THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fund and resource crunch loom over the Covid relief activities in the capital as the civic authorities struggle with multiplying caseload every day. Efforts are on at a snail’s pace to reinstate and strengthen the Rapid Response Team (RRT) at the ward level which is crucial for streamlining the relief activities. As of Thursday, the civic body had conducted RRT meetings in 82 wards and volunteers have been deployed in 52.
Though the state government has directed the local bodies to start community kitchens to assist families affected by the pandemic, the corporation here has no plan to start one owing to the fund crunch. The opposition councillors have come out with a strong criticism against the ruling front and have demanded the corporation to start community kitchens.
“Everyone was aware of the third wave and the government was properly warned by the Centre. All these preparations should have been done a couple of weeks ago. The corporation started taking the necessary steps only after the third wave hit the state. The relief activities are getting affected as the civic body is ill-prepared to take on the third wave. People are not getting help on time as claimed by the authorities,” said Karamana Ajith, ward councillor. He said it’s been several months since the civic body hasn’t cleared dues for RRT volunteers.
“If they didn’t have the money they shouldn’t have offered remuneration for RRT volunteers. It’s unfair that the ruling front is releasing funds only for LDF wards,” Ajith added. It is learnt that the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) owes around Rs 2 crore to the corporation for Covid-related activities.
“We are utilising own fund for meeting expenses related to Covid. On average, we are spending Rs 5 lakh per day. We are receiving around 60 to 70 calls for patient transport and handling around 5 to 10 cremations daily. DDMA owes us funds but they don’t release it,” said a senior official of the corporation.
The official said the civic body has no plans to start a community kitchen.
“Community kitchens are not practical and we have to deploy more resources for running them. This will affect our other responsibilities. We have tied up with Kudumbashree’s Janakiya Hotels for making food available at `20 per meal. RRT volunteers can do the door delivery,” said, who added that a lot of corporation staff are down with Covid. “As of Tuesday, around 105 staff are positive and under isolation. We are running around three Covid First Line Treatment Centres (CFLTCs) with over 250 patients,” said the official.