Maharashtra today announced a contest for villages with an aim to encourage steps to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the rural areas of the state.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently lauded efforts by some villages to stem the spread of the viral infection and announced the "My Village Corona Free" initiative.
The "Covid-free village" contest is part of the initiative announced by the chief minister, state Rural Development Minister Hasan Mushrif said in a statement.
Three village panchayats will be awarded for doing good work in COVID-19 management in each revenue division.
The first prize will be Rs 50 lakh, second Rs 25 lakh and third Rs 15 lakh, the minister said.
There are six revenue divisions in the state which means there will be 18 prizes in all. The total prize money is Rs 5.4 crore, he said.
The villages which win the contest will also get an additional amount equivalent to the prize money as encouragement, and it will be utilised for developmental works in those villages, the minister said.
The participating villages will be judged on 22 criteria, he said, adding that a committee will be set up to judge the villages.
Uddhav Thackeray in a virtual address on Sunday lauded Ruturaj Deshmukh (21), Maharashtra's youngest sarpanch, and his task force for ensuring their Ghatne village in Solapur district has no Covid cases.
On Tuesday, Maharashtra recorded 14,123 new COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally to 57,61,015, while 477 fresh deaths and another 377 deaths previously unreported pushed the fatality count to 96,198, official data showed.