Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is not only among the most powerful regional satraps of the country, he is also a leader who strongly believes in adopting a humane approach when dealing with crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic that affects the lives of people in multiple ways. As the Biju Janata Dal supremo tries to ramp up the Covid vaccination drive in the state, he is also taking care to ensure that no one goes hungry, not even animals. He has sanctioned an amount of Rs 67.52 lakh from his relief fund for feeding stray animals in the urban areas of the state during the extended lockdown.
While the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) will spend Rs 20,000 per day for the purpose, four other municipal corporations in the state can spend Rs 10,000 per day each. Besides, 48 municipalities can spend Rs 5,000 each and 61 NACs can spend Rs 2,000 thousand each per day towards the feeding of stray animals. The five-time Chief Minister has sanctioned funds for this purpose in the past as well.
With Patnaik monitoring the Covid situation and the impact of lockdown personally, he has been getting regular feedback from officials. This helps him frame long-term policies and also take instant decisions in matters that call for quick solutions. He decided to address the issue of stray animals the moment he came to know about their plight.
While Patnaik has been working overtime to strengthen the health infrastructure of the state and provide people the best possible treatment, he is equally keen to protect the livelihoods of the people, especially those coming from the underprivileged sections of society. Aware that a large number of Odisha migrant workers, who were employed in other states, have returned to their villages in the last one year, he is taking special care to ensure that both their health and livelihood needs are taken care of.
During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, he had come out with special projects to address the livelihood needs of this section of the population. The focus was on providing migrant labourers jobs suited to their skills in their own areas. Efforts in this direction still continue. Even before the pandemic struck, the government had announced schemes to check the migration of people from Odisha to other states in the search of jobs.
Since the migration of labour from the state has become an annual feature, especially in the rural belts of Ganjam and western Odisha districts such as Balangir, Kalahandi and Nuapada, the government has been trying hard to create job opportunities for this workforce at the local level. The effort is aimed at preventing not only migration of labour but also the exploitation of innocent villagers at the hands of their employers in other states.
Patnaik government remains determined to step up efforts in this direction. The focus will be on fighting the pandemic while protecting livelihoods and ensuring that no one, not even animals, goes without food.