Chennai Corporation draws flak for barricading the homeless

A Corporation removes a tin sheet barricading the pavement dwellers in Egmore.

A Corporation removes a tin sheet barricading the pavement dwellers in Egmore.  

Activists expressed shock over the manner in which the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has put up tin sheets along the pavement on Gandhi Irwin Road near Egmore Railway Station to quarantine the primary contacts of homeless persons who tested positive for COVID-19 recently.

There are over 45 homeless families living on the pavement on Gandhi Irwin Road. Most of them work as loaders for omni buses, but were jobless now in the wake of lockdown.

On Tuesday, around 10 of them tested positive for COVID-19. “Some officials came and placed the tin sheets along the pavement where we live and pasted stickers with the Corporation’s logo on it. However, we are able to go out and come in. There is no restriction on that,” said a homeless person.

However, the primary contacts do not stay on the platform after the tin sheets were placed.

“We are not able to sleep on the pavement after the sheets were placed. Now, most of us stay at the entrance of Egmore Railway Station. The Corporation did not come forward to give food after quarantining us. We have to rely on NGOs,” he said. They had been using the railway track as an open toilet.

“We are using a public toilet which is not cleaned properly. This poses a risk for us,” said another homeless person.

Meanwhile, activists said that the Corporation should have a protocol for handling homeless families.

‘Inhuman act’

Individual homeless persons were tested and were taken to a shelter if found negative. But there were no shelters for homeless families.

“It is inhuman to place tin sheets. Besides allowing primary contacts to move freely does not serve the quarantine purpose,” said an activist.

An official said that some of the staff placed the sheets in a hurry to quarantine them. “They will be removed and the people will be taken to a shelter,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 6:57:14 PM |

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