India’s proactive approach in combating the COVID-19 pandemic has won appreciations across the globe. As of yet, it is the effective implementation of impactful strategies in response to the pandemic that has enabled the country to avoid the fate as bad as some of the world’s developed countries. However, not to rest on its marginally better situation but India has to be more vigilant and needs to implement stricter measures to control the pandemic. Moreover, in order to contain the viral outbreak completely, it is important to act at the grassroots level. And, the role of local governments become prominent in this aspect. Realizing the fact, in India, every civic body is taking initiatives to curb the COVID-19 menace effectively. Detailing on the initiatives taken by the Narayanpet district authorities in protecting the district from the pandemic, Hari Chandana Dasari, Collector and District Magistrate, Narayanpet, Telangana joined in a webinar hosted by Dr Ravi Gupta, Founder and CEO, Elets Technomedia and Editor-in-Chief of EGov Magazine.
Naryanpet’s preparedness to fight COVID-19
Addressing the webinar’s core theme, Dasari began by saying, “We decided to close down our borders even before the lockdown started.” The authorities deployed police officials at the village borders so that people don’t move in and out, she added. Moreover, to strictly prevent the movement of vehicles and people across the borders, “We requested our neighbour districts to arrange migrant camps and also urged the Government of Maharashtra, our neighbouring state, to see that people don’t migrate out”, she added.
“We have onboarded all our local representatives, we have spoken to the Sarpanches, all the ward members and explained to them diagrammatically, showed them how the virus spreads and how precautions to be taken in villages”, she said.
Describing the supply of essentials to the people, Dasari said, “We have roped in SHG women for doorstep delivery of the vegetables, fruits, meat. milk, groceries and other essentials. We have also provided them with 14 vehicles for the purpose.”
Technology to rescue in times of Coronavirus
Talking about how technology has posed as a great enabler for the civic body to tackle the pandemic, Dasari said, “We have a Geo-tagging app which is developed by NRSC and it is being used on a pilot basis in our district. Hence, using the app we have started geo-tagging the houses of those under home quarantine.” However, the authorities have ensured that those under home quarantines have been stamped by the officials at medical camps set up by the authorities, she added.
She also mentioned that due to a lot of movement of vehicles carrying essential goods, the authorities are using drones to frequently sanitize the area and the vehicles entering the district limits.
Elaborating about the use of technology, she said, “We have also developed a digital platform called T-Consultant to connect the non-COVID patients in need of medical attention with the doctors. The people can connect using their smartphones, laptops with the doctors on the digital health platform without coming out from their homes amidst the lockdown.” As of yet, 1,100 consultations have been conducted, she added.
On similar grounds, Telangana also has a T-sat application, a smart class digital platform which can be used by the teachers to explain difficult topics through video illustrations and explanations. People can also place an order for this and the government will provide them with lessons. “We have revamped the old school buildings and infrastructure. The walls were painted afresh, all the benches which needed repairs were repaired, toilets were refurbished and water supply is now taken care of. It was done with a collaborative effort of the authorities, NGOs and villagers also helped”, she added.
Employment issues and skill development programmes
Addressing the scenario of employment, she said, “We have women who are skilled for making sarees, but in the present time they do not have any market to sell. So, we bought a stock of sarees from them and gave it to SHG women to stitch masks out of it.”
The women started getting more orders for the masks and therefore there are about 4000 women working for stitching masks and they are selling them in places like Hyderabad and various other parts of the states, she added. “We have also ordered 2 lakh masks for distributing to our general public”, said Dasari.
Further detailing on the skilled workers and livelihood, Dasari said, “There are a lot of workers who have travelled back to their villages and so for opening up the opportunities for them we are going for the NREGS system where the village works are opened which provides livelihood to these workers.”
Summarising the session she said, “The authorities have been proactive in dealing with the outbreak and there are clear guidelines which have been provided to us and we are taking actions in line with the guidelines issued.”