Justice Minister Constituency Dares Over Omicron Wave Fears – The New Indian Express

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By Express press service

CUTTACK: The district administration doesn’t seem to have learned the lesson of the devastating second wave of Covid-19. As panchayat elections approach, political parties are making every effort to attract huge crowds to meetings where norms are violated with impunity. And, the administration has remained a silent bystander.

Apart from the usual inauguration and cornerstone laying ceremonies, workers’ meetings and the “Mishrana Parba” where political activists are welcomed in new attire are regularly held throughout the district. Apart from that, local legislators organize programs where smart health cards under Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana and financial assistance to members of self-help groups are distributed.

Out of the nine District Assembly constituencies, Mahanga, represented by Justice Minister Pratap Jena, has witnessed such programs on a daily basis. In the past 10 days, 15 smart health card distribution programs have been held in the bloc.

Meetings where social distancing norms are swept away as beneficiaries jostle for smart health cards are often preceded by cultural broadcasts. While most attendees don’t wear masks, those who do don’t care to wear them properly.

Police personnel deployed to meeting venues remain oblivious to violations and do nothing to ensure social distancing. A BSKY beneficiary, who attended one such meeting in Mahanga, said he feared getting infected because he was rushed for hours. He said smart health cards can be issued to beneficiaries through gram panchayat officials at the gates of elders.

“We cannot understand the reason for holding review meetings of members of SHGs trained under the Shakti Mission and the National Rural Livelihood Mission. Any financial assistance can be provided through a credit link bank account,” a SHG member said on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, health experts said the public meetings could spell disaster for the district if the administration doesn’t act quickly. Collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani was unavailable for comment on the matter.

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