THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Taking into consideration the alarming increase in Covid cases, the government is all set to strengthen the local bodies to deal with the crisis. The government has decided to set up first-line treatment centres in each panchayat using the Plan fund. Going by the current trend, there could be more than 1,000 new cases everyday in no time, pointed out officials. In that case, there could be around 5,000 cases in each district by August. Strengthening healthcare facilities at the panchayat level is the important strategy. Therefore, first-line treatment centres would be set up in each panchayat.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the third instalment of the Plan fund for local self-government institutions will be sanctioned next week. The LSGs are free to use it for Covid prevention activities like quarantine, reverse quarantine, additional assistance to hospitals, setting up of first-line treatment centres and community kitchens, the chief minister said during the daily press briefing on Wednesday. Such spending doesn’t need the District Planning Committee’s prior sanction and can be regularised later.
In case of eligible projects, the money will be reimbursed from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund.
“The arrangements are to ensure that LSGs do not face financial difficulties in Covid prevention activities. All LSGs should go ahead with vigorous prevention measures,” he said. The government expects a scenario where more than 1,000 cases could come up everyday. “Panchayats can meet the expenditure from the Plan fund. The amount of money to be used depends on the facility which is going to be converted into a first-line centre. If it’s a school, then toilets will have to constructed. It will be a heavy expenditure for the government,” said a source.
The government will soon issue an order which would clarify that any expenditure on Covid prevention can be used from the Plan fund. The government has already increased the Plan fund by 40 per cent. If needed, it would be increased further.