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Kerala’s Covid war room witnesses hectic activity

In no time, on condition that both of them would be in quarantine, they were allowed to cross the border,” said the official who alerted the CMO.

Published: 05th April 2020 05:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th April 2020 05:08 AM   |  A+A-

Beneficiaries standing in front of the ration shop for getting their free ration, by adhering to social distancing norms, at Nanthankode in Thiruvananthapuram. Distribution of free ration began in Kerala on April 1 | Vincent Pulickal

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Manoj, (name changed) a 26-year-old Kochi-based IT professional, was paralysed waistdown in an accident last year. He has been undergoing physiotherapy at a major hospital in Tamil Nadu. A couple of days into the lockdown, the hospital was converted into a Covid treatment zone. On the same day, accompanied by his mother, Manoj was being brought back to Kerala.

Though it was difficult, they were able to pass through various checkposts and police pickets set up in Tamil Nadu, as they had been issued a travel permit online. And an SUV was on standby on the Kerala side of the border since morning, waiting to take them home. At Tirupur, they were stopped by a collector-led delegation. Inter-state travel was an unthinkable option, given his medical condition and the mother-son duo was asked to return. Meanwhile, his father, a top government official, was getting desperate on the other side of the border.

That’s when the matter came to the attention of a ministerial staff member (of another department), who in turn alerted the chief minister’s office (CMO). “I was asked to send a detailed mail. Within 12 minutes the system started moving like a well-oiled machine. A senior official got in touch with his TN counterpart. It was first turned down, citing the emergency medical protocol in place. Soon, the CM intervened. A call was made to the Tirupur collector from the Chief Secretary’s office.

In no time, on condition that both of them would be in quarantine, they were allowed to cross the border,” said the official who alerted the CMO. A call to 0471-2517225, the Kerala war-room, is all it takes to bring various issues to the notice of the state government. In its fight against Covid, Kerala has been ensuring smooth functioning of various services and sorting out grievances through a round-the-clock warroom at the Secretariat. It handles around 250 requests every day, including around 120 calls, WhatsApp messages which are directly routed to the CMO, cabinet ministers and senior officials.

The war-room, which acts more like a mini government with around 20 staff operating in shifts, including some eight IAS officers on a rotation basis, handles a slew of issues, including logistics, transport, problems related to migrant labourers, medicine supply, stranded Keralites, shortage of essential commodities, foreigners’ issues and travel woes.

“The war room also deals with a slew of other day-to-day activities, including movement of goods, supply of perishable, essential goods and medicines and other related matters. It looks into various issues, takes appropriate decisions, implements it as per priority, liaises with the Centre and state governments, if needed. There are officials designated to look into issues and take appropriate calls E Chandrasekharan, in charge, Disaster Management

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