By Saibal Gupta
Kolkata, Jun 20 (IANS): A small hillside village in West Bengal's Alipurduar district on the border with Bhutan, Adma often sees its population of around 200 people left out of state benefits because the only way to it is through a nearly 6-hour walk through difficult terrain of steep hills and dense forest. District Magistrate Surendra Kumar Meena was, however, determined that its residents not be left out of the vaccination drive.
On Saturday, a 15-member team of health and other officials, headed by Meena, walked around nearly 20 kilometres uphill through the dense forest and vaccinated around the 100 eligible populace in the village.
"It was a non-motorable road and we had to cross five hills to reach the village. However, I am happy that all the eligible people have been vaccinated and our purpose has been served," Meena told IANS over phone from Alipurduar.
The team started off much before daybreak and reached Raimatang, some 45 km from the district headquarters, by road. From there, the team trekked uphill 9 km for four hours to reach Adma, where people of the Dukpa community live. The team crossed five hills on their way carrying cold boxes of Covid vaccine.
The District Magistarte was accompanied by BDO Prasanta Kumar Barman of Kalchini block under which the village is located, along with state Health Department employees and security personnel as the trek was through the core area of Buxa Tiger Reserve.
"Vaccination in the district has been going on fine. However, considering the remote location and the socio-economic background of Adma village, it was impossible for the residents to come up for vaccination. So, I channelised the health workers and took up the challenge as no one should be left out from receiving the jab," Meena said.
Meena visited almost all the households in the village and informed them the motives behind organising the Covid vaccination programme in this village in a camp mode and encouraged them to come forward for vaccination. He appealed to the people not to harbour any misconceptions related to Covid-19 vaccine.
It was an uphill task but ultimately the entire eligible populace was convinced and vaccinated at the end of the day.
After some 100 villagers aged 45 years or above were vaccinated, the team again trekked back for another four hours to reach Raimatang and returned to the district headquarters at around 5.30 p.m. The DM also organised an awareness programme on Covid-19, distributing masks and sanitisers to the villagers.
"I want to thank all the officials who supported me in this cause. Without them, it would have been impossible for me to undertake such a challenging job. I am really happy that we could successfully vaccinate all the eligible people of the village," Meena said.
The local gram Panchayat members and the villagers expressed their happiness and gratitude to the District Magistrate for walking all the way to their remote village and organising this vaccination programme.