Even amid the difficult times that the surge in COVID-19 cases have posed for the country, some districts and villages across India are managing to stay safe, owing to campaigns and initiatives that a few officers have been implementing.
One such officer is IPS Sachin Sharma, Superintendent of Police from the 2014 batch, currently posted at Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh. Through his campaign, Mera Gaanv, Meri Zimmedari (my village, my responsibility), he and his team have ensured that the number of COVID-19 cases in the districts he is responsible for remains low and manageable.
According to the 2011 census, Chattarpur has 1,210 villages and a population of more than 17.62 lakh. It reported its first COVID-19 case on 20 May 2020, almost two months after the outbreak in Madhya Pradesh. Under IPS Sharma’s campaign, 800 plus villages, which make for over 70 per cent of the total villages in the district, have joined the campaign and are benefitting from it.
What’s working for Chhatarpur?
Speaking to The Better India, IPS Sharma says, “We identified 15-20 volunteers from each village to begin with. We are encouraging those between the age groups of 18 to 30 to be a part of the team. These volunteers are involved in round-the-clock patrolling, and convince people to stay within the village and not step out for any reason.”
He says the residents also remain vigilant about those coming into their villages. Everyone entering the village from other places is put in mandatory isolation, which lasts between 8 to 14 days, depending on the symptoms they exhibit. “The villagers have taken it upon themselves to manage these isolations. While some people are isolated in government buildings, others are in vacant plots within the village,” he adds.
The last update, as on 4 May 2021, shows that the district has 51 COVID-19 cases in the 1000 plus villages in Chhatarpur that fall under this campaign. “There have also been cases of people with mild symptoms, who have been able to work on recovery at home,” says IPS Sharma.
Aiding and helping senior citizens
To ensure that people can remain indoors, IPS Sharma has also launched Sankalp, a campaign that helps senior citizens in these villages procure their daily vegetables, groceries, milk, medicines, and more. “We understand that senior citizens are most susceptible to the virus. Many live by themselves, given that their children are either doing jobs in other cities or are out to study. We have identified close to 3,000 such people and are providing them with all the help they require,” he says. These services also include setting up tele-medicine appointments, helping them with basic services such as getting their masalas made from the local shop, and recharging their mobile phones and television set-top boxes.
Rajashri Kaurav, station in-charge at Orchha, says, “Our numbers are freely available and anyone who needs any assistance now calls us directly. We have been receiving a good number of calls each day, which has helped keep the COVID-19 cases under a close watch.”
Meanwhile, Madhav Prasad Mishra (37), the Sarpanch of Khonp district, says that the manner in which the processes have been put in place has helped tremendously. “These campaigns have not just kept the case numbers low, but have also ensured that the morale of the people remains high.”
“Through various lockdowns and initiatives taken by the police, we’ve never had to face too many issues in managing cases,” he says.
What seems to be working for these villages is self-vigilance. With the help of the local authorities, villagers in Chhatarpur have been able to set in motion processes that work for them. There is a lot that smaller communities such as apartment complexes and RWAs can learn from such initiatives, to ensure they keep the Covid numbers low while continuing to go about their daily chores.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)