From decentralized pandemic management to ramping its health care system and enforcing strict COVID-19 protocols, Odisha is leading many other Indian states in tackling the second wave of coronavirus. It is even supplying medical oxygen to the states at a time when there is a nation-wide crisis. In the last week of April, 1,268 metric tonnes (MT) of liquid medical oxygen was transported via 67 geo-tagged tankers/containers through a dedicated corridor. This is all after Odisha lagging behind 21 major states in the key health indicators, as per recent report by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the World Bank and NITI Aayog. So what makes Odisha’s pandemic response more effective than other Indian states? Here’s our analysis.

Preparedness

Odisha is prone to natural calamities due to its long coastline adjoining the Bay of Bengal. Frequent flooding and cyclones have time and again tested the state’s preparedness, relief operations, grassroot level management and manpower. All these expertise have come handy in dealing with the pandemic. Last year when the pandemic put human race at halt, Odisha was one of the first states to ensure a dedicated COVID-19 hospital in each district. At present, Odisha has 50 COVID-dedicated hospitals, according to chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra. In fact, the state is also bearing the complete medical expense of the coronavirus patients.


Strict Guidelines

First rule came into effect on April 4 when Odisha imposed night curfew in 10 districts that share borders with Chhattisgarh. On April 19, the inter-state bus movement was suspended and later Class X and XII examinations were also postponed. Odisha made RT-PCR negative report (not before 72 hours) mandatory for visitors to the state from April 12. The order read “even though the situation in Odisha is not alarming”, returnees need to have a report irrespective of their mode of transportation. By April end, a fine of Rs 25 crore had been collected from the violators of COVID-19 norms, states a report of India Today. Penalty is being levied as per financial condition of the defaulter. Currently the state is under a 15 day lockdown w.e.f. 5th May 2021.

Oxygen Supply

Odisha is stepping up to supply medical oxygen to other states at a time when there is a nation-wide shortage. 516 tankers carrying 9466 MT of medical oxygen have been dispatched under the supervision of Odisha police so far from Odisha from Rourkela, Jajpur, Dhenkanal and Angul to 11 states in India.

Decentralised Administration

Odisha government knows the importance of involving vast network for grassroot level workers like panchayats and self-help groups in managing disaster. Bringing the expertise to use, sarpanches and other Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members have been given the task to create awareness in their areas. After the triple-mutant virus was detected in neighboring West Bengal, the state not only ensured border tracking but also made a 14-day institutional quarantine mandatory for those without a COVID-19 negative report. Panchayat members have also been mobilized and asked to report to concerned local authorities in case they find a violator.

Vaccine Initiatives

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote a letter to union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, requesting her to exempt GST on the vaccines bought by the state governments for the 18-44 age group. As per The Hindu, “Odisha is one of the best performing States as far as the vaccination programme is concerned”. Vaccination is free for the 18-44 age group. In addition to that on Monday, keeping in mind the shortage of Covid-19 vaccines across the country , the cabinet decided to float a global tender for procuring vaccines at the earliest.

Cancellation of political rallies

CM Patnaik was among the first leaders to cancel political gatherings. He suspended public rallies or campaign meetings for the byelection in Pipili Assembly. “We contest elections to serve people. If the campaign has the potential to endanger lives, I would earnestly appeal to political parties and the Election Commission of India to reconsider both the duration and method of campaigning,” said Patnaik.

Drive-in Vaccination Centres

In state capital Bhubaneswar, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) set up a drive-in vaccination centre for the 45+ age group at the Esplanade Mall. The one who has taken the first jab can take second dose at the drive-in vaccination center until May 15.

Feeding the strays
In a noble gesture, the starte govt. sanctioned an amount of Rs 60 lakh from the CM Relief Fund in order to enable local bodies to feed stray animals during the lockdown. It will cover five municipal corporations, 48 municipalities and 61 Notified Area Councils (NACs).