activities:

To move at the Ward area, undertake publicity and campaign measures through public announcements (with standard messages on ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ that may be prepared by the Health Department for correctness and uniformity) and also through house-to-house visits, aiming to prevent the spread of COVID-19 epidemic.

Keep a record of all such people, who have recent travel history either abroad or from urban cities, sensitise them to maintain home quarantine with due precautions.

Keep track of them to report first symptoms of COVID-19 virus infection, if any, to health authorities to shift them to medical isolation and treatment.

Enable such quarantined people, to keep a record of all such people, with whom they had come in contact who might be at risk, if they develop infection symptoms and inform all such people for appropriate care.

To maintain an overall surveillance in the area to ensure that the citizens remain at home and do not come out, unless for essential services or emergency situations.

To guide the persons suffering from fever, cold and other symptoms of flu to attend Health Centres for check-up and to abide by medical advice.

Here are some of the ways NIRDPR suggests Gram Panchayats can ensure that nobody in village goes hungry during the lockdown:

  • Every Gram Panchayat may identify in every Ward the most indigent households having no stock of food and other essential requirements of living a healthy life and link such households with one or more SHGs to provide them with cooked food or rations for subsistence by voluntarily mobilising the essential rations, from the affordable households or arrange from PDS. For such households, the Panchayat may open a “Kitchen” to provide readymade food for such needy persons, with due care of preventing any congregation and without breaking the principle of social distancing.

  • With support from the BDO/Intermediate Panchayat concerned, every Gram Panchayat may ensure that the ration shops and other minimum public utilities remain open and functional with stock to cater to the minimum needs of the citizens in distress. Also inform the citizens about their entitlements as announced by the Central/State Governments on various fronts such as additional ration, direct benefit transfers etc.

  • Through respective the Ward members and teams of volunteers, every Gram Panchayat may provide a service to the needy such as old persons by arranging food grains from ration shops under National Food Security Act and delivering the food grains at the door step of the needy households in extreme emergency.

  • Every Gram Panchayat may deploy a team of tube well mechanics/pump operators to ensure regular water supply which is critical for regular hand washing and other needs.

    Every Intermediate Panchayat is to ensure GPs can equip the ERs, Ward members and volunteers with the required safety measures for working on such war footing.

  • If required, the Gram Panchayats may utilise their discretionary funds to meet the cost of such emergency arrangement. However, mobilising such resources on voluntary basis will go a long way to create cohesiveness and feeling of togetherness among the members of the panchayats.

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