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Elets Exclusive | Our priority is to fight COVID-19, rest is secondary: KK Nirala

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KK Nirala, IAS, District Collector, Ahmedabad

With COVID-19 spread across the country, the Government of India has declared a lockdown till May 3, 2020. The Coronavirus is spreading at a great pace in some states including Maharashtra, Delhi, and Gujarat. There is a huge spike witnessed in the state of Gujarat in the last few days. The state government is trying to curb the rise of viral cases in many ways. From doctors to sanitation workers to policemen, all are putting their efforts to defeat the menace of the virus. KK Nirala, IAS, District Collector, Ahmedabad, joined in a webinar hosted by Dr Ravi Gupta, Founder and CEO, Elets Technomedia to discuss the initiatives that the civic authorities in Ahmedabad are taking in to fight the COVID-19 crisis.

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Ahmedabad during COVID-19

Nirala started off by mentioning the situation in the Ahmedabad city. Describing the situation in Ahmedabad, Nirala said that no industries or offices in the municipal limits of the city have been allowed to resume functions.

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Further, acknowledging the citizens, Nirala said, the panic among people is going down and the death ratio has also decreased. The recovery rate is increasing in the state which is good news.

Supply of essentials in times of crisis

KK Nirala, addressing the topic, said, “We have over 1 crore population in Ahmedabad and the city is one of the largest in the state. During this lockdown, we are trying to provide all the essential commodities including groceries, medicines, and eatables to people.” The smooth supply of essential goods is really important so that people do not panic, he added.

“We have made it clear to people that Ahmedabad is in a controlled situation in terms of groceries, food grains, vegetables, fruits and other essential supplies, therefore, there is no need to store the ration for months”, said Nirala.

Further, Nirala said, “We had given enough safety guidelines for our essential commodity stores and suppliers. We have tied up with shopkeepers, truckers, wholesalers, and meetings have been conducted to take out fear from their minds.”

On the distribution of cooked food packets to feed the poor and the needy, he said, the officials are supplying more than 1 lakh food packets to the needy. Not only food packets but we are also providing ration to those also who do not have ration cards and are daily wage labourers. “We also had meetings with police to ease out the logistics of essential supplies”, he added.

Technology and Social media to rescue

Talking on how the technological measures and social media have enabled the civic administration to act effectively on the pandemic situation, Nirala hailed the social media platforms and said, “Social media has provided a very effective platform for the Government to communicate the steps being taken, essential announcements, and also it is easier to get public’s reaction. This is a two-way communication that is beneficial for taking apt steps.” The social media and other media platforms are being used for explaining the govt policies and protocols to the people in the city. People are understanding the efforts, the civic body is making, he added.

He also said, “We are the first district to make the permits online to facilitate people.” The district administration has taken a significant step wherein mobile ATM service has been started in the city for the convenience of the people, Nirala added.

Adding onto the technology usage aspect, he said that in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic technology has been a great enabler and has contributed highly to strengthen our response.

Healthcare facilities and Preventive measures

When asked about the medical facilities and the preparedness of the authorities in terms of apt healthcare infra, he said, “Earlier we had only two testing facilities in Gujarat but now we have more labs. Only in Ahmedabad, there are over three testing facilities. The Government has also allowed a few private healthcare facilities to test the disease. There are over 1,200 dedicated beds available for COVID-19 patients. There are also 30 beds for critical situations and 500 beds for quarantine purposes. In Ahmedabad, more than 5000 beds are available in total for COVID-19.”

Talking about aiding people in need of medical help, other than COPVID-19 cases, he said, “Many senior citizens are facing difficulties regarding regular medical checkups due to COVID-19 patients. Therefore, we started telemedicine facilities for people who need regular medical checkups or need to consult doctors for any other ailment they are suffering from.”

Turning his words towards Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), Nirala informed, “Initially it was difficult to get PPEs. Now we are in a good position considering PPE kits as many private agencies that have access to PPEs are donating it to the hospitals.”

Further, on pharma companies he said, raw materials are being supplied and not even a single day any firm faced any difficulty in their functioning.

Concluding the webinar session, he said that our first priority is to fight the virus and economy and others are secondary. Considering the Centre’s order to reopen shops and a few industries with 50 percent workforce, Nirala said, starting firms again is a bold decision and we are supporting so that life can come back on track and the economy can be developed again.

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