Dr. Piyush Ranjan Rout
Two months after Chinese authorities locked down the city at the center of the country’s coronavirus outbreak Wuhan City, the end is in sight. As Hubei province lifted inbound as well as outbound travel restrictions into and out of the capital city Wuhan by ending 76day Lockdown that began on January 23rd 2020, have transformed the global dynamics. While now world’s 3.5 billion or half of the global population one way or other are locked inside their home.
In the last few weeks, COVID-19 has spread to well over 190 countries in a global pandemic that has killed more than one lakh people. Countries from Italy, Spain to the United States and Iran are struggling to contain the virus, with large cities shutting down schools and public places, or issuing stay-home orders.
The world is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, and some countries are reeling more than others. But Germany seems to be taking the epidemic in its stride with a high number of cases but a low number of deaths, thanks to a number of factors like massive testing, isolation and social distancing, just like South Korea and Taiwan.
Even recently World Health Organisation (WHO) independently started using the term “physical distancing” by explaining “We’re changing to say ‘physical distance,’ and that’s on purpose because we want people to still remain connected,” said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove in the organization’s March 20 daily press briefing.
Well Social distancing, which refers to creating physical space between one another and avoiding large gatherings, comes from public health and epidemiology lexicon. While some believes the semantics are misleading. As some people think the term social distancing literally sounds like, ‘If I had friendships before, it’s time to hunker down. Or, if I were a member of a church or synagogue, it’s time to pray by myself,’ ”. “But the COVID19 order is going to be around for a while, and everyone need to feel connected.”
So do Cities, Nations across the globe are asking residents to stay at home for effective use of social distancing tool as local governments issued shutting down of “non-essential” businesses to close including pubs, restaurants, parks, stadiums and leisure centers not for a world war rather safeguarding residents of respective cities from infections.
Well the comparison between Bhubaneswar and Chinese city Wuhan at this moment doesn’t hold any ground baring two points first Wuhan celebrated it’s New Year Spring festival in Lockdown so do Bhubaneswar will celebrate it’s foundation day as well as Odia New Year in Lockdown. Second Wuhan city to build a brand-new hospital with 1,000 beds in just six days while Bhubaneswar build 900 bed hospital in fifteen days time.
What is striking these days is most urban planners don’t plan a city with the idea of sealing it off, rather many do plan for the other way making cities as socially inclusive than social distancing attractive for tourist, entrepreneur, sports, jobs etc, so do Wuhan with 11 million and Bhubaneswar with 1.2 million population have build the city over years but suddenly found themselves in lockdown. Wuhan became famous for fast growing coronavirus outbreak that put the city under quarantine and Bhubaneswar just became a hotspot in Odisha for coronavirus, that people began comparing Bhubaneswar with Wuhan.
Wuhan is a major Chinese transportation center, with high-speed rail lines connect to Shanghai and Guangzhou (cities with populations of 24 million and 13 million people, respectively). While city’s Tianhe International Airport also serves more than 20 million passengers annually. Comparing Bhubaneswar won’t stand any merits even though it has rail links with New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai etc and having an international airport yet it’s statistics doesn’t match between both city.
What surprises in Bhubaneswar is even though human beings biggest desire is to build a own dream house to settle inside having good memories, that’s why they work hard, invest heavily but during recent lockdown when govt as well as employer asking them to stay in home then why these humans are roaming on the street like Animals? Bhubaneswar is not exception.
The question was, Is there some fault in Urban Planning, Architecture, Interior Design? Or People are not happy inside four walls under a roof? Or Balcony, Terrace, Windows, seems like not giving desire views of neighbors or neighborhood in Bhubaneswar, Perhaps COVID19 is a wake-up call for those involved in Building industry including Urban Planners, Architect’s, Engineer, Interior Designer, Investors etc. As who know how many lockdown or shutdown will require along with Quarantine, Isolation etc without absence of medicine.
Right now fifty percent of world population both living in rural & urban are lockdown. Because It’s not about individual life rather free movement may risk not necessarily individuals, but individual could be risking someone else’s life.
While more than 1.3 Billion People, is Now Under Coronavirus Lockdown in India during the three-week period, no Indian citizen will be allowed to leave their home to socialize or work, except those working in health care, law enforcement, media, and other essential services in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Odisha on the other side is in the forefront addressing COVID19 with going Lockdown ahead of nation, had incentives for foreign return registration, setup state of the art medical facilities to deal with any challenges in line with Wuhan model. But the question is will Bhubaneswar need 76 days of strict Lockdown like in Wuhan or it will have different story as the capital city going to observe it’s foundation day in Lockdown, that was something never imagined by its founder.
But with Boarder Locked Govt could have isolated those 0ne Lakh or so on arrival from Other states and foreign soil for fifteen days within Govt. surveillance than allowing them for self isolation, which latter put the Govt. in down stream to trace them as few didn’t follow the instructions nor informed the government about their arrival from abroad or domestic.
As a result we have whole state locked down with four crore inside somewhere or other. This because Odisha did it’s preparedness way ahead of others but end up with other methods of locking down everyone even though state is locked, like virtually a Communist model implemented by Chinese is now model for whole Democratic World including Odisha.
What really should be considered in urban planning of future Bhubaneswar is how city could provide the best even in worst situations, like building most efficient healthcare facilities to residents, perhaps a quarantine is really something that city should make a priority when planing Smart City.
Perhaps state missed an Best Practices opportunity for the World like not following South Korea, Germany, Taiwan and Singapore model. Yes chasing statistics or comparing cities like Bhubaneswar, Jeypur, Puri, Sambalpur with Rome, New York etc may look goody goody way of fear than scientific way of solving the situations.
Yes be it Odisha or Bhubaneswar must move beyond old theory into setting Best practices.
Dr. Piyush Ranjan Rout is an urban planner cum urban management practitioner. He can be reached on Twitter @piyushrout