Poonam Singh

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed rural India, gram panchayats for playing an active role in the fight against COVID-19 and in supplying food grains to the poor and migrant workers.

He launched e-GramSwaraj portal and Swamitva Scheme on the occasion of the Panchayati Raj Day. He also interacted with village-heads from across the country through video conferencing. However, it was the coronavirus topic that dominated the discourse.

Hailing the role of villagers in maintaining social distancing, he claimed Indians have faced difficulties but remained resolute in observing the lockdown.

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"You have used a simple term -- do gaz ki doori (a distance of two yards)," he said.

Prime Minister Modi said that it's the villages that have "shown the way" to the urban centres, who he claimed are finding it tough to deal with the lockdown.

"We have to become self-sufficient. Without that, we can't face a threat like that of coronavirus. From villages to the country -- we should be self sufficient. We should not be looking out for help. That is the big take away from this coronavirus outbreak," said Prime Minister Modi while addressing Sarpanches from across the country.

He added that in normal situations, meetings would take place in person. But changed circumstances forced the government to take help of video conferences in order to maintain social distancing.

Stressing on the importance of the newly launched e-GramSwaraj portal, Modi said all information, including the funds allowed and progress of work can be accessed through it in the coming days.

"This will bring transparency in the system," said Modi.

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Highlighting the importance of Swamitva Scheme, he said all properties of all the villages will be mapped through the use of drones that will bring an end to property disputes in villages. He claimed this will also help in availing bank loans.