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Kerala IFS Uses Coir To Prevent 90 Lakh Plastic Bags From Reaching Landfills

NOG Team
In 2018, when Meenakshi C was made the Conservator of Forests in Kerala’s Central Region, her aim was to eliminate the age-old use of polythene bags to raise seedlings, and increase the awareness among youngsters about the positive effects of greenery in urban areas.“Every year, the Forestry Department distributes 90 lakh seedlings to schools, colleges, forest clubs, panchayats, and other organisations, on World Environment Day, and through the week of Van Mahotsav. But these seedlings are traditionally raised in polythene bags that are buried under the soil or disposed of after the sapling has been planted. This disturbed me,” mentions Meenakshi.Consequently, from January 2019 onwards, Meenakshi and her team started testing sustainable materials such as bamboo shoots, coconut shells, and gunny bags to grow the saplings. Sadly, none of these attempts were successful. “The bamboo shoots would become fragile with continuous exposure to water. Additionally, the medium restricted the growth of roots, and would also end up damaging them during the planting stage, when they would be removed from the container. Coconut shells also hindered the growth of the roots, and besides, sourcing 90 lakh coconut shells is no easy task. Gunny bags were an ideal solution until we realised the bags needed were not mobile. They needed external support to stand upright,” says Meenakshi.Stumbling Upon A Solution — CoirIn September 2019, while Meenakshi was still looking for sustainable solutions to raise seedlings, she got in touch with her former colleague, Sheik Hussain, who was the Conservator of Kozhikode.“When I explained to him what I was looking for, he suggested that I consider coir containers which were gaining popularity as a eco-friendly potting medium. He was unsure if I could find them in smaller sizes for raising saplings but asked me to contact an agent in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu who was a manufacturer and dealer of coir products like doormats. They were also manufacturing coir pots but only in bigger sizes. Once I got in touch with them, they were more than happy to make coir cups according to our requirements,” says Meenakshi.After some back and forth, the shape and size of the containers was finalised (2.5 mm thickness, 50 mm diameter, and 100 mm length), and 500 sample containers were purchased. More than 30 species of trees were planted to test the root growth of the plant, and durability of the medium.“It was a success. Even teakwood trees which have a dominant root system grew well. The coir containers are shaped like cones and are weightless. They also have perfect water retention capacity, and the material is just right — neither too dense nor too thin — thus allowing the roots to grow unhindered. Coir is also high in ‘lignin,’ a cellulose-like material responsible for its durability. Apart from this, the containers can be planted along with the sapling, making it a completely zero-waste product and process,” says Meenakshi.Seedling DistributionIn February 2020, a bulk order was placed to the same agent in Pollachi. Once it was delivered, the Social Forestry Department began planting seeds to prepare for World Environment Day.Anaz MA, the Divisional Forest Officer of Ernakulam district, who was also involved in the project says, “Being the nodal bodies that supply seedlings across the state, eliminating plastic was our number one priority for this year. Coir containers fit all the parameters we had set in place in terms of weight, size, durability, and mobility. Even after it was distributed to different schools in the city, the cups had remained in shape, none of them were damaged.”The initial plan was to distribute more than 10 lakh seedlings on World Environment Day, but due to the pandemic that was gripping Kerala, deliveries were delayed, and the department was prepared with only 5 lakh seedlings. This was distributed across 14 districts. The first distribution drive using coir containers, was a success. Meenakshi claims there were no damages to the containers during transit, nor were there any damages to the roots while planting them. Apart from that, the department had also received a positive response from those who had planted the seedlings.“In the following months, the other seedlings were raised, and we continued receiving more containers in order to prepare for Van Mahotsav week. We safely managed to distribute 40 lakh saplings, raised in coir containers, through the week of Van Mahotsav. We have distributed 50 lakh seedlings till now,” she says.Today, Meenakshi and her team are working on the second trial for the coir containers. “The first test was done during the months of summer when the weather was dry. Now, we are testing the container’s durability against heavy rains. If the test is a success, in the future all saplings will be distributed in coir containers thereby eliminating any use of plastic,” says Meenakshi.The story has been extracted from
