Updated: Jun 3, 2021
Q: What arrangements have been made to vaccinate people in the 45+ and 18+ years of age categories? What difficulties are you facing?
Panchayat Secretary: Around 90 per cent of the 45+ population is vaccinated in our Panchayat. We are going door-to-door to make people aware about the vaccines. We are trying to convince even those who have apprehensions or doubts about the vaccine.
Vaccinations were previously taking place without the need to register online, which was much easier. In rural areas, people are not very comfortable with online registration and, hence, there are challenges.
Q: Were there any critical COVID-19 patients in your village? Did they get the required treatment?
Panchayat Secretary: We have not had critical COVID-19 patients, but the Panchayat is completely prepared. We have made arrangements for oxygen and all the required medicines at the Panchayat level. The Panchayat has also formed a committee that consists of ASHA, Anganwadi worker, a local teacher, and Panchayat members. This committee goes to people's houses to raise awareness about COVID-19 preparations.
Q: Is the work under MGNREGS happening right now?
Panchayat Secretary: Work under MGNREGS is negligible right now because of the lockdown. Everyone is at home and is only involved in agriculture work.
Q: Is the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP)* being prepared?
Panchayat Secretary: The GPDP was made in February, but a separate sub-plan for COVID-19 was not created in the GPDP. That is why expenses for COVID-19 are being covered using personal funds, which will have to be added to the GPDP later.
Q: What is the role of Panchayat members in the pandemic?
Panchayat Secretary: We are making people aware about a potential third wave of COVID-19. We are informing them on how to take care of children, and what to give them to boost their immunity. With the help of the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM), we are also involved in making primary arrangements at the village level.
This interview was conducted with a Panchayat Secretary in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh in Hindi on 25 May 2021, and has been translated.
Source: Pandarinath B/EPS
*GPDP: GPDP is an annual, decentralised planning process at the Panchayat level. In 2015, the Fourteenth Finance Commission grants were devolved to Gram Panchayats that provided them with an opportunity to plan for their development themselves. Since then, local bodies are expected to prepare context-specific GPDPs that reflect the development issues, perceived needs, and priorities of the community, including that of the marginalised sections.