CUTTACK: It’s feasting time during coronavirus. Literally. The state government’s cooked meal scheme during the lockdown meant for the destitute and needy is being lapped up by the affluent at the gram panchayat level. What’s more, they are also seen blatantly flouting social distancing norms.
After Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced that the about 100 to 200 poorest of the poor people identified in every gram panchayat would be served cooked food daily during the lockdown period, members of different Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), including sarpanchs and panchayat samiti members started implementing the order. But it was their diktat which would hold sway, not the stated objective of the scheme.
The PRI members are apparently indulging in implementation of the scheme for their own benefit and satisfying their workers and supporters. Most of GPs are arranging ‘community feast’ on the office premises, village schools and community centres where people in large numbers sit together and relish the feast in violation of the social distancing norm. Some sarpanchs and PS members also indulge in inviting people to attend the community feast arranged by them in their respective villages.
On Wednesday night, in Panaspur gram panchayat, the sarpanch invited 200 people, mostly party workers and supporters, for food distribution under the cooked scheme but 500 arrived. With more people scrambling for food, a clash ensued among the people leading to wastage.
Sources said that people attacked each other with vessels leading to a chaos. As roads to most of the villages have been blocked with barricades, police patrol vans can not enter the area and verify gathering at the feast point in the villages, said sources in police. "Ignoring the guidelines of CM, the PRI members are engaging cooks and their supporters in preparing and serving food to people," said an ex-sarpanch on condition of anonymity.
Lack of inspection and supervision by government officials is helping the PRI members to implement the free kitchen scheme in gross violation of the guidelines. "We are busy in enforcement and implementation of several important government guidelines in the wake of coronavirus. However, stringent action will be initiated against mismanagement of cooked food scheme," said senior officer of the district administration.
Covid rules violation
About 100 to 200 poorest of the poor people identified in every gram panchayat are to be served cooked food daily Most of GPs are arranging ‘community feast’ on the office premises, village schools and community centres where people in large numbers sit together and relish the food