Bhubaneswar: After bestowing the power of district Collector to village heads, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Wednesday, administered oath to over 6,700 sarpanchs to work towards keeping their areas free from infection.
The village heads from all the 6,798 Gram Panchayats took the pledge administered by the CM through videoconferencing.
“I take pledge to sincerely work towards containing spread of novel coronavius in my panchayat for the public good. I will ensure keeping the people coming from other states in quarantine and look after their stay, food and treatment,” read the pledge.
They also promised to implement the guidelines of the state government to prevent spread of the highly infectious disease.
Interacting with some of the sarpanchs, Patnaik said he has full confidence in the efficiency of the elected peoples’ representatives and therefore empowered them with the Collector’s power.
“I am sure, if you sincerely follow the government’s guidelines, coronavirus cannot enter in villages and panchayats. Do good works. Me and my government are with you,” Patnaik told them.
The state government’s action appears to have come in anticipation of return of about 5 lakh workers stranded in different states during lockdown to their villages after the nationwide shutdown
Majority of the returnees will come from COVID-affected states and they will directly go to the villages, Panchyati Raj Secretary D K Singh told the sarpanchs.
He said the state government has already made quarantine arrangements for all the returnees at panchayat levels.
As according to the reports about 80 per cent of people testing positive in different parts of the country are asymptomatic for coronavirus, the government has made putting those coming back in isolation mandatory, Singh said, adding a dedicated portal will be launched April 24 for registration of these people.
Since most of the returnees belong to working class, the government has decided to give each of them `2,000 as incentive money on completion of 14-day quarantine period, Singh said, adding a nodal officer will be appointed for each gram panchayats.
This apart, the Block Development Officers (BDOs) were also told to set up a five-member monitoring team for every panchayat.
Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena, Chief Secretary A K Tripathy and Chief Minister’s private secretary V K Pandian also interacted with the sarpanchs and answered their queries.