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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: As the Covid pandemic sweeps across Odisha, the government's massive inoculation initiative for all above 18 years of age to arrest the rising Corona crisis in the State is a laudable effort. However, this ambitious step of the government seems to have hit a roadblock. The lack of internet accessibility and poor telecom infrastructure in several pockets of the State has now evolved as a major challenge for the government in achieving its target of universal vaccination. 

Ground zero reports from many places in cut off regions in the State are perfect examples of imperfect execution of this exercise by the government. First look at the example of Anakadeli village in Lamtaput block of Koraput. Here a majority of the adults especially youths could be seen on daily basis gathering in large numbers at places where they could find some internet network access for registering their names for vaccination.

The situation of Chandra Bhatra is also quite appalling in this perspective. A resident of Dandasera village in Umerkote block of Nabarangpur district, Bhatra sports a smartphone, an envy to many in his area, but unfortunately his proud asset has also become the cause of his biggest sadness because he is not able to register his name for vaccination which is said to be our last resort in defeating the virus pandemic.

So is the condition of Dongria Kondhs who rule the Niyamgiri hills in Kalyansinghpur area of Rayagada. 

Not only far-off regions people in many other rural areas are also suffering due to lack of exposure to cyber space. In Ganjam district's Gudipalli village under Sorada block, people are reeling under inadequate telecommunication density. A month ago, local healthworkers made door-to-door survey and advised residents to get vaccinated. People also followed the advisory and underwent vaccination at nearby healthcare centres. But after the government made the omline registration mandatory for inoculation of second doses, people have been rendered helpless only because the area suffers from poor mobile network performance.

The misery of Burda panchayat which has as many as 7 villages under its jurisdiction is even more pathetic because they too do not have proper mobile network access.

Amid this uncertainity, the Centre's recent directive to allow on-spot Covid vaccination registration has come as a silver lining. However, the facility will be only available at government vaccination centres.

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