Looking at the current scenario and the rate of transmission of COVID-19 in India, the Centre has extended the lockdown till May 3, 2020. India has surpassed the 29,000-mark in terms of COVID-19 positive cases. Stepping forward with effective strategies to tackle the crisis, all the three tiers of the Government are proactively and tirelessly working to prevent the COVID-19 crisis and ensure essentials to the people. Speaking on such efforts and initiatives taken by Tumkur, T Bhoobalan, Commissioner, Tumkur City Corporation, joined in a webinar hosted by Dr Ravu Gupta, Founder and CEO, Elets Technomedia.
Bhoobalan, highlighting the proactive approach of the civic body towards the crisis, said, “We had taken all the steps for preventing, mitigating and treating the pandemic before it started spreading in India. We proactively conducted house to house searches, found suspected cases, isolated them, and sealed the area. immediately.” The result is that as of now, there are no active cases in the city, he added.
Initiatives by the Tumkur City Corporation
Detailing on the initiatives taken by the Tumkur civic body, Bhoobalan said, “In the wake of lockdowns implemented nationwide, we have taken every step possible to ensure that the lockdown and social distancing norms are being adhered to.” As many as 35 vehicles are deployed to deliver groceries, vegetables, fruits, and other essential commodities to the people’s doorstep in order to ensure no one steps out of their houses, he added.
Mentioning about the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), he said that the State and the Centre had been supportive in terms of availability of PPEs. “Within 3-4 days we received the required number of PPEs from the State Government.
Moreover, he also elaborated on the healthcare facilities and infrastructure in Tumkur saying, “We have established COVID care centre for serious cases. For mild to medium cases, we have dedicated facilities in health centres or isolation centres. Apart from these, we also started fever clinics in every nook and corner of the city for primary attention to any suspected case which if needed can be further referred to dedicated hospitals.” The corporation has also started conducting random testing to prevent community transmission of the viral pandemic, he added.
Answering a question regarding the safety of the corporation workers, he said that the civic body is ensuring that adequate no. of PPEs and masks are given to the sanitation workers. Also, regular health check-ups are being conducted for ensuring the safety of the workers.
Addressing the supply chain aspect in the city during the lockdown period, he said, “If the supply chain is affected, the prices of essentials will surge. So we are taking care that the supply chain is not affected. We are directly reaching out to the farmers to ensure no overpricing is done. For the groceries, we are ensuring the minimum retail price.”
Smart City interventions and usage of technology to fight the pandemic
When asked about the use of smart city interventions and technology in times of COVID-19 pandemic, Bhoobalan said, “Smart city interventions have helped us in geo-marking all the quarantined houses. We have over 480 cases under observation with travel history.” Specific colour codes have been given to each category of persons under surveillance like yellow for those who require 1-14 days under quarantine, for 15-20 days orange, for serious cases red, and green for those who have completed their quarantine period and recovered cases, he added.
Further, emphasizing on the surveillance and monitoring being carried out in the city, Bhoobalan said, the corporation is using CCTV cameras and drones to monitor the lockdown across the city. “We are taking slum areas very seriously. We have established fever clinics near the slum areas. We are also doing ground research and strict monitoring to ensure all suspects including asymptomatic or symptomatic, are identified and isolated”, Bhoobalan added.
During the webinar, Bhoobalan was also asked to speak on the status of the smart city projects in the city. Addressing the question he said, “We will complete all the projects by March 2021. Our all India rank is currently 19th among the 100 smart cities. We have around 127 projects of which 40 plus projects have been completed and rest are underway as due to pandemic the work is stalled.” The corporation is also working on a project to monitor the leakage of water from the pipeline network across the city. Also, rainwater harvesting is mandatory for every building, he added.
Highlighting the successful efforts by the Tumkur City Corporation in terms of sanitation and cleanliness, Bhoobalan said that Tumkur city was the second in Karnataka to achieve the ODF status. “In the sanitation domain, we are using GPS for tracking the waste collection vehicles. We are also using ICT to spread awareness through information boards, LED screens and more on sanitation. We are disinfecting the sanitation vehicles on a regular basis”, he added.
Answering a question pointing towards the status of tax payments in the city, Bhoobalan said, “We started a door-to-door collection of taxes and allowed taxpayers to use different modes like cards, demand drafts, cheques, etc for payment. In 2019, we have achieved a 100 percent property tax collection.”
Describing further about the smart city works Bhoobalan said, “For the beautification of the city, we have taken up Amanikare lake rejuvenation project at a cost of Rs 40 crore, which include construction of footpaths and cycle tracks around the lake, boating and more. We are also creating an ecosystem for the birds, through which exclusive islands will be created for the birds as a habitat for them during their migration season”, he added.
Closing the session, he said, as of now we are in a good position with regards to the COVID-19 situation with no active case at present. Moreover, the corporation is prepared to respond in case the situation worsens.