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Rashmi Ranjan

Berhampur: At a time when coronavirus cases are going over the roof, the beneficiaries of Sorada block in Ganjam district have been reportedly asked to undergo COVID-19 test before availing ration under public distribution system (PDS) scheme.

According to sources, pachayat officer Prashant Kumar Behera has imposed the regulation for the beneficiaries of three villages under Gopalpur Sasana panchayat.

Meanwhile, the locals have opposed the move and alleged that they are being deprived of basic government entitlements in the name of COVID-19.

“I waited from 6 am to 12 pm, but they did not provide us rice. I was asked to go for a COVID-19 test before buying the ration,” alleged Tutu Pradhan, a local.

Defending the allegations, the panchayat officer said, the moves aim at spreading awareness among the public about the disease.

“It is not mandatory to go for the COVID-19 test. The ones, who want to be tested, can go through it. This move is to create awareness about the pandemic among the people,” Behera said.

Notably, Ganjam is worst-hit COVID-19 district in the State. As of 23 August, the district has reported 16,349 cases of which 1,723 are still active. While 14,444 have recovered from the disease, the virus has claimed 174 lives, the highest in the State.

If Sorada is taken into consideration, the block, alone, has reported 495 cases of which 26 are active cases. Four persons succumbed to the virus in the block, while 465 recuperated.

(Edited By Ramakanta Biswas)

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