Gangtok: COVID-19 makes you desperate. When there is a person gasping for oxygen, you reach out to anyone you can for help. Social media has been buzzing with people coming to each other’s aid in such otherwise unfortunate times.
While the COVID-19 situation in Sikkim is not as alarming as what some of the metro cities are going through right now, there’s something to be concerned about.
Sikkim’s helpline numbers don’t work.
So far, the state government has not taken any concrete steps to ensure that helpline numbers such as 102, 104, or those of ambulance or the police station work.
Enter Kushan Zulca. This young entrepreneur from Sikkim has been helping people in times of need, so much so that he has become the real, go-to ‘helpline’.
Zulca, who has 13,500 followers on Instagram, often uses his social media accounts to sensitise people about various issues gripping the state. He has been regular with COVID-19 updates as well. Seeing this, people have started to reach out to him for help.
Speaking with EastMojo, the 25-year-old said, “People are increasingly reaching out to me on Instagram to ask me about the pandemic and for emergencies. This is because the numbers provided by the government do not work.”
Some of the people needing aid or reaching out to helpline numbers have died before they could get any help.
Also read: Sikkim on 10-day lockdown starting May 6
“It was absolutely traumatising as I felt helpless. I tried finding the numbers that would work from friends, family members and even online, but they were of no use,” he said.
Zulca, an alumnus of Taktse International School, has the entrepreneurial mind to find solutions. “We started a page on Instagram as well as on Facebook called ‘Sikkim COVID-19 Resources’ [@sikkimcovid19] to spread awareness about covid-19 and share available resources,” he added.
On the repeated failure of response from the state’s devoted helpline numbers, the Zulca said: “The state should start a dedicated 24/7 Covid response helpline immediately or hand over the responsibility to capable volunteers or entrepreneurs who can do this. The state also should deploy government vehicles as COVID-19 and non-COVID ambulances. Tourist vehicles can also be hired on a payment basis.”
Taking the onus on himself and a few like-minded youngsters, Kushan said, “If the government wants, we have many young entrepreneurs ready to volunteer and who would like to contribute with tech solutions. We can also set up a call centre and manage it.”