CHENNAI: The city Corporation has raised tin sheets to keep homeless families in Gandhi Irwin road in Egmore from violating quarantine norms. However, it may have had the opposite effect.
On Tuesday, the tin sheets were raised by Corporation staff after around 10 members in the stretch tested positive. These tin sheets are in between the pavement and the road and do not have a roof to protect them from rain or sun. There are around 45 families in the stretch, the men of which mostly worked as load men and are now out of jobs.
However, ever since the sheets were raised, the families are forced to sit outside their containment areas in tin sheets to get some air and ward off the mosquitoes. Moreover, some people have even shifted away from the place for fear of Corporation staff coming back and 'taking them away', said residents there.
"Initially Corporation staff took away (to Covid Care Centres) about 10 people who they said were positive. Immediately after that, they raised the tin sheets. Now, a few others got scared that they might be
taken away too and they left the place," said Kumar (name changed), a resident of the stretch.
Asked if their names were recorded by Corporation staff to keep track of the number of people under quarantine, residents said no such count was taken. Home quarantine stickers were found pasted in front of some houses.
"We and our children also find it impossible to sleep at nights within the tin confinement because it does not let the wind from the speeding vehicles get to us and the mosquitoes get trapped with us. So we sleep
outside it," Kumar added.
Residents said they use the railway tracks for defecating or a paid public toilet which may further aid in the spread of infection. In addition, they claim that they have not received rations or food from the Corporation after they were quarantined and turn to NGOs for help.
Express had earlier reported in March that homeless families were quarantined in the streets by Corporation. Four months later, activists question why a protocol for homeless individuals was not in
"A protocol on what should be done when a homeless individual tests positive, should be in place. Their families and contacts should be shifted to a transit shelter with basic amenities," said Vanessa
Peter, Policy Researcher Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities.
When contacted, a Corporation official said that the city Corporation staff would make sure that they have access to food and other essentials.
"Those who are tested Covid positive among the homeless families are immediately shifted to care centres or hospitals. From other sections, there is resistance to be moved from time to time so we make arrangements where they are."