Bhubaneswar, May 29 (Local Wire): Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday completed his first year of his fifth term as the CM of Odisha.
During his one year of governance, his focus on strengthening the third tier of governance through sarpanchs besides bolstering the ground level frontline workers like SHG groups was largely felt.
Not only the importance given to decentralised governance bolstered the local governance but it also helped the state during emergency situations to tackle the crisis in a better way.
The support of a large base of Self Help Groups (SHGs), sarpanchs and other local institutions has helped the state in natural disasters and also in global health disasters like COVID 19.
According to state government officials the SHG workers of Odisha were specially trained under the Swayam Siddha scheme to empower them to tackle natural disasters and become the first line of defence at such critical situations.
Close to 10,000 women SHG members have already been trained under the scheme while the government plans to train 2 lakh more women groups by the end of this year.
Ganjam is home to several such SHG workers who started producing masks in good numbers. Ganjam Collector Vijay Amrut Kulange said several of the enthusiastic SHG members expressed their willingness to extend their helping hand and soon they started the manufacturing.
The same SHG workers groups who are given prime importance under the Naveen Patnaik government also jumped onto the bandwagon to manufacture lakhs of masks from locally available materials when the Coronavirus threat loomed large in the state.
Not only the SHG workers, special emphasis was also given to the sarpanchs who during Coronavirus pandemic became the key persons to coordinate all the matters of quarantine centres to ensure the villagers are safe from the disease.
These sarpanchs are given training by the Panchayati Raj department every year and an integral part of their training is disaster management.
They are trained in first aid, rescue and evacuation and psycho-social counselling too.
The State Disaster Management Authority also is training them each year on disaster management.
“It was because of their preparedness and timely action that despite cyclone Amphan hitting the state during lockdown curbs, lakhs were evacuated with the active support of the sarpanchs and SHG members.
We were able to evacuate more than 2 lakh people timely and we reported zero causality. It was because of the vision of CM Naveen Patnaik who batted for a zero-fatality plan,’ Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Jena said.
A number of them were recently empowered with powers equal to Collectors to make decisions for their area, manage quarantine centres, declare zones for COVID 19 based on the local situation.
They had also been given the power to decide to impose curfew in their close proximity due to COVID 19 threat.
The powers, confidence and clear roles given to the decentralised institutions and make them a part of policies have now given tremendous positive results to the state. These could be a prime reason for the lower infection rate, fatality rates of COVID cases in the state despite the state testing more per million of its population.
With the management of natural disaster and COVID 19 through decentralised-governance, the septuagenarian BJD chief has now set an “Odisha Model” of governance which had already received accolades for highly reducing the fatalities during cyclones by international bodies associated with the United Nations.