Arunachal’s control room that never sleeps: A small team working overtime to ensure flow of info on Covid-19 activities

(Inset photo from Arunachal Observer)

Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Apr 26: The Arunachal state control room is the nerve centre of information related to the activities being carried out in the state against Covid-19.
Located at the state civil secretariat, the control room works 24 hours and is headed by Vikram Singh Malik, an IAS officer of the 2012 batch.
The hi-tech centre, http://covid19.itanagar, which provides information on Covid-19, started work on 22 March, a day before the state was locked down following the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. While mostly working in the backroom, it has emerged as the multidimensional centre for surveillance, information, and implementation of all Covid-19-related activities.
There are less than 40 people, drawn from the health, the IT and the police departments, besides NDRF personnel and the chief minister’s fellows, who make sure that the control room works 24×7.
Though many of them work from home, the control room ensures timely flow of information to and from the districts regarding anything related to the Covid-19 activities in the state.

“We provide data to the state government for monitoring and decision-making,” says Malik.
That includes reaching out to those stranded outside the state, and those within the state who are in need of assistance in terms of healthcare and food, through the respective deputy commissioners.
Earlier, the state government had asked the people stranded outside the state to fill out a form prepared by the centre to receive financial aid.
“More than 15,000 people stranded outside the state have filled out the forms,” said Education Special Secretary Santosh Kumar Rai, who is also in charge of the control room’s HR section.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu had announced that five crore twenty lakhs six thousand and five hundred rupees has been released by the state government from the CM’s relief fund for the people of Arunachal who are stranded in other states because of the nationwide lockdown.
The state cabinet had earlier decided to provide financial assistance of Rs 3500 per person to the people of the state who are stranded in various parts of the country, through the deputy commissioners.
“The team keeps track on health logistics and development of portal links to capture the data of all returnees for their effective monitoring,” says Malik.
Recently, it facilitated issuing of e-Med e-passes to patients and others stranded in the capital complex, and developed the state information portal for Covid-19.
It has also established 24×7 landline phone and WhatsApp helpline numbers.
The 24×7 helpline has received calls ranging from distress- to health-related issues. Most of the calls, according to the update on the website, are from people stranded outside the state, numbering more than 1300.
The centre also has telemedicine and counselling facilities.
The tele-health centre (0360-2292774 and 80103 40000) set up in association with the Indian Medical Association’s Arunachal chapter, has 14 doctors on call. All calls are received by the centre and are directed to the respective doctors between 9 am and 5 pm.
The services available are pediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, medicine, general medical consultation, and psychiatry. On an average, each doctor receives upto 10 calls a day.
Malik’s core team consists of two other IAS officers – Rai, who looks after the HR part, and Smart City CEO Bhanu Prabha, who is looking after infrastructure and IT requirements.
The CM’s fellows, Ronnie Nido, Kime Bune, Rinchui Raman, Persis, and Menpa Linggi, are a team that does the arduous job of compiling reports that come from the districts and other parts of the country.
Pinak looks after software development, while Rohi and Aditya, from E&Y, are assisting with IT solutions.
Utkarsh, an architect, is providing designs for the health facilities required on priority, such as mini-ICUs. Five mini-ICUs are coming up, in Pasighat, Tezu, Aalo, Ziro and Khonsa.
Health Secretary P Parthibhan says that most of the ICUs will be operational by next week.
Malik says that the team is yet to run into any major problem as the entire administration is working as a cohesive force “as in elections.”
“Everyone is well aware of the gravity of the situation and cooperating,” he says.
The control room will remain operational as long as the threat of Covid-19 remains, Malik says.
The control room’s helpline numbers are: +91-360-2292774/2292775/2292777, and toll-free numbers 104 and 1075.