The ‘Inside Districts’ series launched in April was a one-of-its-kind attempt to capture the experiences of district and Block-level officials, panchayat functionaries and frontline workers, on their challenges and best practices. As the fourth phase of a country-wide lockdown ends, we went back to some interviewees to understand how their situation has changed. Among them is a Panchayat Secretary in Satara, Maharashtra.
The Panchayat Secretary or Village Development Officer (VDO) is the appointed administrative functionary at the Gram Panchayat level.
The interview was originally conducted in Hindi on 14 May 2020, and has been translated.
Q: Migrants who have arrived back home, are they being home quarantined?
Panchayat Sachiv: People are still coming to our village but no one has tested COVID-19 positive as of now. The number of positive patients in the district has increased though.
The people who have come from other places are home quarantined. They are not meeting other people and are following all the instructions properly, which was not the case earlier.
Q: Has the work under NREGA started? For the last two months when there was no work, were the labourers provided with any money?
Panchayat Sachiv: Yes, the work has started now, but there are only some labourers. The government has started with some construction work such as irrigation, water conservation, digging wells and under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
No money has been given to the beneficiaries for the last two months in the absence of work.
Q: Maharashtra has seen a spurt in the number of COVID-19 positive people. Have you seen any instances of more testing in Satara (considering Satara still has fewer cases as compared to bigger cities)?
Panchayat Sachiv: Yes, the cases in Maharashtra have increased drastically. There is a new case every day. Earlier, there were only a few cases in Satara but now there are many. Simultaneously, the number of Coronavirus tests being conducted here has also increased.
Q: Do you have enough masks, gloves, sanitisers for frontline workers? Were you trained on COVID-19?
Panchayat Sachiv: Yes, we have had sufficient equipment, and we received a day’s training related to Coronavirus, its symptoms and what to do in case somebody is exhibiting symptoms.