“Overhead water tank cleaned after a year and six months”

Neglect has resulted in the outbreak of a “mysterious fever” suspected to be dengue in Ulaganathapuram Adi Dravidar Colony at Aatukulam village coming under Melur taluk.

The Dalit habitation has been almost neglected by the local administration as the villagers complained that the overhead water tank meant for drinking was cleaned after almost a year and six months.

A suspected dengue outbreak has forced all members of the colony, most of whom are daily wagers, stay at home under medication. At least 150 of them are affected by the mysterious fever and found waiting in a queue to get checked and receive their dose of pills.

Nagarajan (30) said that 15 days ago two persons complained of fever and severe pain in the joints and difficulty in breathing. After a few days, almost half of the colony was found to complain of the same symptoms.

The reason villagers cited was unclean water. They complained that the overhead tank was cleaned on Tuesday after almost a gap of one year and six months.

It was on Wednesday, after the District Collector Anshul Mishra visited the colony, a mobile clinic from Vellalur was found conducting health check-up. Fumigation was also done throughout the village.

Mr. Anshul Mishra advised the villagers to keep their surroundings clean and assured that the Health Department officials would take care of the situation.

S. Senthil Kumar, Deputy Director of Health Services, who was present at the village, told The Hindu that 24 old cases of fever had recovered and 12 new cases, including two children, were referred outside. “Everybody is found to be stable and a couple of them have been referred to the Melur Government Hospital. Seven samples have been sent for laboratory tests to ascertain whether it is dengue, chikungunya or leptospirosis,” he said.

Overhead water tank was cleaned and chlorinated and anti-larval measures were taken to contain breeding of mosquitoes. Mass cleaning work had been planned for Friday and Mr. Anshul Mishra had asked the local administration staff to support the health officials, he said.

The villagers alleged that the colony had no hand pumps and none of streetlights were burning. The person who beat the tom-tom to inform villagers about supply of oil and other items in fair price shop the previous day of distribution never came to the Dalit colony.

The residents were not informed about gram sabha meetings.

They alleged that wage under the MNREGS, fixed at Rs.130, was not paid to them. “All that we get are Rs.60 to Rs.80 and water tax is deducted from the wages without our knowledge,” complained a woman.

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