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10 Gurugram Residents are Helping Organic Farmers Bring Produce to Your Doors

In such a situation, it is vital India finds alternative pathways of well-being, that help generate dignified livelihoods for all, and that help us move towards ecological sustainability.Before the pandemic drove things awry, people would throng the club patio at South City-1 in Gurugram during the early hours every Sunday. A long line of people would queue up in front of the closed gates of a marketplace, waiting to fill up their grocery bags with organic goodness. Even in the freezing winters of Gurugram, when the market would start a bit later, there would be no dearth of eager customers lining up. As soon as the clock struck 7 am and the gates opened, the market would be teeming with buyers and farmers — whose aim was to popularise clean and green food among consumers. Though the market is scheduled to remain open for three hours, the majority of the stalls are sold out within just an hour.Since 2014, the Gurgaon Organic Farmers’ Market (GOFM) has been catering to the sustainable eaters of the city. The market is largely a citizen’s initiative, spearheaded by permaculture designer Manas Arvind, organic enthusiast Adarsh Kanwal and around eight other residents of Gurugram. “The aim is to propagate the idea of treating a farmer as a friend, not simply a vendor. This attitude can impact the producer-consumer relation in the agricultural space of the country. That is why we offer full freedom to our farmer friends — be it in their products or prices. GOFM simply acts as a platform for them to showcase and sell their harvest,” clarifies Manas. Another significant aspect of this organic market is the absence of the vacant consumerist culture. The farmers and customers together have fruited a beautiful relationship which prioritises the community above everything — a community dedicated to sustainability. In fact, customers have the opportunity to pay a visit to the farms and assist the cultivator in his work as well. Around 50 local organic farmers like Prem Singh are associated with GOFM at present. Each Sunday, nearly 15-20 of them set up stalls, serving up to 500 customers. The turnover per table can range from anything between Rs 6000 to Rs 30,000, depending on the items on offer. However, the organisers do not demand a single rupee of the farmers’ profits. The farmers do pay a table fee and a nominal volunteer expense fee. “Our work is completely voluntary,” says Manas, reiterating their emphasis creating a citizen’s movement of clean, healthy and conscious eating. The ground management, stall checking and verification of the farmers’ backgrounds are all done by volunteers. Interestingly, the market is plant-based, which explains the absence of dairy, honey or poultry.Implementation during COVIDWithin a week from the announcement of the nationwide lockdown, their online portal was launched and the participating farmers were invited to upload details about their products.The sales and product delivery are managed by the farmers themselves, GOFM online is simply providing a portal at a nominal convenience fee for them to sail through these trying times. “Thankfully, we are still able to supply the customers,” shares Prem Singh. “We do not have any interest in turning ourselves into a national brand,” says Manas. The stakeholders of GOFM wish that such local organic market models are replicated all over India, enabling more and more consumers to go local and eat greener.The story has been extracted from
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Evolving villages to eradicate poverty

According to the 2011 census of India, there are more than 6 lakh villages in the country. Poverty is one of the issues faced by the nation as well. Sustainable Development Goal 1 by the UN is ‘eradicating poverty for all people everywhere’. ‘Evolve’ is one such enterprise that plans on achieving the goal through small ways.In a hope to earn more for a living, many people from rural villages move to metropolitan areas and cities in search of work. However, not everyone gets to fulfil their desires. Instead, most of them end up with petty jobs. The expenses to stay in a city is also high making them stay in a poor state. This leads them living in an unhealthy situation and away from home as well.Life in villages is simple. People have spacious houses if not big, land for agriculture and a small community. Travelling to cities not only reduces the standard of living of the rural people, but it also does not bring any growth to the village itself. Evolve Foundation believes that these villages are self-sufficient and people can live a good life. Therefore, it aims to build sustainable villages in Uttarakhand.Evolve uplifts a whole rural family by making them a part of their community. It buys seeds from them, provides employment for making the plantable stationery and also gives the farmer recognization for their work by mentioning the name in each product that is sold. Evolve is working on a community level that will surely add up to a better future for a bigger society.Developement happens with small steps leading to bigger changes. 
