Cities in India have shifted to the disaster management mode and are coming up with improved solutions to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. In some of the cities smart city interventions have been a great enabler to fight the pandemic, whereas, in some others, it is their effective planning and execution that has helped them containing the outbreak. Bhilwara district of Rajasthan is also one of the districts wherein effective measures are being taken to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the Bhilwara model has been well appreciated by other cities and the Centre as well. Throwing light on the Bhilwara’s approach Rajendra Bhatt, District Magistrate and Collector, Bhilwara joins in a webinar hosted by Dr Ravi Gupta, Founder and CEO, Elets Technomedia.
Bhatt addressing the webinar said that our proactive approach is the reason behind the success of the Bhilwara model. Talking about the approach adopted by the Bhilwara authorities he said, “We received our first COVID-19 positive case on March 18. And, we immediately came in action as soon as the case was reported”, he added.
The first COVID-19 positive person in the district was a doctor. The authorities started to contact tracing and enlisting the number of the patients he had consulted. “Identifying the patients was one of the major challenges we dealt with”, said Bhatt.
Measures to control the pandemic
Elaborating on the steps taken by the district authorities he said, “Sealing of the district borders was one of the immediate measures we implemented.” The move was to ensure no movement of people or vehicles to and fro the district. As per Bhatt, it was really important to seal the district borders at first to prevent any infected person getting in or out of the district and break the chain of transmission.
In addition, public transport like buses, cabs, and others in the district were also brought to halt, said Bhatt. Further, wherever positive cases were found, the areas were mapped and areas where the areas where more cases were found were labelled as COVID-19 hotspots and were also mapped, he added.
Moreover, a team of 2300 workers was constituted which conducted a door-to-door survey covering all the residences in the district including the urban and the rural areas. The survey was aimed to identify the potential COVID-19 cases so that those found can be quarantined under medical supervision, said Bhatt.
Detailing on the proactive approach by the district authorities, Bhatt said, “We implemented the lockdown much before the Centre implemented the nationwide lockdown. The Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot was briefed about the move beforehand.” The operations were being carried in teams including officials from the Panchaytiraj department and Education department, Labor department, Rural Development department, he added.
Acknowledging the support from the people, Bhatt said that the people cooperated with the authorities which in turn eased the implementation of the measures. “The State Government of Rajasthan also supported Bhilwara’s approach and helped us in containing the pandemic”, said Bhatt.
Talking on the efforts to aid people during the lockdown, Bhatt said, the authorities have set up a war room for effective implementation of the initiatives and regular monitoring of the movement in the district. A control room number was also launched so that any person in need of any assistance from the authorities can contact.
The control room was also used to monitor the logistics of the essential commodities to ensure the lockdown norms are being followed and social distancing is practised. Moreover, “We started the doorstep delivery of all the essential commodities including vegetables, fruits, groceries, and medicines”, added Bhatt.
All the festivals are and will be celebrated behind closed doors. People should not come out to the streets in order to celebrate any occasion, said Bhatt. “We are fighting to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and such activities can dissolve the sole purpose of lockdowns implemented nationwide”, he added.
Bhilwara’s model to tackle the COVID-19 has been in discussions and district authorities of other districts are also contacting us to know about our approach and its execution, Bhatt said.
Resting his words, Bhatt thanked the people in the district for their cooperation and marked it as a reason for the success of the Bhilwara model. Even today people are very cooperative and are disciplined considering the seriousness of the pandemic. It is the people who are driving the efforts by the administration towards a better future.