NHRC- The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Perturbed over the rising COVID-19 infection among the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) across the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued an advisory to the states for ensuring their timely testing, treatment and vaccination.

Taking suo-motu cognisance of media reports on detection of coronavirus cases in the vulnerable communities, NHRC’s Secretary General Bimbadhar Pradhan has asked the states, including Odisha, for implementation of its recommendations and submit an action taken report within four weeks.

The apex human rights panel has directed the states to conduct frequent RT-PCR testing drive at doorstep while ensuring prompt delivery of reports with priority to be given to the PVTGs.

The states have been asked to ensure vaccination of all the PVTGs within 60 days by sending mobile medical teams, deployment of dedicated team of doctors/paramedic staff, supply of COVID medical kits, awareness campaigns across residential vicinities in the local dialect and regular check on maintenance of proper hygiene and sanitation.

The states can use drones to render essential medical kit to avoid human contact and ensure that all expenses for treatment of COVID patients belonging to the PVTGs are borne by the State government besides introducing strict guidelines for entry and exit of outsiders in areas inhabited by the communities.

The NHRC has also instructed to ensure doorstep delivery of free dry rations among the PVTGs households. “Many of the vulnerable groups have already been struggling against extinction and if Covid infects them, they will not be able to survive, which will be a great loss for the humanity and diversity of the human race,” the Commission observed.

Besides, uninterrupted transfer of scholarships, monthly cash entitlement and pension distribution through direct benefit transfer equivalent to payments made under MGNREGS as an income guarantee assistance for loss of income during the pandemic need to be ensured, Pradhan stated.

The states have been directed to open a special round-the-clock helpline at district control room dedicated exclusively for addressing Covid related concerns of the PVTGs and submit monthly reports to the NHRC till the end of the pandemic. Odisha has 13 PVTGs across 14 districts and 230 tribals among them have tested positive for the virus so far.

Vulnerable Communities

  • 10.4 crore STs in country

  • 75 PVTGs with a population  less than 1 lakh marginalised 

  • Odisha has 13 such groups  in 14 districts 

  • 230 tribals have tested positive for virus so far

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