Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: In a major development, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the Health Department authorities to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity in Odisha to 15,000 per day. The decision was taken at a review meeting held today to assess the current situation of COVID-19 in the State.

Patnaik spoke to officials of different departments through video conferencing and discussed about the arrangements made for migrants, maintenance of law and order & issues related to the functioning of industries.

During the discussion, the CM mentioned about hardships faced by Odia migrants including women and children such as shortage of food and drinking water during their homecoming. Moreover, as number of accident cases exploded,  the Chief Minister said that migrants from Surat will only be allowed to return to State in train.

“We are not allowing buses from Surat to Odisha but only trains,” he said during the meeting.

He directed the officials to focus on bringing back normalcy in the green zones apart from carrying out agricultural and industrial activities.

It was further decided that loan assistance for farmers and Self Help Groups (SHG) like Mission Shakti will be increased. SHGs will be provided extra financial assistance of Rs 2 per meal from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for distributing food to affected people during COVID-19 crisis.

Apart from that, Patnaik directed to ensure provision of agricultural equipments and seeds to farmers for the upcoming Kharif season.

Officials were asked to give special attention to districts like Ganjam, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Bolangir, Jajpur and Balasore where more number of migrants are expected to return from outside Odisha.

Meanwhile, Odisha government’s COVID-19 spokesperson Subroto Bagchi informed that stranded migrants intending to return to Odisha should provide journey details to their respective sarpanchs upfront.

On Monday, the Chief Minister too expressed disappointment and warned of strict action against the quarantine violators. The statement came after several reports surfaced about violation of quarantine norms by inmates at different quarantine centres across the State.