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The Sikh Family is helping perform Last Rites for COVID bodies

"There is no higher form of service to humanity than giving a dignified send-off to people rejected by their own."In the present times, social distancing has become the buzz word and action to follow, both from the alive as well as the dead. There seems to be no respite for the people even after their unfortunate demise from this disease as many individuals have refused to cremate the bodies. In such trying times, there is one individual along with his family who has taken the onus upon himself to perform these actions. Kartar Singh Lehari, a patwari has volunteered to cremate the bodies of people who have died due to this disease. Since April 2nd, when he cremated the famous spiritual singer, Padma Shri Nimral Singh Ragi. Toll today, he has cremated another 21 bodies that have passed away due to Covid.Lehari faced resistance from the residents of the area surrounding Verka Cremation ground, when he was asked by his senior officials to find a cremation ground for Ragi’s last rites. The patwari, along with the ambulance driver and the helper, under the full guise of PPE kits took Ragi’s body in an ambulance and prepared the pyre.Lehari has the full support of his wife, Jaswinder Kaur, a teacher and he has now made it his mission to help in the cremation of the patients that died due to this disease. Given the large amount of misinformation as well as the social stigma around the cremation of the people that died due to the disease, a number of families tend to disown and abandon their loved ones. Lehari is slowly seeing a shift in the attitude of people with families willing to come down to the cremation grounds but he still sees a long way to go.To watch their interview, please visit: story has been extracted from
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Fired From Her Job, Mumbai Cabbie Drives Over 200 Stranded People Home

“In situations like these, it’s important to help each other. We can truly overcome such adversity only as a community. By offering my services, I became a responsible citizen by doing my duty, as well as earning some money.”, said Vidya who lost her job. Vidya was passionate about driving since she was a child and learnt how to drive at a very young age. Her husband Anil runs a small business of transporting good but supporting the entire family single-handedly is a challenge in Mumabi, which is the reason she started her profession as an autorickshaw driver. Her passion made her go ahead with the job as a driver to support her family in a better way in a place like Mumbai. However, continuing the job as an autorikshaw driver was quite a problem especially with regards to security, and therefore decided to shift. Her work was a constant source of joy to her but things went south when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced. Like many others in the country, Vidya too, lost her job.From Adversity to OpportunityLosing her job meant that they would now earn half the amount they were which was laregly spent on children. It was quite a hit for them, but they were not ready to back down. Vidya wanted to turn this adversity into an opportunity for the people in need, her family and herself. She decided to help people, who were stranded due to the lockdown to reach their homes safely by charging minimal money for that. She started this service on March 28, and has helped almost 200 people so far. With the train and bus services shutting down, many were struggling to travel back to their homes. She realised the gravity of the situation and decided to do something about it. Her husband already had a car that she was using on the job, so she took it out, shot a video message announcing her services to those who needed it, and circulated it on social media. In a matter of 10 minutes, Vidya began to get calls for pickups. From senior citizens, pregnant women to families from migrant labourers, the cab driver helped them all, and drove to the farthest corners of Maharashtra to get them home. This shows us the correct use of social media in these tough times.One of the passengers has shared how her service helped him when he thought there was no way out. "I am deeply grateful to Vidya for helping out when there was no option available. My wife and I would be stuck in Mumbai if it wasn’t for her. She not only dropped us to our village in Jalna, but also helped make the e-passes. Additionally, she did all of this while also following all the safety protocols”, says Sunil Sadam, who was working as a daily wage worker in Mumbai.Since she's a mother and a wife who has to back to her family, she has to be careful of the virus. She adhered to the safety guidelines and made it mandatory to wear masks inside the cab and carried a bottle of sanitizer and extra masks for those who did not have them. Also, she would only take two passengers, except children, in the back seat of her car. No one was allowed to sit in