Even as the country struggled hard to counter the evil of Coronavirus that created havoc on the planet in the past four months, a backward state such as Odisha did not lag behind to contribute its mite to bolster the fight against the deadly disease.
Led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, it has emerged as the first state in the country to enforce a lockdown over 40 percent of the State – the biggest of its kind in India’s history – from March 22, 2020, after the clarion call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Janata Curfew’ initiative.
And it has continued its efforts to defeat the disease to date. Odisha became the firsts state to start dedicated Government-run hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 virus run by professional hospitals and emerged as the first state to have dedicated COVID hospitals in all its districts.
Under the constant monitoring and guidance of Patnaik and his bureaucrats, it was first to start online registration of people who returned from outside the State, efficient screening and necessary restrictions at railway stations, airport & sea ports much before the first case was detected, to start community monitoring of people in home quarantine, the only state to give cash incentive of 15 thousand rupees for declaring travel history-making self-declaration a huge success and provide online passes to come out of home during the lockdown to avail essential commodities.
These steps were also replicated in some other states as the tentacles of the deadly virus spread across the country.
Odisha is perhaps the first state to start dedicated helpline and Whatsapp for people coming from outside state and the only state to have started a telemedicine helpline.
The most humane aspect of the State government was allotting special funds to feed community stray animals—again an initiative pioneered by the state—to bag the PETA award.
If the State Government undertook steps to keep them as far away as possible, it chose to initiate legal action against those violating quarantine guidelines, ordering immediate police action against rumor-mongering and fake news on social media.
Not allowing anyone to dent the communal harmony record of the State, it ordered stern steps to ensure action against hate-mongering attempts by miscreants against certain communities.
Odisha has earned the distinction of being the first state to provide cooked food to the underprivileged in all panchayats, become the first state to start a special helpline for guest workers stranded in the state, providing sufficient food, water, shelter, and other essential services to the guest workers in the state and appoint nodal officers to help workers stranded in other states.
In one of the most important aspects—distributing three month’s PDS supplies to beneficiaries in advance—the State has also emerged as a front runner. It is also the only state to involve Women SHGs directly in pandemic management.