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Corporation teams to dissuade guest workers from walking back home
The Greater Chennai Corporation has decided to form flying squads to identify guest workers who are walking to their home states and send them to relief centres. Officials said three such squads would be created, one each for north, central and south regions of the civic body.
“The rescued guest workers will be sent as per the availability of trains. We will provide food and shelter for them until they are sent home. Nodal officers will be appointed to coordinate the rescue,” the official said.
Out of desperation, several guest workers, mostly from Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, are returning to their hometowns on foot. Recently, Andhra Pradesh police found several guest workers walking on the road and brought them back to Tamil Nadu only to drop them on the State border. In another case, owner of a brick kiln in Tiruvallur allegedly assaulted 300 guest workers, who were employed as bonded labourers, for wanting to return home. It was brought to public attention after several NGOs took up the issue.
Data from the civic body suggest that more than 35,000 guest workers have so far been sent home by trains and buses from the city. “We have rescued 1,300 workers walking to their states. Besides this, several workers who have been staying at their workplaces are coming to relief centres. As on Wednesday, more than 4,500 workers are staying in the relief centres,” the official added.
However, activists claim that there are more than four lakh guest workers in the State, half of whom are in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu and Tiruvallur districts.
“Out of the two lakh workers, the Corporation had sent only 35,00. We need at least 20 trains daily to return all the workers. The government should use naval ships and army trucks to transport the workers. It should look at viable solutions, which they are not doing,” said R Geetha, advisor of Unorganised Workers’ Federation. She also opined that the government should have acted earlier in sending the workers home and added that State and central governments failed. “Though the bonded labours were rescued from Tiruvallur, officials sent them without issuing release certificate, which would result in them being denied benefits,” she added.
80 per cent active cases in seven zones
Measures taken by the Greater Chennai Corporation to control the spread of COVID-19 has so far proven inadequate, as the situation in seven zones is worsening with cases continuing to spike.
As per Corporation data, 4,438 of the 5,640 active cases in the city are from 7 of the 15 zones – Tondiarpet, Royapuram, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar, Anna Nagar, Teynampet, Kodambakkam and Valasaravakkam – or about 79 per cent of active cases as on Wednesday morning.
Of the 552 new cases recorded on Tuesday, 461 are from the seven zones. Royapuram added 151 new cases to take its total to 1,423 cases, while Tondiarpet had 113 new cases to take its tally to 723 cases.
With 1,137 total cases including 806 active ones, Kodambakkam is the worst affected zone after Royapuram. Thiru Vi Ka Nagar (900 active cases) has 564 active case, Anna Nagar (610) has 439, Teynampet (822) has 568, and Valasaravakkam (544) has 404 active cases. Apart from these seven, Adyar and Ambattur have 318 and 249 active cases respectively.
According to Corporation data, division 77 in Thiru Vi Ka Nagar has 124 to 242 case incidence per lakh population, which is the highest in the city. Ten divisions – 38, 50, 52, 56, 60, 68, 93, 127, 144 and 148 – have a case incidence of 41 to 124 per lakh population. Around 40 divisions have 14 to 41 cases per lakh population. The remaining divisions, mostly in South and North regions, have 0 to 14 case incidence. As on Wednesday, the city had 774 containment areas, of which 162 and 124 containment zones are in Royapuram and Thiru Vi Ka Nagar zones.
Overall, the city has 7,672 positive cases, of which 1,931 persons were cured, and 57 deaths.
165 sanitary inspectors appointed for Royapuram zone
Kick-starting the Chennai Corona Prevention programme, the Corporation has appointed 165 sanitary inspectors in Royapuram zone on Wednesday. The newly appointed sanitary inspectors would check residents in containment areas for symptoms such as cold, fever and cough. Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar launched the programme.”The sanitary inspectors would trace the contacts of affected persons,” said a statement from the civic body, adding that it would appoint 500 sanitary inspectors. The Corporation has also appointed 2,500 outreach workers, members of various NGOs, to coordinate COVID-19 prevention measures implemented by the civic body. “The outreach workers will create awareness among 25 lakh residents living in 1,979 slum areas on preventive measures. They would also identity vulnerable persons and assist them in availing medical care,” the release added.