the front seat, owing to the norms of social distancing.Helping Hand in times of NeedVidya charges only Rs 12 per km, one way for the journey, and also provides a return journey, if required, for free. She has also helped arrange for e-passes for her passengers. She has shared a story which has made her realise the importance of her service. She says, “There was a pregnant lady who approached me for a 160-km-long ride back home to Junnar. She was alone and did not have enough money to afford the travel, but was in a critical state, awaiting delivery any day. The municipal hospital had turned her away due to lack of vacancy, and she couldn’t afford any other hospital. So I managed to quickly make her an e-pass and started the journey. We were only some 10 kilometers away from her house, when the authorities at the checkpost denied entry to her, despite having all the documents right. Thanks to the help of another samaritan, a truck driver transporting agricultural goods, I managed to board and send her home after taking extraordinary measures. That is one incident I can never forget.”We can call Vidya the true hero of humanity, who goes the extra mile to make the lives of others better and also manage to support themselves. She a true example of an individual who is fulfillng the ISR. You can support Vidya or reach out for help, by getting in touch with her at: 7900071050.  The story has been extracted from:
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Significance of Community-Level Health workers during COVID 19

In the current health crisis that we all are in, being anxious and worried about our health and our family’s well-being is quite prevalent. In such times, the role of community-health workers, who continue to be on the frontline providing care, treatment and information, becomes much more amplified.As the world is learning to live safely alongside coronavirus, HPPI across its various projects is reaching out to the most vulnerable members of our society.  In Ranga Reddy, Telangana, HPPI’s Community Development Project implemented with support from Johnson and Johnson is continuing to improve the quality of life and health facilities in 95 villages, covering a population of 143,289 people under the project ‘Strengthening Anganwadi for Healthy & Educated Communities’.Launched in 2015, the project strengthens the healthcare capacities and provides health awareness and early child care services at 151 Anganwadi Centres and 37 Government health sub-centres by capacity building of the frontline workers. ASHA workers and Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) engaged in Government sub-centres are trained to extend awareness and quality services for pregnant women and new mothers, a service they have continued to provide during the lockdown period. Project staff members in collaboration with government authorities and community-level health workers are actively raising awareness through door-to-door visits as well as using technology to maximise their reach. While technology plays a vital role in expanding the reach of the intervention, the vital human connect is crucial in case of prenatal and postnatal support. More than 250 community-level health workers including doctors, Anganwadi accelerators, ASHA workers and ANMs are working to inform community members including children and pregnant women about the importance of social distancing, having a nutritious meal and washing hands as frequently as possible. Starting with monthly meetings, 20-30 ASHA workers and ANMs are being trained in a staggered manner at the local municipal office so that social distancing can be maintained at the primary health centres. These women then go door-to-door and provide information to the expecting mothers on the importance of immunisation, a balanced diet, how to practice safe measures during lockdown, post-natal care etc.  To maximise the information and awareness about the coronavirus, Anganwadi accelerators have now made posters on Covid-19 awareness which they send to the Anganwadi Teachers, ASHAs, ANMs and Women Health Group members in the villages through WhatsApp. The Project Health Clinics have also stayed open for patients with all the staff wearing PPE kits for safety. The temperature of each patient coming to the clinic for the doctor’s consultation is measured and they are asked to wait for their turn by keeping proper social distance. Additionally, the health team at the clinic is ensuring every patient washes/sanitises their hands before entering the clinic. In villages where visits by the healthcare staff are not feasible, doctors are offering tele-consultation services via phones.Being safe and aware is a continuous effort and our project staff are regularly spreading awareness about protection from coronavirus, its symptoms and testing. At a time where staying inside our homes is one of the only ways to remain safe, the hardwork and dedication of the community-level health workers who are at the frontline is really commendable. 
