In view of villagers being unable to work and consequent irregular incomes owing to the national lockdown, the gram panchayat of Sherpura village in Bharuch district, on Tuesday, decided to exempt villagers from paying house and water taxes for the next three months. At a distance of five kilometres from Bharuch town, the village is spread over three square kilometres and has a population of around 10,000 people.
The gram panchayat further issued strict orders pertaining to the lockdown. If any outsider enters the village without prior permission of the village sarpanch or talati, they will have to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000. The villagers have been advised by the gram panchayat to remain inside their homes and not roam unnecessarily. Those found doing so or sitting idle in groups will have to pay a penalty of Rs 1,000.
“We have taken such strict decisions for the betterment of the villagers. We also poured oil on the benches set up in different spots of the village so that nobody may sit there. If somebody is found spitting in public places, they will face a penalty of Rs 100. We are trying to prevent the infection and transmission of COVID-19,” Sherpura sarpanch Nadim Bhikhi (42) told The Indian Express. “We talked to the health department of Bharuch district panchayat and on Monday, a door-to-door health survey was carried out by a 12-member team. We have also disinfected our village with the help of a drainage compressor machine.” The gram panchayat currently has a balance of Rs 17.50 lakh, he added.
Four ration stores in the village remain open for three hours everyday, between 9 am and 12 pm. Around 20 banners have been put at different spots, including entry and exit points of the village. The banners display precautionary measures that the villagers may adopt to save themselves from contracting the viral infection.
However, if any villager does test positive for coronavirus — or suspected cases turn up in the village — the gram panchayat will bear all medical expenses. Furthermore, in the event of death of a villager due to the same, the panchayat will provide a compensation amount of Rs. 50,000 to their kin. Additionally, if a pregnant women gives birth to a male child during the lockdown period, the panchayat will provide Rs 2,500 to the family. Similarly, the family will receive Rs 5,000 if a girl child is born.
According to village sources, at least 100 families native to Sherpura have now settled abroad in countries such as Canada and South Africa. The major source of income of the villagers is farming, while some others do petty jobs in Bharuch town.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines