With the COVID-19 crisis escalating in India, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ Swachhata app is now allowing people to report any violations of quarantine and lockdown, along with suspected COVID-19 cases. People can also report others for not wearing a mask in ‘hotspot’ areas, for breaking social distancing norms, and for unregulated disposal of COVID-19 waste. The app is available on both Android and iOS.

The app has over 17 million users, who can also request fogging/sanitation, medicine, food, shelter, transport for COVID-19 patients, and waste pick-up from quarantined areas. Requests for food, shelter, medicine, transport will be forwarded to the concerned agency, shop, vendor, or NGO and the citizen will be informed, and will be followed up and monitored for final disposal.

The revised app was launched by MoHUA secretary Durga Shanker Mishra yesterday via a video conference on COVID-19 with all states, union territories, and cities. Swachh Bharat state mission directors and urban local body representatives were also present at the video conference. The pilot version of the revised app was shared with select states and cities, and has been launched after their feedback.

 

Launched in 2014, the Swachhata app is a municipality services app covering areas falling under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). It accepts reports and complaints of open manholes, construction debris, stagnant water, etc., which are then handled by the urban local bodies, such as municipal corporations. The app is available in 8 Indian languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Tamil.

  • All complaints can be monitored at the Swachh.city dashboard in the same manner as the ULBs monitor other complaints on Swachhata App, on: www.swachh.city
  • People can continue posting complaints on the existing issues, which will be taken care of by the Urban Local Bodies.
  • If violations of quarantine or lockdown is being managed by police or district administration, the urban local bodies can inform the authorities about the specific complaint, and reply may accordingly be given on the Swachhata app.

MediaNama’s take: People can already complain to the government about lockdown and quarantine violations on the Union Health Ministry’s helpline. The app has the potential to increase vigilantism against citizens, this needs to considered especially given the rising stigma around being COVID-19 positive, and the rise in hate against Muslims after the Nizamuddin hotspot emerged in Delhi.

For instance, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, and Nagpur have made wearing masks mandatory in public spaces. The app allows easy complaints for this in ‘hotspot’ areas, but what about somebody who can not afford a mask?