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Good, Replicable Practices and Innovations under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) - (MJPJAY) as a Key Stakeholder

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) was launched on 02.07.2012. Earlier only 85% population was covered but under the universal scheme: As per GR dated 23.05.2020 now the entire 100%  state population is covered under MJPJAY. The Insurance cover per family per annum is 1.5 lakhs (2.5 lakhs for renal transplant)for MJPJAY & 5 lakhs for PMJAY. Network of Hospitals Total empanelled NWHs: 967 (287 Public & 680 private)Minimum 2 NWHs are being empanelled per talukaA (100%), B (90%) & C (80%) grades for multispecialty and A (100%) & B (90%) grades for single specialty‘A’ grade with 100% rate allotted to all the Public HospitalsHospitals in neighboring states are being empanelledOne grade higher to the hospitals in tribal, hilly and aspirational districts (Osmanabad, Gadchiroli, Nandurbar & Washim)Number of beds required for empanelment brought down     from 30 to 20 beds for hospitals in tribal, hilly and aspirational districtsBest practices and innovations 100% packages are preauth basedAround 98% Preauths & Claims are processed within stipulated TAT of 12 hours and 15 working days respectivelyRs.63.78 crore unspent IEC amount was recovered from insurance company in June 2018Premium rate per family per annum was brought down from Rs.690 to Rs.640 in Feb.2019Appointed Super Specialists  & Specialists to review the cases to prevent the fraud and abuse of the packagesClinical Protocols for evidence based treatment/package selectionEvidence based adjudication guidelines and mandatory investigations - for preuth and claims processingFollow-up Medicines to eligible beneficiaries till 1 year2 Tier monitoring SystemArogyamitras deployed by TPAs in each NWH to assist the beneficiariesHealth Camps to create awareness about the schemeChairmanship of Central claims committee, Empanelment Committee & Preauth technical committee is with SHASRegular visits to NWHs by CEO, SHAS and other officials from SHAS, Insurance Company &  TPAsBiometric attendance System for monitoring  of the field & PO teamPeriodic rotation of Arogyamitra from hospitals to hospitalsPeriodic rotations of SHAS field officersStringent fraud deterrence process.Social Audit Mechanism- Beneficiary Feedback MechanismPre-recorded voice message of Hon.Chief MinisterSMSes are sent to all beneficiaries in local language at various stages during the hospitals stayDynamic Grading of the Hospitals- Package rates linked to Grade so as to maintain the quality24X7 dedicated Call Centre with 32 lines monitored by SHAS & 24X7 Grievance redressal systemHosting web services on Cloud EnvironmentRe-appeal system for claims rejection & deductionRefund of excess premium from Insurance Company, if ICR is blow 85%3 separate open e tenders were floated: Insurance Company, Call centre & IT CompanyTransparency In Processes24X7 Online Preauthorization & Claims SettlementsEmergency Telephonic Intimation Service – For emergency Treatment (Accidental treatment, CVTS,   Cardiology Treatment)Technical Committee to review rejected preauthsRepudiation & Central Claim Monitoring System (Amount approved in CCM is around Rs.16 crore)Online Empanelment Process Coordination Empanelment Disciplinary CommitteeCOVID 19 CareTotal 20 packages under Pulmonology, Critical care, Nephrology & Pediatric Medical ManagementTill date 3378 COVID positive patients have availed benefit under the integrated schemeCharges of private hospitals restricted as per the notification dated 21.05.2020 (80% regulated beds and 20% non-regulated  beds)CEO, SHAS is monitoring authority in the state for the implementation of the notification dated 21.05.2020In response to the notification dated 21.05.2020 till date 65 grievances have been received and resolved. Due to intervention of SHAS till date Rs.13,37,578 waived off from the bill amount/ reimbursed  back to the patient’s familyCommittee chaired by CEO, SHAS finalized the COVID 19  test cost : Cost brought down to Rs.2200 from Rs.4500Emergency Telephonic Intimation (ETI) provided to maximum cases in the light of lockdown amidst COVID 19 pandemicIn ETI cases limit of 5 working days extended up to 70 days for submission of documentsPhoto copies of ration card & photo ID and images received on WhatsApp are also acceptedRation card generated through website of the website of Food &  Civil Supplies department is also consideredAround 500 additional hospitals empanelled in the first week of April 2020210+ COVID hospitalsFree COVID test in empanelled hospitals under scheme packagesGovernment  to acquire private ambulances/ vehicles and fix transport charges for such acquired ambulances for citizensUpdates as on 23.05.2020Universal scheme: MJPJAY scheme benefits extended to  the families who don’t have any ration cardFamilies who don’t hold any ration card can avail benefit on the basis of domicile certificate/Tehsildar certificate along with valid photo IDCEO, SHAS has an authority to relax the documents required for availing the scheme benefits120 Government reserved procedures opened for private hospitalsAdditional 67 diagnostic, minor & major procedures for private hospitals (includes procedures like Delivery, Caesarian section,  ECG, X ray, 2D Echo, Endoscopy, USG etc.)
