Strategies and Solutions employed by PCMC to counter the COVID-19 pandemic

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Pimpri/Pune 14 APR 2020 – Pimpri Chinchwad is an extension of the city limits of Pune and a part of the Pune Metropolitan Region. The city, that was raised as an industrial hub and primarily a support township for Pune has now emerged as a major developing city. The past few years have seen a splurge in the population as well as the residential capacity of Pimpri. Along with an increase in population, comes an increase in waste generation.

Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has performed incredibly well in waste management and sanitation services. More recently, PCMC has caught the eye for being swift and vigilant in their response to fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic .

PCMC has initiated several innovative and important initiatives to counter the spread of the virus. But it is futile to fight a war without a control room to monitor the events, advancements and changes that need to be made. It is keeping this in mind that PCMC decided to set up a War Room. This was done under the Pimpri Chinchwad Smart City Limited. The room has been set up to properly manage the COVID situation in PCMC and it uses tools like GIS mapping, data analysis, monitoring of quarantined households, etc.

A helpline number has also been set up to encourage concerned citizens to directly reach out to the authorities. The War Room is being used to ensure that all these questions and queries can be answered by professionals. This is extremely important, especially in a time as sensitive as this, when fake news dominates the online sphere.

PCMC has used technology as an effective tool to combat the pandemic situation. From the use of an app to monitoring using GIS tools and monitoring dashboard, PCMC has been able to utilize digital technology for proper monitoring and tracking of the COVID situation in the city. Effective functioning also leads to better decision making by the Municipal Corporation.

Of all the digital solutions available in the arsenal of PCMC, the PCMC Smart Sarathi mobile application truly stands out. Firstly, the app has a COVID-19 Self-Assessment Test.

This is an online self-assessment test for the citizens living in the PCMC area. The test has been framed around a “Risk Assessment Criterion” through which depending on the answers to the questions, the health risk of any citizen can be identified. This test is beneficial not only to citizens but also to the corporation as the ULB can effectively gather data online which can then be analysed properly to design an action plan and an effective response to mitigate the risks. Secondly, the app has a quarantined movement check. This is a way to engage &survey quarantined patients with the intent of identifying their geographic location. If the location of the patient is more than 100 meters from the identified location (current location), an automatic update is sent to the concerned health worker of that area. Thirdly, PCMC has started a campaign through the app. via this campaign, they appeal to the citizens to volunteer towards relief measures. This online campaign collects the data of volunteers, which will be helpful for further action plans of PCMC. Lastly and most importantly, the app comes with a ‘Near-me’ feature. This shows nearby places like hospitals, government offices, markets etc.

that are functional and can be accessed by the citizens. It also displays the location of nearby free food distribution centers &shelter facilities for needy people. Currently, 40+ free food distribution centers, 9 Home Shelters, 35+ emergency dispensaries, 50+ Grocery stores providing home delivery have been listed. PCMC is also planning to add more information in this section like address and contact details of shops providing essentials like grocery, medicines, vegetables &hospitals authorised for Covid-19 testing and treatment. While it is extremely important to ensure that citizens practice social distancing and stay indoors, it is equally important to take care of those people who are working on the front lines. Thus, for the protection of our Swachhata Warriors, PCMC has made the provision of special Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all sanitation workers. Along with this, the sanitation staff has also been given regular instructions with provision of guidelines and SOPs on conducting disinfection in common public places and door to door waste collection and handling of waste.

PCMC is regularly spreading awareness and the latest developments in their activities through various media channels – social media, local media – print and TV. Along with this, Public Address Systems have been attached to all garbage collection vehicles. They are being used to play audio clips on a range of topics that include COVID awareness, precautionary hygiene management, Government Advisories, etc. This shows that PCMC is dedicated towards educating and eventually protecting their citizens from the COVID-19 menace.

Pimpri has always boasted of a diverse and eclectic spirit. It is heartening to see that this suburb town of Maharashtra is keeping its spirts soaring in the midst of a global pandemic and truly embracing a culture of Swachhata and Swasthata in all their efforts.