registered themselves as volunteers to help people manage
their mental stress in the ongoing coronavirus crisis under an
initiative launched by the Assam State Disaster Management
The volunteers will also be engaged in an exercise of
contact-tracing of the COVID-19 cases in the state, officials
said on Tuesday.
Anticipating that the battle against the pandemic
will be a prolonged effort, the ASDMA has envisaged two
initiatives -- ''Pratirodhi Bondhu'', a scheme for mobilising
volunteers, and ''e-Help Programme''--to tide over the crisis.
M S Manivannan, chief executive officer of the ASDMA,
has already written to all the deputy commissioners of the
state and joined hands with the common service centres across
districts for implementing these two programmes.
"Needless to mention that stress has emerged as a new
challenge in the time of lockdown and prohibitory orders,
which can seriously affect mental health of the people.
"Moreover, fear of financial insecurity coupled with
non-availability of certain basic services related to day-to-
day life and livelihood may hurt people and this have brought
further psychological impact on individuals and families as a
whole," the letter said.
Under the ''Pratirodhi Bondhu'' programme, the
volunteers will be trained to support the frontline workforce
in non-medical activities as per guidelines of the National
Disaster Management Authority and the UNICEF for COVID-19
On the other hand, the same work will also be carried
out under the ''e-Help Programme'' through the existing network
"Both the initiatives are aimed at providing support
to the frontline workforce in certain non-medical activities
related to COVID-19 response and also to reach out to the
vulnerable section across Assam," the letter said.
It also mentioned that the network of CSCs can be used
to provide essential services like banking,information
dissemination, counselling and telemedicine, veterinary doctor
consultation, training and awareness creation.
When contacted to know details about the initiatives,
Manivannan told PTI: "We have already started the process of
inviting applications for volunteers. In few days, around
13,500 persons have registered on our website."
The ASDMA is also chalking out the guidelines and
modalities, after which these people will be trained and
deployed in all the districts, he added.
According to the concept note of the programme, each
volunteer will be engaged for a period, varying between 10
days and 60 days from April to September this year.
Asked whether the government is anticipating that the
COVID-19 crisis will continue for the next six months,
Manivannan said, "We do not know how long it will continue.
But we are preparing for the long haul."
For the COVID-19 scenario, the main activities of the
volunteers will be to give telephonic support to people,
spread awareness on social distancing, involve in the exercise
of contact-tracing and extend emotional support to elderly,
children and people with disabilities.
He said the ASDMA has already tied up with over 6,000
CSCs in the state to reach out to maximum number of people in
the battle against the deadly virus.
Commenting on the development, CSC chief executive
officer Dinesh Kumar Tyagi said, "Assam will become a model
for addressing issues arising out of the coronavirus crisis,
at panchayat level and to support citizens."
The ASDMA also plans to utilise the CSCs as stock and
distribution points for essential commodities such as
groceries and vegetables for home delivery in coordination
with its field officers. PTI TR