The latest Omicron variant of COVID-19 has again pushed India towards lockdown, curfews, restrictions on public movement and crowding of places.
Given the extremely contagious nature of the variant, the country has already witnessed a concerning increase in new COVID cases. As per the latest report of TOI India has seen a 27% jump from yesterday, registering 2.47 lakh new COVID cases in today itself.
As stated by the Union Health Ministry data as of Thursday the active case number in India has increased to 11,17,531, with the Omicron tally being at 5,488 and the death toll coming to 4,85,035 with around 380 new deaths.
Several states have already introduced restrictions on public movement, having private offices and all to be closed and employees to work from home, holding weekend or night curfew and more in order to curb the increasing numbers.
In the midst of all this, Maharashtra’s Pune district has also started an interesting contest called the “Covid-Free Village” Contest.
What Is Pune’s “Covid-Free Village” Contest?
Maharashtra and Delhi have been some of the most hard hit states in the recent surge, with Pune also seeing the rise of cases.
According to reports on Tuesday, Pune registered 6,110 COVID-19 cases with a 21% rate of positive cases and the death toll in the district has risen to 19,271. This has taken the overall COVID case tally of the district to 12,01,439. The number of active cases currently is at 32,672 in Pune.
An official as per reports has revealed that Pune recorded 3,459 cases while Pimpri Chinchwad and other rural and cantonment regions saw 1,706 and 945 cases being reported.
With this being the state of the region Pune’s district administration has recently launched the “Covid-Free Village” Contest in order to incentivise people to follow government guidelines and help the region to curb the spread of COVID and Omicron.
The contest was started on 10th January 2022 and will last till at least the middle of March 2022 and around the end 3 of the best performing villages will be selected and based on their performance each will be given cash prizes.
As per the district administration’s guidelines for the contest, 3 best performing villages will be selected and judged on 22 parameters on how well they managed COVID in their areas.
Subsequently, the state government will then provide cash prizes of Rs. 50 lakh for 1st place, Rs. 25 Lakh for second and Rs. 15 lakh for the third place as development funds.
Ayush Prasad the Chief Executive Officer of Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) commented on this contest saying, “For keeping rural area of Pune district Covid free, we have announced a competition among all gram panchayats of Pune district to encourage them for better Covid management in the rural areas. This is basically done to provide the best service fr preventing outbreaks of COVID-19 in villages. The winner of the contest will be granted funds for the development of the respective gram panchayat.”
Prasad also stated that “Through this initiative, our focus is on all the gram panchayat for proper Covid management and to create awareness.”
He concluded that the police and health officials will be fully supporting this contest and is basically a way to help large groups of people from contracting COVID or the Omicron variant.
Prasad also explained how the contest would be carried out among the 1,387 gram panchayats in 13 tehsils of the Pune district. He stated that “The state government has issued a comprehensive guideline for this initiative. Each parameter of performance carries a mark. Gram panchayats will earn two marks/ points if they manage to sell milk and vegetables of COVID-infected family. Likewise, there are points for other aspects as well.”
ZP officials also explained that to be eligible for the prizes, gram panchayats are going to be setting up quarantine facilities, have ambulance teams and transportation to properly allow COVID patients to reach the appropriate facilities, establish a COVID helpline number for the villages and have assigned vaccination teams for each area.
Post this, the block development officer of each tehsil will evaluate their region based on how the gram panchayat is performing and then submit the top names to the Pune ZP. The ZP will then have officials verify the data and then submit to the divisional commissioner the 3 best gram panchayats as winners of the contest.
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