The next few weeks are extremely crucial for India if we have to control the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). In a stressful situation like this, IAS officers are working round the clock to provide essential services like groceries, masks, hand sanitisers and awareness to every person
As per the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March, India will be in a lockdown for the next 21 days (till 15 April). This means people will not be allowed to step outside their homes with a few exceptions. Read a detailed guide on the lockdown here.
In a stressful situation like this, the burden of ensuring that the protocol is followed falls on Municipal Corporations and District Administrations in urban and rural areas, respectively.
Consequently, IAS officers across India have pulled up their socks to keep their people safe and secure.
They have already started working round the clock to provide essential services like groceries, masks, hand sanitizers and awareness to every person.
Here are five efforts that deserve to be applauded.
- Fast Track Action In Kerala
On 7 March, PB Nooh, the DC of Pathanamthitta was in Trivandrum when he received the news of the first three COVID-19 cases in his district. By midnight he was back in the district and immediately set up a control room with doctors, police and volunteers to trace the infected patients, who were isolated in hospitals within three hours.
The very next day, when five more patients tested positive, Nooh tracked their phones and tower locations with the help of the Superintendent, and within six days, all of them were quarantined.
The DC also traced 4,000 people across the district who were suspected of having been exposed to the infection and quarantined them at home.
- Low-Cost Hand Sanitisers and Masks in MP & Tamil Nadu
Noticing that hand sanitisers and masks were flying off the shelves, and anticipating that the shortage would lead to more panic, Harshika Singh, the Collector of Tikamgarh roped in 150 women from Self-Help Groups across the district to make these valuable products.
“They prepare up to 1,500 sanitisers daily, and their price varies from Rs 10-25. Meanwhile, masks are available at Rs 20. These women are abiding by the social distancing protocol, and the products are prepared at home. Villagers can visit them and make a purchase,” Singh tells The Better India.
A similar move was adopted by Preeti Maithil, the DC of MP’s Sagar district, who took advantage of an in-built handloom centre in the district jail.
55 jail inmates managed to manufacture 10,000 washable, reusable and double-layered cloth masks. The masks are distributed for free to frontline health workers, doctors and the police and people can purchase them at local shops for Rs 10 per piece. Read more here.
Likewise, Tuticorin District Collector, Sandeep Nanduri, has appointed SHGs to manufacture face masks, sanitisers, soaps, and Lysol to ensure adequate supply.
- Door-To-Door Vegetables in Ahmedabad
As soon as the lockdown was announced, a state of panic loomed over people across the country as they worried about getting essential food items. Many were spotted in huge numbers on streets to stock supplies, thus ignoring the protocol of social distancing.
In a reassuring announcement, Vijay Nehra, the Commissioner of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) declared that dedicated rickshaws would cover every corner of the city to provide vegetables to people at their homes. He has allocated ten e-rickshaws and appointed women from Self-Help Groups in this project.
He has also assured that activities will be scaled up within the next 48 hours.
AMC has also tied up with restaurants and food joints to provide meals to daily wagers, homeless and the destitute every day.
- Donating a Month’s Salary to Meet Health Expenditure in Chattisgarh
In a noble gesture, Awanish Sharan, the District Collector of Kabirdham has decided to donate his one month’s salary to Chief Minister Relief Fund to meet unforeseen expenditures to fight the coronavirus.
He also urged citizens to step forward to make financial contributions as per their convenience and shared the bank account number on social media.
As for safety measures, Sharan has set up a district surveillance unit and call centre for information related to coronavirus. Citizens can call in from 8 am to 8 pm.
Residents of the district outside Kabirdham and non-residents present in the district who are stuck due to the lockdown can directly reach out to Sharan for any help.
Like Sharan, Sonal Goel, the CEO of Gurugram Metropolitan City Bus Limited (GMCBL) also donated her one month’s salary to the Haryana Corona Relief Fund. She went a step ahead and even convinced all employees and staff of GMCBL to donate their one day’s salary towards the cause.
Like Sharan and Sonal, 121 IPS officers and 809 PPS officers in Punjab will donate their one day’s salary to the CM Relief Fund to combat the deadly virus. A combined sum of Rs 33.3 lakh is expected to be given by the officers to the relief fund.
- Breaking the Chain Via Hand Washing
The #BreakTheChain campaign was launched by the Kerala Health Department, to educate people about handwashing and personal hygiene.
Joining the campaign, Dr Divya S Iyer, IAS, who is currently heading the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), is going on-ground to reach out to the MNREGS workers.
She highlights how most of the people employed under the scheme across 38,000 sites are above the age of 50 and are thus, highly susceptible to the virus.
“On my visit to the Kallikkad village as part of the campaign, we demonstrated proper hand washing techniques to the workers and ensured that they had all the necessary facilities like soap and water. We’ve instructed them to wash their hands frequently and bathe before and after work,” says Dr Divya.