Activists wrote to the Chief Minister of Odisha to intervene immediately
The Chief Minister
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.
- Lingaraj Azad (Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti)
- Prafulla Samantara, Social activist and environmentalist
- Lingaraj Pradhan, (Paschim Odisha Krusak Samanvaya Samiti)
- Biswapriya Kanungo, Advocate and human rights activist
- Smt. Krishna Mohanty, Noted Gandhian Activist
- Satya Mahar, (Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti)
- Gupteswar Panigrahi, Advocate
- Sudhir Pattnaik, Journalist
- Chakradhar Pradhan, Editor (Janabadi)
- Bhisma Pangi, Activist
- Dr Randall Sequeira
- Asutosh Parida, Poet and scientist
- Lenin Kumar, Poet and editor (Nisan)
- Satyabadi Naik, Activist
- Bijaya Upadhyaya (Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangha)
- Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty (Odisha Gabeshana Chakra)
- Prof. Bidyut Mohanty (Odisha Gabeshana Chakra)
- Bhalachandra Sadangi (National General Secretary, AIKMS)
- Prof Bijaya Bohidar (Odisha Gabeshana Chakra)
- Prof Golakh Bihari Nath, Activist (Ganatantrika Adhikar Surakhya Samiti)
- Suresh Panigrahy, State Secretary (AIKS Odisha)
- Debaranjan Sarangi, Film maker and activist (Ganatantrika Adhikar Surakhya Samiti)
- Narendra Mohanty (Campaign Against Fabricated Cases)
- Srikanta Mohanty (Chasi Mulia Sangh, Odisha)
- Kavitha Kuruganti, Social activist
- Rabi Pradhan, Journalist
- Gargy Satpathy, Journalist
- Manoj Mohanty, Writer
- Srimanta Mohanty, Writer and activist
- Akhil Nayak, Poet
- Bharat Majhi, Poet
- Hemant Dalpati, Poet
- Kumar Hassan, Poet
- Nigamananda Sarangi, Writer
- Jayanti Biswal Behuria, Poet
- Samir Ranjan, Writer
- Manua Dash, Poet
- Rumita Kundu, Activist
- Sharanya Nayak, Cultural activist
- Rajaraman Sundaresan, Student of Adivasi movements
- Sujata Sahani, Poet
- Durga Prasad Panda, Poet
- Kedar Mishra, Poet and journalist
- Biraja Bala, Poet
- Rohini, Poet
- Ramakrishna Sahu, Poet
- Bhima Prusty, Writer
- Surya Sankar, Film maker and activist
- Saroj Mohanty, Poet and editor (Anwesha)
- Chandan Nag, Poet
- Subrat Barik, Poet
- Srideb, Poet
- Prof. Jyoti Nanda, Writer
- Satyananda Bhoi, Poet
- Aravinda Satyavada, Researcher
- Philip Kumar, Consultant
- Aditya Batra, Researcher
- Joy Dasgupta, Journalist
- Radhika N, Web editor
- Swati Mishra, Activist
- Prof. Madhumita Ray
- Soma Parthasarathy, Activist (Makaam)
- Sanghamitra Dubey, Activist (Makaam)
- Sujatha Gothoskar, Activist
- Mukta Shrivastava, Activist
- Johanna Lokhande, Researcher (National centre for advocacy studies)
- Roma Mallik, Activist
- Hasina Khan, Activist (Bebaak collective)
- S Ashalata, Activist (Makaam)
- Manik Mishra, Activist
- Prof Swadhin Pattnayak
- Upendra Bhai, (Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti)
- Sankar Sahu, AIKKS
- Prasant Paikray, Activist
- Pratap Chinnara, Activist
- Soumya Ranjan Nath, Student Activist
- Er. Pritiranjan Nayak, Activist.