SSDMA convenes meetings to reinforce COVID-19 preparedness

Gangtok, 01 Apr [IPR]: Taking note of the need to be prepared for COVID-19 in Sikkim, the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority today called a series of meetings with the Rural Development Department, Helping Hands (an NGO), Health Department officials, and Police in the presence of Relief Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department and in co-chairmanship of RC Bhutia, Secretary, Home Department (Protocol).

The key objectives of the meetings were to take stock of preparations on ground at Gram Panchayat Unit level for successful implementation of protocols given by the Centre with respect to migrant labourers and daily wagers, coordination with NGOs to strengthen awareness on COVID-19, strengthen our present health care system, and assure law and order during the lockdown.

Director, SSDMA, GC Khanal, briefed about the purpose of the meeting for involvement of NGO’s for the cause of defeating entry of COVID-19 in Sikkim.

Prabhakar Rai, Director of Panchayat Raj, updated the SSDMA officials that village level data of migrant workers from other states, Below Poverty Line (BPL) beneficiaries, and the others who do not possess any documents of the state from all four districts is presently being collated and will be ready by today (1st April).

The same will be forwarded to the SSDMA.

RDD with the help of the Gram Panchayats is presently developing a systematized way for distribution of relief to the following group of beneficiaries to ensure that no one is left behind.

Furthermore, working with the GPs, RDD is ensuring information on COVID-19 is disseminated to each family in the village through door to door campaign, whilst maintaining social distancing protocol.

He suggested that the broad guidelines and the dos and don’ts established by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) needs to be simplified and made relevant to the local context for clear and better internalization of the measures given.

The meeting with Helping Hands, the pan-Sikkim NGO led by Chairman T Lachungpa, discussed areas where NGOs could help co-ordinate state government’s work.

Taking note of the fact that COVID-19 presents a different case than previously experienced disasters, it was stated that the NGO’s role should focus on strengthening people’s awareness on the dos and don’ts guidelines provided by NDMA.

It was noted that NGOs could work closely with the District Collector for the distribution of relief materials. Furthermore, considering thepossibility of psychological distress due to the lockdown, the NGOs could also work towards providing counselling and valid government information to migrant labours who might have concerns about their stay in Sikkim during this period.