Saturday, July 4

Mirik youths launch Covid checkpoint, curb prejudice

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It takes will and initiative to cope with the new normal. Youths in Mirik, around 60km from Darjeeling, are doing just that. They have put up camps to check every individual and vehicle entering or leaving town. Each passenger is scanned for possible symptoms of Covid-19 and every vehicle sanitised.
The idea struck well-informed residents when people working in other states started returning home. “There were cases of workers not being allowed to enter their native villages. Many were not aware of the quarantine process, which could keep villagers safe while accommodating migrant workers,” recalled Arbin Angla Subba, a hotelier. This, he added, prompted them to start counselling for locals.

“For an unaware villager, Covid-19 is like a taboo and they resist anyone who they think to be a potential carrier of the novel coronavirus. We realised it is time to make them understand the new normal,” said Arbin who is also president of Krishnanagar Club Mirik, which took the initiative to start a camp.

Their fears were not unwarranted, feels Aalmist Subba, a businessman in Darjeeling. Once people started returning home post-lockdown, many vehicles went unchecked. “The best way was to place a filter and check inward movement. Nearly 20 youths came together, pooled money and bought equipment and sanitisers. They volunteered to man the camp, and began sanitising each vehicle and passenger. When we started the camp, people thought it was the initiative of some vigilante group. But, as days passed, they realised its utiliy,” said Aalmist of The Mirikan Initiative.

At times, there were around 100-150 vehicles to scan a day and the team was finding it difficult to cover each. “We felt the camp should run 24/7. In addition, we began sanitising paid quarantine centres for free,” said Arbin.

Recently, another camp has started off Mirik that keeps a tab on everyone who has come home and been advised quarantine. “In such unprecedented situations, the administration can never do enough. The combined efforts of people serve the purpose,” he added.

Source:Times of India

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