The onset of COVID-19 in Karnataka was confirmed on March 9. After two days later, the state became the first in India to invoke the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to curb the spread of the disease. To know more on the issue, Elets Technomedia organized a webinar with Dr Shalini Rajneesh, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Planning, Programme Monitoring & Statistic Department, Karnataka.
Speaking on the initiatives, Dr Rajneesh said, “The state government has set up 15 committees to monitor different activities in the state. I am heading the grievance redressal committee and we were getting lakhs of calls every day from people.” The issues of people were rising during the lockdown with every passing day, she added.
“We were getting calls for ration requests, calls seeking information on the lockdown and what next going to happen. We were also getting calls for medical assistance during the lockdown”, told Dr Rajneesh. Social media was one of the tools used to resolve the issues of the people, she added.
“We have started an internship programme for postgraduates, who will be helping the government to battle the COVID in different sectors”, told Dr Rajneesh.
Dr Rajneesh, speaking on the challenges faced, said, “From the last few days, it’s been a huge challenge and it’s changing with every passing day. Everyone from the health department to policemen to government officials to citizens all are supporting each other in this crisis.”
Adding on challenges, she said, “The huge challenge was to set up coordination between the helpline numbers…We are trying to set up a single platform for all the grievances as it can be seen as a gift of COVID to citizens.”
Further, she said, “We are focusing on zero unemployment. With the help of data collected, we are trying to find how many people are unemployed. We are now looking at qualitative data, which will help us in the near future.” It’s compulsory for all the people to register the data they have secured with the concerned department. The data is being protected and necessary ones are published on the public domain, she added.
Preparations for Pandemic
Dr Rajneesh said, “We used this pandemic to create our database. We have created a portal to link the work of the govt towards labour welfare activities, with CSR funds. We registered many NGOs with us, which we can use in future if such a crisis arises again.”
Moreover, “We linked farmers directly to the market vendors through a mobile app so that they don’t incur losses and supply of vegetables should continue seamlessly”, she added.
Concluding her address she said, “We open to welcome any innovative ideas from the people and will be happy to implement them for a larger good. Without IT platforms, it is unthinkable to tackle such a crisis in a country like India.”