Thanks to a network of village and ward volunteers it had put in place on Independence Day this year, the Andhra Pradesh government has been able to smoothly execute its coronavirus containment measures and deliver social welfare schemes.
On Wednesday morning, around 3 lakh ward and village volunteers descended into action and went door-to-door across Andhra Pradesh to deliver the monthly pensions to 59 lakh retired employees.
So effective was the delivery system that by 8.30 a.m., the volunteers had covered 53 per cent of pensioners, translating to 31 lakh disbursements out of 59 lakh pensioners. By noon, the volunteers had distributed 84.19 per cent of pensions.
The volunteers are taking adequate precautions to guard against COVID-19 transmission. This time the pensions are being disbursed on the basis of photo identification cards instead of fingerprint identification.
The ward and village volunteer system that was unveiled on August 15 by chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy, is envisaged to help monitor and ensure delivery of government welfare schemes to beneficiaries in the state. Each volunteer is supposed to access 50 households in the vicinity.
Reddy had earlier credited the volunteers with successful monitoring of the quarantined people in the state.
The volunteers are mostly in the age group of 18-35 years old, and resident of the locality. Each volunteer receives monthly honorarium of Rs 5000.
At the time of the launch of the ward and village volunteer plan, some of the opposition parties in the state had criticized it on the ground that the ruling party members would benefit from it.
Ever since the COVID-19 crisis broke out, the AP government has been utilizing the volunteers to monitor the foreign returnees in the state, deliver essentials to people at doorsteps, and deliver welfare doles.