Cases of fever have erupted in Ayanavaram, where stagnant water, garbage and mosquitoes swarming about are a common sight.
A few weeks ago, Nalini John and her husband, residents of 2nd Street, Nehruji Jothi Nagar, had a difficult time when both of them fell ill with fever. Even before they could fully recover, their 11-year-old daughter also fell sick.
“It has been a week since my daughter fell ill, and she has still not recovered. Most of us on this street have fallen ill, one after another. There are mosquitoes here morning, noon and night,” said Nalini.
Several residents in the area said their family members had constantly suffered from fever and joint pain over the last two months.
Gopi, another resident of the street, has not fully recovered and still complains of swollen knees and legs. “My joints still ache and I can only walk very slowly,” she said.
These residents, along with those on First Street, said living alongside the Ekangipuram Nullah is a nightmare.
“The canal, which is linked to Otteri Nullah, was desilted about three weeks ago. But it is clogged with garbage now and the water is stagnating. As a result, it has turned into a mosquito breeding ground, and poses a health risk,” said S. Lawrence, secretary of Nehruji Jothi Nagar Samooga Seerthirutha Sangam.
The parapet wall of the canal was demolished at several places to enable Chennai Corporation workers to take up the desilting work, he said.
“The canal is now open at several places and this leads to indiscriminate dumping of garbage. We have repeatedly requested the Corporation to construct an 8-ft.-high wall to prevent dumping. If there is no waste, the water will flow and mosquito breeding can be prevented,” he added.
The stench from the canal is unbearable said Kasturi, another resident.
The area’s drinking water pipeline runs near the canal and often, dirty water is mixed with drinking water, said R. Bose, president of the Sangam. “The water from the hand pumps is discoloured and not potable. This also leads to health problems,” he said.
Corporation health officials said the canal was in bad shape and measures were being taken to clean it. However, they said mosquitoes from the canal were only a minor nuisance.
“Only two cases of fever have been reported from the area and there is no outbreak,” an official said.
S. Pushparaj, councillor of ward 71, under which the area falls, said there was official apathy towards the locality. “Several cases of fever have been reported but the authorities are not bothering to do anything about it,” he said.