A noticeable spread of Covid-19 in the capital’s rural pockets has prompted the Delhi government to get a series of measures implemented through village-level task forces called ‘Nigrani Samitis’ to tackle the situation.
Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Khirwar recently ordered the creation of the task forces for “effective containment” of the virus in these areas to make people adopt Covid-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, avoiding overcrowding and ensuring hand hygiene.
Khirwar directed all district magistrates in the capital to create such a task force “in each village under their administrative control”. The issue of the virus spread in rural pockets had figured in a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in the last week of September.
A similar initiative was taken in Lucknow in August to monitor efforts to tackle Covid at the municipal ward levels. In rural parts of Lucknow, gram (village) nigrani samitis were formed.
According to guidelines issued by the DDMA, every task force will be made up of a patwari, a local civil defence warden and two members of the village committee concerned. “The task force shall make an assessment of the ground situation and submit its report regularly to the SDM/tehsildar concerned. Tehsildars/naib tehsildars shall also visit the villages at least once in a week to supervise the entire situation/progress,” says the order.
The teams will be expected to create awareness through posters, wall paintings and distribution of pamphlets. They will have to ensure regular spraying of disinfectants like sodium hypochlorite solution in public places like chaupals and akhadas.
Other directions include involving local cable channels and operators for targeted messaging, preferably involving local celebrities, and using social media platforms and WhatsApp groups to create awareness.
District administrations have also been asked to regulate entry of people in villages in consultation with the locals. “Challans may be issued by district authorities with the help of village committees. A flying squad may be formed comprising revenue officials and village residents which may issue challans to penalise the violators,” the guidelines add.
According to the 2019-20 economic survey report of Delhi, around 25% of the total area of the city, as per the 2011 census, was rural. The number of rural villages in Delhi reduced from 214 in 1981 to 112 in 2011, the report says.
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