BERHAMPUR: Shocking as it may sound, a 10-year-old boy of Manitara village in Buguda block has been engaged to serve food to inmates of the local temporary medical centre (TMC).
Despite the TMC being a prohibited zone, the Class V student of Maa Saraswati Bidya Mandir in Manitara, goes to the quarantine centre every day to serve food to inmates who have returned from other states.
Wearing no protective gear apart from a mask, the boy goes to the TMC and helps in carrying utensils filled with cooked food. He even distributes food among the inmates.
Sources said since the TMC was opened, there has not been a single day when the boy has not participated in food distribution at the quarantine centre.
Though engaging a kid in quarantine centre duties is a blatant violation of COVID guidelines, the villagers including the local administration and the sarpanch are surprisingly nonchalant about serious health risk the boy is exposed to.
Further, engagement of a child in such activities is a violation of the Child Labour Act and appallingly, it has the sanction of the administration.
The issue has raised consternation among the aware citizens who have questioned how the child was allowed into the high-risk area.
When the administration has imposed section 144 in the TMCs, how a minor boy is allowed to enter, when there are high chances of contracting the deadly virus there, they asked.
The local administration and the Panchayati raj representatives in charge of the TMC management, however, see him as a corona warrior and encourage him to go about his job.
His father and naib sarpanch of Manitara KC Pradhan even said, he is an inspiration for others. Praising the boy, sarpanch Shantilata Nayak said he has inherited this attitude to help others from his father.
“The boy takes necessary preventive measures and is guided by elders,” he said.
10-yr-old boy serves food to TMC inmates
Local block development officer T Patra also had no objection to the kid being engaged in the TMC in violation of norms.
When asked how a minor was allowed in the TMC, where Section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed by the administration, Patra said the boy’s work will inspire others to serve the society during these testing times.
Contacted, Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange said he was unaware about the matter. “However, I will look into it,” he said.