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Good, Replicable Practices and Innovations under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY)- VIDAL HEALTH as a Key Stakeholder

Started in 2002, Vidal Health has become an integrated healthcare services player catering to the entire healthcare value chain capable of addressing of healthcare markets across the globe, We are among the leading providers of Third Party Administration (TPA) Services with our strong medical expertise, existing state of art technology for risk assessment and administration; provide outstanding customer service by delivering an end-to-end solution for Claims Administration & other business features for our customers and end users Health being a state subject, different states had different arrangements for healthcare delivery for the needy unaffordable population, till a common system through AB PMJAY was introduced in 2018. AB PMJAY provided the broad governing principles and framework, with states free to choose their implementation models, necessitating mutual analysis and exchange of best practices through the now available common platform called NHA to provide the best possible benefit to the beneficiaries.Backed by long term experience in running various State Schemes, the best practices of different states under the aegis of AB PMJAY have been brought together to aid in improvisation of practices and replication wherever necessary. Preauth & Claim processing forms the core of any Scheme, with best practices such as strict adherence to established protocols, preventing experimental treatments, double check of qualifications of Doctors certifying the investigation reports and administering treatment, mandatory procedure videos for interventions such as PTCA, Clinical Photos with Insurance Coordinators to prevent fraudulence in cyclical cases such as Dialysis, calling all patients to ensure the genuineness of their symptoms/treatment. The success of any mass Scheme lies in accessible, efficient, quick and humane Grievance redressal mechanism. For instance, the Monday 3pm Grievance meet of Tamil Nadu Scheme is widely acclaimed, this is supplemented by monthly Hospital Nodal Officers’ Meets, Need More Info meets to clear pending queries. Audit & Abuse Control mechanism plays a major role in preventing fraud and ensures that only genuine claims are paid for. Inputs from varied sources such as Inbuilt Triggers in the portal, Preauth & Claim Processing teams, Field audit teams, concurrent & post claim audit, interaction of Insurance Coordinators with patients, verification till the last detail such as Hospital Pharmacy stock registers, hospital infrastructure audits Viz Dialysis Unit, Cath Lab, attendance registers etc supplemented by periodic evaluation and training aid in payment of genuine Claims and corrective action against erring hospitals. A Hospital grading system (in addition to NABH accreditation) based on available infrastructure with corresponding package rates and payments, motivates hospitals to climb up the Grading ladder and upgrade their infrastructure to provide better services to beneficiaries in the long term. Advanced treatment packages such as PTCA, CABG, TKR, THR, Transplants etc. may be enabled only after the hospital provides evidence of positive outcomes.  Serving wide geographical areas wherein natural calamities are common, Crisis preparedness and provision of seamless services during natural disasters achieves the objective of best service irrespective of the nature of crisis. Continuation of services in coordination with beneficiaries, Hospitals and Government authorities was witnessed most recently in the current Covid 19 pandemic wherein patients requiring cyclical treatment Viz Dialysis, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy etc. haven’t missed their treatment schedules and thousands of Health Camps were coordinated. Knowledge is a treasure but yields fruits only on practice. Innovation and strategizing is done on a continuous basis, churning out Best practices to tackle state specific challenges. With our long-term experience in handling different state Schemes and Schemes abroad, we cross pollinate the best practices across various states for best outcomes, ensuring the best of health to all eligible beneficiaries. 
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AI-powered DRISHTI for ensuring Social Distancing Norms detecting Face Mask Violations and Crowd Management

AI-powered Drishti for ensuring Social DistanceDRISHTI is an AI driven indigenous, innovative and plug & play solution relying on Real Time Image recognition and Video Processing and is capable of detecting the instances of violations of Social Distancing, Face Mask wearing and if the number of persons at a place are more than the threshold values.To contain the spread of COVID-19, the Central government announced lockdown measures in four phases and the citizens were advised to stay at home. Detailed guidelines were issued for permitting different activities in different phases of lockdown with a focused approach to mitigate the spread of disease. For providing the much needed thrust to resume the economic activities, India has initiated the process of unlocking, the Unlocking Phase-1 started from June 1st, 2020 with number of activities permitted outside containment zones. With country now in unlock phase and normal activities to become a ubiquitous norm again in many parts, certain measures like Social Distancing, mandatory face masks in public places and self-awareness are going to play a pivotal role in keeping citizens of India safe.Technology-driven innovations and solutions amid the COVID-19 situation have helped India to handle and contain the pandemic in a way better than many other countries. Now the task of ensuring social distancing norms, face mask and crowd management in the new normal is going to be the most crucial one in the fight against the pandemic for India. Next-gen technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Image-recognition may be leveraged for enforcing and maintaining Social Distancing and for detection of violations of mandatory face masks in public places.DRISHTIThe timely Lockdown in the country has helped to contain the pandemic at a level, now the Technology driven enforcement and monitoring of the social-distancing norms has the potential to put India ahead in global scenario again. A team of young Officers of Indian Telecommunication Service (ITS) took the challenge to design a comprehensive system using the Next-Gen technologies and DRISHTI (Digital Real Time Artificial Intelligence System for maintaining Social Distancing with Timely Intervention) is born. DRISHTI is an AI-based system having Tri-Netras (three digital eyes) – first for detecting social distancing violations, second for Face Mask related violations and third for checking the count of persons present at a public place to maintain gathering within permissible limits.DRISHTI is an AI driven indigenous, innovative and plug & play solution relying on Real Time Image recognition and Video Processing and is capable of detecting the instances of violations of Social Distancing, Face Mask wearing and if the number of persons at a place are more than the threshold values. This in case of violations generates live alarms and announcements at the public places like Airports, Railway Stations, Bus Terminals, Hospitals, Crowded market places and in Public transport. DRISHTI will provide much needed live feedback and alerts to public to stay at a minimum of 6 feet (2 गज की दूरी) distance from each other, to wear face masks and not to over crowd the public places.As per Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD)-2019 reports, India has more than 4.27 Lakh CCTV cameras available with the Police across the country. Moreover, the total number of CCTV cameras installed in public places is approx. 10 Lakh. The tier-1 cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune have the largest number of CCTV cameras.DRISHTI utilizes the existing CCTV camera ecosystem and works on 3-pronged approach. It takes the feed of any CCTV camera installed at public places in the real time, identifies all the persons frame by frame through Image/Video processing and utilises the potential of Artificial Intelligence to develop a real time picture of distance among all the persons captured in the frame. The Engine calculates the Real Time distances among all the persons and raises alarm if the distance between any two persons goes below permissible Social Distance limit.Further it checks whether a person is wearing Face Mask or not while entering a public place like Airport, Railway station, Hospital, and Shopping malls utilising the concepts of facial features recognition.Moreover, it also