‘Odisha govt’s ex-gratia for covid warriors eludes teachers’

Bhubaneswar: Though the Odisha government accorded state funeral to COVID-19 warriors who died in the line of duty and announced ex-gratia for the bereaved families, a teachers’ association has said no financial assistance was given to the kin of deceased teachers deployed to fight the deadly virus.

Almost 40 percent of COVID-19 warriors who died were school teachers.

They were posted at various COVID care centres and temporary medical camps (TMC) housed in local schools, Odisha Secondary School Teachers Association (OSSTA) secretary Prakash Mohanty said.

The state government had in April announced an ex- gratia of Rs 50 lakh for families of all frontline workers — doctors and other health care professionals — who die of the virus while deployed for COVID-19 duties.

Of the 27 frontline workers who succumbed to the viral infection while on duty, 11 were school teachers in Ganjam district, the state’s coronavirus hotspot.

“We have met senior government officers several times and demanded adequate compensation for the families of the teachers as given to health workers and others. But the government is yet to make any announcement in this regard,” Mohanty told PTI.

Most teachers who contracted the disease were in- charge of temporary medical centres where migrant workers were lodged, he said.

“Even now many teachers are engaged in COVID-19 management. They were not trained before deployment in COVID care facilities,” Mohanty said.

The teachers are also working in containment zones to collect data and swab samples.

Asked about the reason behind the high fatality rate among teachers, Mohanty said, “Health workers have experience in handling a medical crisis, but not teachers. The teachers should be given training on basic techniques to deal with a pandemic”.

“We have not received any financial assistance from the state government. We have not even got the salary of my husband for the last two months,” said Bharati Sethi, wife of K C Sethi, a teacher who died of COVID-19 while on duty in Ganjam district.

Mamata Sahu, the wife of another teacher who died during the course of work said, “The government should provide a job to a family member as my husband was the sole breadwinner.”

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had asked the authorities to clear all dues of COVID warriors in time.

“However, nobody pays attention to the affected teachers” families,” Mohanty alleged.

To fight against the novel coronavirus, over 2 lakh corona warriors have been engaged across the state till date, sources said.

Not only health workers but also teachers, police, accredited social health activists (ASHA), Anganwadi workers, women self-help groups (WSHG), panchayati raj institution (PRI) personnel and others have been deployed to work among those afflicted, they said.


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