Image: Northeast Now

Around 20 young volunteers who proved to be a major succour to the Arunachal Pradesh government in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the lockdown period, were on Tuesday felicitated by Legislative Assembly Speaker Pasang D Sona and deputy Speaker Tesam Pongte at the former’s office in Itanagar.

Though coming from different backgrounds, the volunteers were pivotal in helping the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly run its 24×7 COVID-19 control room for the last two months and help many stranded return to their homes safely.

Besides, managing to successfully solve more than 300 major cases they came across, the volunteers of the control room also lend their ears to hundreds of Arunachalees who were left distressed after being stranded in different states of the country following the nationwide lockdown.

As per the officials, the helpline number of the control room received thousands of calls during the past two months.

In one of such noteworthy gestures, the volunteers of the control room, in coordination with the state COVID-19 control room helped two differently-abled students return home safely from different locations of Meghalaya.

In a separate case, they went out of the way, collected money amongst themselves, and arranged food for a few helpless students who were left unattended in a paid quarantine facility.

Some of them also chatted with many hearing and speech impaired people on WhatsApp on a regular basis and boosted their morale.

Appreciating their selfless efforts, Speaker Sona said, “You have redefined the true meaning of a volunteer by selflessly working for the needy under tremendous pressure during the lockdown. I appreciate your services and the same shall not go unnoticed.”

“The services rendered by the volunteers are immense and noble,” deputy speaker Pongte said while expressing his deep gratitude.

The duo, however, asserted that the fight against the pandemic is not over yet and called upon the volunteers to spread awareness on SOPs and government guidelines.

Special secretary to Speaker P N Thongchi, who supervised the control room in coordination with assembly joint secretary Agaab Mossang and under secretary L Rongrang, said, he was overwhelmed by the response he received from the volunteers once the plan to set up a COVID-19 control room was announced.

“All of them were from different backgrounds; some are doctors, nurses and government officials while others are from the hospitality, public relations, entertainment and IT industries. They worked all day and night, simply on humanitarian grounds and for which we shall be ever grateful,” Thongchi said.

Thongchi said following ‘Unlock 1.0’ most of the volunteers would now return to their work, however, the control room would still continue to function with those who are still willing to stay back and contribute.

The control room was set up at the Assembly secretariat following suggestions by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to help the migrant labourers and stranded people in the month of April.

Birla, who was also all praises for the control room team took to Twitter to appreciate their service.

“I congratulate respected speaker Sh. @pasang_sona, respected Deputy Speaker Sh. @TesamPongte, APLA and the youth volunteers for their commendable efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Accept my good wishes for all the future endeavours,” the Lok Sabha Speaker said.


Damien Lepcha is Northeast Now Correspondent in Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at: