A ‘defunct’ tractor pressed into battle against the virus
Having restored the vehicle, the Perumbakkam Village Panchayat is using it to carry out disinfection exercises
At one end of the panchayat office premises in Perumbakkam on Medavakkam-Perumbakkam Main Road, a defunct Mahindra tractor had been lying idle for over a decade.
Mangled steel chairs and broken wooden tables added to the picture of squalor.
The children in the neighbourhood were able to look beyond that, seeing only a machine that could take them on a mock but exciting journey.
They would take turns to park themselves on the driver’s seat and test their “driving skills”.
Recently, this vehicle got a fresh lease of life, thanks to officials of the Perumbakkam Village Panchayat.
They restored the defunct tractor and started using it to disinfect the streets and houses in the neighbourhood as the existing method of disinfecting the locality using share autorickshaws mounted with motor pumpsets proved time- consuming and cost-intensive.
“Using a tractor helps us disinfect more areas in the neighbourhood in less time, particularly making it possible to cover thickly-populated residential sections, the ready and apt example being the Housing Board quarters,” says N. Murugan, secretary, Perumbakkam Village Panchayat, and points out that an additional tractor would soon roll into the picture.
The disinfectant tractor is mounted with motor pumpsets with hose pipes in opposite directions. The tractor covers at least two localities in the neighbourhood, which has 28 colonies including the Tamil Nadu Housing Board quarters. The tractor has two syntax tanks with a capacity of 2,000 litres each. Of the 80 streets, the tractor, on an average, covers 10 streets every day.
“Nearly 30 multi-storey apartment complexes in the neighbourhood are also disinfected,” says Murugan.
With the surge in COVID-19 cases, the village panchayat that has 28,000 families within a two-kilometre radius has been taking up various measures to check the spread of the virus. A permanent vaccination camp is being run at the Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Perumbakkam with a team of 12 medical staff including the duty doctor, Dr. Gayathri. The panchayat, along with the existing health team, has also roped in 20 conservancy staff within its limits to focus on preventive measures which include spraying disinfectants, door-to-door fever checks, swab tests and awareness programmes about checking the spread of the virus.