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Covid positive cases rising in Dongaria and Bonda hills of Odisha

Activists wrote to the Chief Minister of Odisha to intervene immediately To, The Chief Minister Bhubaneswar, Odisha Subject: In the ma

Activists wrote to the Chief Minister of Odisha to intervene immediately

To,

The Chief Minister

Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Subject: In the matter of immediate intervention into the issue of spread of Covid among Dongrias in Niyamgiri and Bondas in Malkangiri

Hon’ble Mr Chief Minister,

It is with great concern we write to you about the recent surge of Covid +ve cases amongst the Dongria Kandha and Bonda communities in Odisha. These two tribal communities are very vulnerable to being affected by the spread of the Covid virus.

Home quarantine as a Covid protocol being suggested by the government in other places will not work within Adivasi communities because of different ideas about privacy and isolation in Adivasi cultures. Home quarantine measures within Adivasi areas is not the right way to contain the spread of the virus or in breaking the chain of pandemic.

The government should take special and adequate community measures to protect the life of Dongria and Bonda communities from becoming victims of Covid pandemic.

Thus, we would like to suggest the following steps to be taken in this regard:

(I) The government should run different quarantine centres exclusively for Adivasi people and have separate centres for suspected and confirmed Covid cases funded by the public exchequer near (within 2 kms) Dongria and Bonda settlements/villages.

(II) In order to create greater acceptability for testing by using saline swirl and gargle method of testing which has the same efficacy as naso/oropharyngeal swab testing.

(III) Testing must happen regularly preferably scheduled twice every week for the Dongria and Bonda people using the saline swirl and gargle method.

(IV) Door to door surveys must be done by a team of trained local volunteers from villages for regular monitoring of symptoms and reporting to quarantine centres for any suspected cases.

(V) All the Dongria and Bonda families must be provided with a special livelihood relief package as compensation for their agriculture and minor forest produce (MFP) which they cannot sell in the haats/local markets which are non-functional due to prolonged shutdown/lockdown.

(VI) All the residents of the entire area be distributed adequate 3 layered masks with PPE kits, necessary medicines and vitamins for and as safety precautions. Further, home remedy treatment measures as prescribed by the Ministry of AYUSH also be considered as part of the treatment protocol wherever needed.

(VII) All PHCs located in Adivasi areas be upgraded on a war footing and equipped with sufficient medical equipment, medicines, person power and necessary infrastructure.

(VIII) Government must ensure deliberation of powers to the Sarpanchs and Ward members for creating containment zones and monitoring the entry and exit of outsiders.

(IX) The government officials entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out Covid measures in these areas must undergo Covid testing and carry their Covid-ve reports along with them while operating in these areas.

Hope the Odisha Government will consider these proposals in the best of spirits and perspective. We urge the Government to immediately take urgent steps to protect the life of Dongria and Bonda people who are in more vulnerable situation to being adversely affected by contact from outsiders in their areas.

Thank you.

Yours

  1. Lingaraj Azad (Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti)
  2. Prafulla Samantara, Social activist and environmentalist
  3. Lingaraj Pradhan, (Paschim Odisha Krusak Samanvaya Samiti)
  4. Biswapriya Kanungo, Advocate and human rights activist
  5. Smt. Krishna Mohanty, Noted Gandhian Activist
  6. Satya Mahar, (Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti)
  7. Gupteswar Panigrahi, Advocate
  8. Sudhir Pattnaik, Journalist
  9. Chakradhar Pradhan, Editor (Janabadi)
  10. Bhisma Pangi, Activist
  11. Dr Randall Sequeira
  12. Asutosh Parida, Poet and scientist
  13. Lenin Kumar, Poet and editor (Nisan)
  14. Satyabadi Naik, Activist
  15. Bijaya Upadhyaya (Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangha)
  16. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty (Odisha Gabeshana Chakra)
  17. Prof. Bidyut Mohanty (Odisha Gabeshana Chakra)
  18. Bhalachandra Sadangi (National General Secretary, AIKMS)
  19. Prof Bijaya Bohidar (Odisha Gabeshana Chakra)
  20. Prof Golakh Bihari Nath, Activist (Ganatantrika Adhikar Surakhya Samiti)
  21. Suresh Panigrahy, State Secretary (AIKS Odisha)
  22. Debaranjan Sarangi, Film maker and activist (Ganatantrika Adhikar Surakhya Samiti)
  23. Narendra Mohanty (Campaign Against Fabricated Cases)
  24. Srikanta Mohanty (Chasi Mulia Sangh, Odisha)
  25. Kavitha Kuruganti, Social activist
  26. Rabi Pradhan, Journalist
  27. Gargy Satpathy, Journalist
  28. Manoj Mohanty, Writer
  29. Srimanta Mohanty, Writer and activist
  30. Akhil Nayak, Poet
  31. Bharat Majhi, Poet
  32. Hemant Dalpati, Poet
  33. Kumar Hassan, Poet
  34. Nigamananda Sarangi, Writer
  35. Jayanti Biswal Behuria, Poet
  36. Samir Ranjan, Writer
  37. Manua Dash, Poet
  38. Rumita Kundu, Activist
  39. Sharanya Nayak, Cultural activist
  40. Rajaraman Sundaresan, Student of Adivasi movements
  41. Sujata Sahani, Poet
  42. Durga Prasad Panda, Poet
  43. Kedar Mishra, Poet and journalist
  44. Biraja Bala, Poet
  45. Rohini, Poet
  46. Ramakrishna Sahu, Poet
  47. Bhima Prusty, Writer
  48. Surya Sankar, Film maker and activist
  49. Saroj Mohanty, Poet and editor (Anwesha)
  50. Chandan Nag, Poet
  51. Subrat Barik, Poet
  52. Srideb, Poet
  53. Prof. Jyoti Nanda, Writer
  54. Satyananda Bhoi, Poet
  55. Aravinda Satyavada, Researcher
  56. Philip Kumar, Consultant
  57. Aditya Batra, Researcher
  58. Joy Dasgupta, Journalist
  59. Radhika N, Web editor
  60. Swati Mishra, Activist
  61. Prof. Madhumita Ray
  62. Soma Parthasarathy, Activist (Makaam)
  63. Sanghamitra Dubey, Activist (Makaam)
  64. Sujatha Gothoskar, Activist
  65. Mukta Shrivastava, Activist
  66. Johanna Lokhande, Researcher (National centre for advocacy studies)
  67. Roma Mallik, Activist
  68. Hasina Khan, Activist (Bebaak collective)
  69. S Ashalata, Activist (Makaam)
  70. Manik Mishra, Activist
  71. Prof Swadhin Pattnayak
  72. Upendra Bhai, (Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti)
  73. Sankar Sahu, AIKKS
  74. Prasant Paikray, Activist
  75. Pratap Chinnara, Activist
  76. Soumya Ranjan Nath, Student Activist
  77. Er. Pritiranjan Nayak, Activist.