As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps through India, districts are being tapped by the government for timely detection and reporting of cases, and prevention. Our ‘Inside Districts’ series will feature interviews of district and Block-level officials, panchayat functionaries and frontline workers to understand their challenges and best practices.
The Accountability Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is currently operational in five Indian states. For part 12 of the series, our field staff spoke with a District Project Officer (DPO) Excise in Bihar.
The interview was originally conducted in Hindi on 9 April 2020, and has been translated.
About the DPO (Excise)
The role takes care of collection of various taxes and duties prescribed by the state government on relevant products. In Bihar, they are responsible for inspection, and conducting raids in accordance with the state’s prohibition law banning the sale and purchase of liquor.
Q: What are your COVID-19 related tasks?
DPO: I have to arrange ration for the deprived communities in the district. After Holi, all the officials had a meeting with the District Magistrate, where I was asked to do an inspection of all the hospitals in the district and see what all facilities are available.
Q: Are you encountering any challenges?
DPO: Arranging ration for everyone in the district has become difficult because we are not receiving enough stock from the Food Corporation of India. However, this problem will be solved in a couple of days because the honourable Chief Minister has instructed to ensure that there is no shortage of ration in the district.
It is also worrisome that the citizens are taking instructions lightly and are not following complete lockdown properly. Mock drills are being conducted among people for awareness generation, and a vehicle with a loudspeaker is also making rounds.
The focus is on how to stop Corona infections.