Kolkata, June 3: So touched was corporate honcho Paromita Sengupta by the Red Volunteers' work during the COVID-19 pandemic that she has decided to donate to the organisation. Paromita is not alone, either. Hundreds of people, the whos-who of the socio-cultural world including Sourav Ganguly has decided to stand with the volunteers, moved by their desire to work for people in their hour of need.
A plethora of social organisations – in the urge to help COVID-affected people in the state – have started backing Red Volunteers in the state so that those in need can be reached out to more effectively.
The alumni association of BE college has decided to medically insure about 159 frontline Red Volunteers spanning the major districts. Under the scheme each volunteer has been insured
for Rs two lakhs . The alumni association of the Scottish Church College in Kolkata has come forward too, forming a corpus of Rs eight lakh for helping people. Aside from from extending help worth Rs 25,000 to the volunteers it has also taken the call to stand in support taxi associations which have transformed their cabs into sort of low-cost ambulances to ferry COVID-19 patients. .
On Wednesday National Medical College alumni donated Rs 75,000 to the SFI for the volunteers' programme in West Bengal . The Scottish Church alumni association members also reached out to the 48 Red Volunteers' groups across the state. The AIDWA gifted an oxygen cylinder on Wednesday as well.
A large number of social organisations are pledging support to the Red Volunteers each day in and around Kolkata and in the districts too. Doctors too have continued with special online training sessions for the volunteers in different parts of the state. The different district committees of the CPI(M), including the one at South 24 Parganas, has decided to equip volunteers with medical insurance and supply them with adequate PPE kits, face masks, face shields , sanitisers, fog and other equipment needed to fight COVID-19 effectively.
Red volunteers santization work at Baharampur. Image Credit : Anirban
A group of Red Volunteers from New Town has also decided to head to Pathar Pratima to stand beside marooned villagers in the aftermath of Cyclone Yaas and help with medical supplies, among other things.
Despite the overwhelming support of common people, the state Health Department's apathy towards the Red Volunteers was in full view on Wednesday a vaccination programme for nearly 180 volunteers was cancelled despite an earlier go-ahead by the SSKM Hospital authorities. The volunteers have been filling a gap left by state authorities by helping in the entire gamut of activities – taking COVID-19 patients to hospitals to being part in the last rites of the deceased. So far several lakhs of people in the state have benefited due to the volunteers' movement in the state. There was a demand to vaccinate them under a special measure.
SFI-DYFI State Committee wrote to the CM on May 23, following which the SSKM authorities fixed a date – June 5 – to get the Red Volunteers vaccinated. However, when the volunteers reached the hospital they were told that the vaccine had not arrived that they will be unable to carry out the programme. According to highly-placed sources the situation came about due to high-level interference in Swasthya Bhawan.
DYFI's Kolkata head Kalatan Dasgupta remarked that while civil society came forward to help the volunteers, the state government is unable to think outside political machinations and come to the people's aid during a pandemic.