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Covid volunteers: Running errands, booze duty and what not!

Four of the seven volunteers Express spoke to said they were asked to pick up alcohol.

Published: 23rd May 2021 04:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd May 2021 04:23 AM   |  A+A-

Chennai cops check motorists on GST road and seize the vehicles plying without proper reasons as lockdown is underway on Friday. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

Chennai cops check motorists on GST road and seize the vehicles plying without proper reasons during the lockdown (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Volunteers engaged by the city corporation, mainly to ensure that residents in home isolation after testing positive for Covid do not flout quarantine norms and have access to essentials, say they are sometimes on the receiving end of unreasonable demands.

Karthikeyan (name changed), who works in the Kodambakkam zone of the Chennai corporation, said that he had been asked to purchase alcohol by positive residents, more than once. “I obliged and bought it for them. But, they contacted the zonal control room and filed a false complaint that I was unwilling to help. I don’t want that to happen again,” he said.

Four of the seven volunteers Express spoke to said they were asked to pick up alcohol. “I refused and they immediately picked up a fight with me. But I was firm and informed superiors in the office,” said a volunteer from the Alandur zone.

A few others said they were asked to buy groceries but residents refused to hand them the money. “They say the government is supposed to provide them essentials free of cost because they are suffering from Covid. All they want is for us to get them groceries somehow,” says Santhosh (name changed), a volunteer from Anna Nagar area.

Karthikeyan said residents are also reluctant to hand them money when they want essentials, for fear of not getting back the balance amount. The volunteers are asked to go twice to the shops ­once to enquire about the rates and then to actually buy the produce because then the residents could hand them the exact change. A volunteer working in Kilpauk says he was asked to deliver homemade dishes a relative had made for a patient. The relative resides about seven kilometres away.

Hired on a temporary basis, these volunteers are paid Rs 391 a day, a chunk of which goes towards fuel expenses. “I’m allotted about 15 streets, of which 14 have Covid cases. Many houses call us three to four times a day instead of sending us the list all at once and making our jobs easier. However, there are 
also a few who plan in advance and are sensitive to our limitations as volunteers,” says Karthikeyan.

*Names of volunteers and divisions they work at have been withheld to protect their identities

In volunteers’ shoes...
Residents are reluctant to hand them money when they want essentials, for fear of not receiving balance cash. The volunteers are asked to go twice to the shops ­



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