provides a check on the number of persons entering and exiting a public place for enforcing real time technology driven crowd management e.g. if number of persons in a shopping mall should not be greater than 100. This in turn will trigger the Public Addressing System to generate an announcement/alarm in real time to the public present at the place as well as to the authorities there to take immediate action for violations.DRISHTI: Features and Use-casesAn integrated – comprehensive solution to ensure Social Distancing norms in Public Places like Airports, Railway Stations, Bus Terminals, Hospitals, Crowded market places and Public transport etc. to strengthen the fight against COVID-19. DRISHTI can detect the compliance of Social Distancing norms, face mask norms and number of persons allowed at entry- exit and assembly points of Industrial organization, factories, work-places, Malls, Super-markets, Cinema halls, Metro trains, PDS and grocery shops and other areas. An indigenous,open and zero cost platform designed by a team of ITS Officers.Plug and play solution which can be locally hosted in the CCTV controller of Public place CCTVs, making it ready to deploy and easy to use. Real time Public Addressing System alerting public and authorities to take prompt action for cases of violation of Social Distancing norms.Integrating the conventional CCTV and Public Addressing system with DRISHTI will bolster the effective monitoring of Social Distancing with minimal human intervention. Snapshots from live videos- captured analyzed and reported for Social Distancing Norms Violations by DRISHTIConclusion and way forwardTeam DRISHTI strongly feels that the indigenous innovative solution may play a vital role in assisting the Governments at different levels, Local administration, Police authorities and Private organizations in leveraging the Next-Gen technologies like AI and Image recognition for Tech-driven enforcement of Social Distancing norms, norms of wearing face mask and crowd management as India enters a new normal in unlocking phase with a focussed approach on resuming the economic activities. Further this will not only provide impetus to authorities for ensuring safety norms at public places but also will make the people of country more responsible and alert as they don’t want an alarm to be rung on their carelessness.The authors are Officers of Indian Telecommunication Service. Views expressed are personal.
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Coir Bhoovastra: Kerala’s water bodies go through a makeover during monsoon

With nature at a new risk every day, Kerala has taken the astounding initiative of giving their canals and streams a new kind of makeover. The makeover will use eco- friendly cloth to drape over their banks. The cloth will stop erosion during the season of monsoon. Kerala the Land of Coconuts, have been technologically innovating with Coconut over many decades. Some of the innovations attempted have been very successful with an aim to sustain it in a profitable way. It has been proved generations ago that the husk of a coconut has long fibers that could be spun and woven into ropes, mats and nets.The tensile strength of these ropes are simply great. This simple idea of its tensile strength has been taken into account for processing them into GeoTextiles that could be used for covering eroding landscapes that could help further inundation. These Coir Geotextiles are also called Coir Bhoovastra. These were actually used in 2019 to cover slopes, streams bunds, canals and river banks and they are been proved great for slope stabilization. These kinds of work will also provide livelihoods to people.Coir Bhoovastra is a natural earth cover made from coconut fiber. It can be spread over the walls of streams, bunds, farms and ponds during rains. The bhoovastra retains the earth’s moisture and protects the roots of the plants.Another interesting thing about this concept is that it also disintegrates in 5-6 years enriching the soil and promoting vegetation growth. Since, it has so many benefits, Kerala has spread the bhoovastra on scores of its canals and streams, which has provided a fillip to the slackening coir industry and securing the lives of more than 2 lakh families who depend on coir making a traditional job in the state.It looks like a golden river-bank, but it is so much more than that.The story has taken inspiration from the video posted by The News Minute. Link -
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