Local bodies shelve poll plans to fight COVID-19

They have taken the lead in setting up first-line centres, providing amenities to the quarantined

July 19, 2020 08:04 pm | Updated 08:04 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Hazarding their health and putting off preparations for the local body election that is just three months away, elected members of urban and rural local bodies are complementing the efforts of health-care personnel in augmenting containment activities, following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks.

The spike in cases has spurred the local bodies to action and they are now taking the lead in setting up first-line treatment centres, providing food and basic amenities to those in quarantine and monitoring their movements. Most of the elected representatives have deferred preparations for election, including verification of poll rolls, to focus on containment activities.

Since reservation of wards for various sections, including women, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, are fixed by rotation, the incumbents may not get a chance to contest from the same wards in the next election. However, they have dedicated themselves to virus containment efforts, without considering political gains.

Fund source

Sourcing funds for setting up first-line centres with adequate facilities according to a protocol set by the government is no easy task. But all local bodies have met with some success in this.

Local Self Government Department sources told The Hindu that the government would accord permission to local bodies to expend Plan funds to meet the current exigency, including setting up of first-line centres. This would be reimbursed to the local bodies from the government’s disaster management fund. Procedures for clearing funds, such as securing the clearance of the District Planning Committees, have been eased for unhindered fund flow.

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