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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: At a time when doctors, nurses and paramedics have donned the wardrobes to fight with the novel coronavirus infection in Odisha, State's 70-lakh strong women Self Help Group (SHG) members turned foot soldiers at the panchayat level to keep the lethal virus at bay.

For their yeoman role during the testing times, the State government today expressed its deep sense of gratitude to the women SHGs members, especially for their timely role in spreading awareness against  the Covid-19 in just 3-days.

"SHG members were assigned the task of creating awareness on COVID-19 at the community level in early March. And they took only three days to circulate pamphlets detailing how to combat Coronavirus at the panchayat level," claimed Mission Shakti Director S Kartikeyan.

"They also played a stellar role in ensuring success of chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s pledge ‘Stay At Home, Stay Safe’ across the state," she said

When demand for masks soared up in State, SHG members pitched in to make a whopping 12 lakh masks in record time. They sold their products to government institutions, private bodies, hospitals etc at a very reasonable rate. There are also instances when SHGs distributed masks free of cost, she added.

Moreover, as the supply of essential commodities feel the pinch at panchayat level during lockdown period, SHG members were at the forefront and carried the task of supplying groceries and vegetables to the villagers. Significantly, in this regard, as many as 600 ration shops were set up by the SHGs.

Not only villages, SHGs were at the forefront in providing daily rations in urban centres like Berhampur, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Koraput.

Above all, the SHG members have provided 25 lakhs meals to the destitute in the State till date, Karthikeyan claimed and further added that several SHGs have voluntarily contributed to the Chief Minister’s Relief fund for fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic.

However, the State government today appealed to the women SHG members to don the role of 'home-based cops' and ensure no lockdown violation by their or neighbourhood family members.

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