Updated: Aug 14
Q: What is the current situation in your Gram Panchayat with respect to people abiding by the lockdown and physical distancing?
Sarpanch: Only 10 per cent of people consider distancing a burden, the rest 90 per cent understand the importance of it and are adhering to it. Awareness has increased with time; people are also scared seeing the increasing number of cases.
The impact of the lockdown is more visible now. Shops follow the decided time schedule of opening and closing, and there are circular demarcations in front of these shops to facilitate distancing when they are open.
I am monitoring the situation at the Panchayat level. We have made a control room of 16 people under the Panchayat Elementary Education Officer (PEEO). We are quarantining and monitoring people who are coming from outside. Door-to-door ration is also being provided to those who need it.
Q: Have you received any kind of training to handle COVID-19 associated tasks?
Sarpanch: No, but ideally people's representatives should get training because people don't do tasks the same way.
Q: Are vegetable markets and milk services now operational in your Gram Panchayat? How hard do you think the delivery of these basic services has been hit?
Sarpanch: We have stopped using the packaged milk in our Gram Panchayat. We only buy milk from the milkman, which has solved the problem of the sale of milk to a considerable extent.
The problem with vegetables is still there - sales are taking place in the vegetable market but in small quantities. Farmers are not getting the appropriate price for their produce. Tomatoes were sold at Rs. 6/kg earlier, and now the price has dropped to only Rs. 1.5/kg.
Q: Do you still notice any more instances of black marketing of essential materials post lockdown?
Sarpanch: No, black marketing is not happening anymore. We have pasted a list of items along with their prices in front of the shops. This informs the buyers.
Q: What are the facilities being provided to the farmers to take harvested crops to the market?
Sarpanch: In my village, we had a very good harvest of wheat but farmers don’t want to sell it at a low price. Hence, they are not taking it to the market and keeping it for themselves and the animals. We had good produce of Chilly and Tomato also, but since it cannot be stored, it had to sold at a low price.
Farmers also do not want to sell mustard because of not getting an adequate price for it. To solve this problem, we have put machines in the village that can take out the oil from raw mustard and then the oil can be used by people in their homes.
The interview was originally conducted with a Sarpanch in Jaipur, Rajasthan in Hindi on 12 May 2020, and has been translated.