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Exclusive | Gurugram civic bodies effectively tackling COVID crisis: Sonal Goel

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Sonal Goel

The Coronavirus outbreak has rapidly infected a huge number of people across the country. Considering the fact, the local governments have been working tirelessly to control the spread of the Coronavirus. Throwing light on the impactful strategies adopted by the Gurugram civic bodies to tackle the pandemic, Sonal Goel, IAS, CEO, Gurugram Metropolitan City Bus Limited (GMBCL) and Additional CEO, Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) addressed a webinar organised by Elets Technomedia.

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Role of GMDA

Sonal shared a presentation on the initiatives taken by GMDA in times of COVID. She said, “GMDA has developed “CovHarA” which is an online platform developed with an aim to integrate all the health-related bodies on a single platform. The platform holds information related to healthcare centres, patients, healthcare workers, etc.” The authority has also started telemedicine service through the portal, she added.

Elaborating on the initiatives by the development authority, Sonal said, “We also have smart city division which has leveraged its Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) as a COVID war room. We have around 300 cameras for monitoring and we have a live feed of 100 cameras at a time at the video wall.” Civic amenities are also being monitored through the cameras. A dedicated team is there for surveillance and the moment they get a feed from the camera wherein norms are being compromised, an immediate alert is being sent to the team, on the ground for prompt action, she added.

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“GMDA is also monitoring a call centre wherein we receive various complaints related to civic services or the lockdown situation etc. We have made it mandatory that an action taken report has to be filed within 48 hours of the complaint”, said Sonal.

Talking about the GMDA’s GIS division she said, “We have a GIS lab and all the non-GIS data is being converted into GIS data. One of the significant features of the GIS division is to provide e-passes to people for movement within the city.”

Adding on, Sonal said, “GMDA has two major responsibilities, irrespective of COVID presence, are dry and wet infrastructure management. Under dry – roads, solid waste, buildings, etc. and under wet infra we have – water supply, sewage, liquid waste etc.” GMDA has been effectively managing both the dry and the wet infra in the city even during the COVID lockdown, she added.

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Role of GMBCL

Throwing light on the role of GMCBL, Sonal again presented a few slides. She said, “Before the lockdown was officially announced by the Government of India and COVID cases had started to surface, we began regular disinfection of GMCBL buses and displaying health-related posters on our buses to spread awareness among people.”

Moreover, “the GMBCL started contributing to the CM Cares Relief Find for COVID-19 when I contributed my entire one month’s salary to the fund”, mentioned Sonal. Following the move, all the employees of the authority contributed their salaries to the fund. A total amount of Rs 10,33,000 was contributed to the CM relief fund, she added.

“We used our buses to transport ration, groceries, fruits and vegetables, and other essential commodities to the citizens”, said Sonal. GMBCL in collaboration with the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram changed buses into mobile grocery stores, she added. Further detailing on the initiative, Sonal mentioned that the Residents Welfare Associations (RWA) would send requests to the municipal body, the municipal body will compile the request and on the basis of that, the buses from GMBCL were deployed to supply essentials to the people.

In addition to this, Sonal told the attendees, “the Gurugaman (locally popular name of GMBCL) also initiated a voluntary distribution drive wherein we distributed sanitation items – hand sanitisers and disinfectants, masks, eatables, etc. in the slum areas. Also, we distributed essential food items in the slum areas.”

Turning her words towards the migrant labour issues, she said, “We also used our buses to transport migrant labourers from various places to quarantine centres, relief camps and shelter homes.” GMBCL also started a review mechanism where the staff members reached out to market areas, shelter homes, and other places to see if the social distancing is being practised, she added.

“We are also using our social media handles top spread awareness among people and we regularly post information regarding COVID”, she mentioned.

GMBCL buses were also used by the Chief Medical Officer to transport medical teams amidst the lockdown and also the people who were under quarantine. “We have also transformed one of our buses into a mobile COVID testing unit which is being used for sample collection”, Sonal added.

Concluding her address she said that the civic bodies in Gurugram are effectively functioning at the grassroots level  to help people as much as possible in this time of crisis, prevent the Corona spread to the maximum possible, and ensuring the lockdown norms are being strictly adhered.

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