Chennai

Urban local bodies don new roles in the time of COVID-19

For clean streets: Disinfectant being sprayed on Velachery Main Road in Chennai on Monday.

For clean streets: Disinfectant being sprayed on Velachery Main Road in Chennai on Monday.   | Photo Credit: B_VELANKANNI RAJ

Recently, the State government sanctioned around ₹ 31.4 crore for the urban local bodies to ensure smooth functioning of Amma Unavagams as part of its COVID-19 relief measures.

Urban local bodies are seeking to don new roles such as providers of vegetables and facilitators in arranging groceries for people, who are reeling under the impact of COVID-19.

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The Greater Chennai Corporation is even planning to offer mobile service of Amma Unavagams, low-cost canteens. “We have procured three vehicles and would be rolling out soon,” says G. Prakash, Commissioner of the local body. Conscious of the fact that bio-safety protocols have to be observed, Mr Prakash expresses the hope that once the service is launched, it will be “a big hit.”

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Recently, the State government sanctioned around ₹ 31.4 crore for the urban local bodies to ensure smooth functioning of Amma Unavagams as part of its COVID-19 relief measures.

The Chennai Corporation has been given ₹ 19.5 crore and other municipal corporations and municipalities - ₹ 11.9 crore. Totally, there are 654 Amma Unavagams in the State, of which Chennai has 407. In the city alone, around 4.5 lakh persons take food every day.

As in the case of Chennai, other municipal corporations and municipalities have been instructed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to provide three meals a day at Amma Unavagams. Till now, two meals a day are being served.

These urban local bodies have also started operating the mobile vegetable shops, thanks to their arrangement with local traders. One vehicle has been arranged for every ward. For the last four-five days, the service is on. A pack of vegetables, whose cost ranges from ₹ 100 to ₹ 150 depending upon the purchasing power of people in the localities, is being offered, says a senior official of the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration (CMA), adding that in places such as Tambaram and Pallavaram where there are 100 or 200 flats on one campus, there are takers for this kit.

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Besides, these local bodies have started linking up people with grocery shops by furnishing phone numbers of the shops to the former. The arrangement is that customers can place orders with the shops over the phone and the provisions are delivered at the doorstep of the people, the official points out.

For the benefit of people in Chennai, the Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crop, which is running mobile vegetable shops in different parts of the State in a modest way, also announced on Tuesday the creation of an online portal (www.ethottam.com) for buying fruits and vegetables. Once orders are placed, the commodities will be delivered to the address of customers either through the department or Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency (TAHODA).

In respect of the mobile shops in the city, the department is working together with Chennai Corporation and Chennai Metropolitan Development Agency (CMDA) for sourcing vegetables and mobilising vehicles and sales personnel, an official of the Department adds. Mr Prakash says that the local body is holding discussion with traders too.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 12:32:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/urban-local-bodies-don-new-roles-in-the-time-of-covid-19/article31281083.ece

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