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Salem struggles to contain chikungunya

R. Ilangovan

Civic body blamed for its failure to prevent the spread of viral fever



BEWARE OF ME: Protesting against the poor sanitary conditions in Salem city, activists of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) staging a demonstration in Salem on Monday. - Photo: P. Goutham

SALEM: Nearly half-a-lakh of the city's nine-lakh population are suffering from it. Blood samples of about 40,000 people have been collected and sent to various laboratories for testing.

A total of 1,552 have been tested positive for harbouring this dreaded virus and a sum of Rs. 2 lakh has so far been spent on medicines. And the crisis is still far from over.

Chikungunya, a viral outbreak of high fever and severe joints pain, is sweeping the Salem city, catching the Corporation authorities on the wrong foot and forcing the district administration to issue a series of morale-boosting assurances that it is not fatal. But these statements rarely convince the affected persons. Many claim that a few affected had died of the epidemic.

Agitations

Strongly condemning the civic body's failure to prevent the spread of the fever, various citizens' fora and political outfits have also been launching agitations, road blockades and even awareness seminars and workshops for quite some time now.

While a few organisations such as the Democratic Youth Federation of India, Pattali Makkal Katchi, All India Youth Federation and Janata Dal (Secular) have organised agitations, People's Forum for Human Rights has conducted a workshop in this regard.

However, they in unison are blaming the Corporation for showing indifference to the vital issue - the city's sanitation.

Garbage

The city today reeks with garbage and overflowing sewers, thus transforming it into a fertile ground for the dreaded `Aedes Egypti' mosquitoes to proliferate in droves.

Inadequate fogging of repellent and the inordinate delay in reaching out to the affected people have made the citizens lose faith in the civic body's capability to tackle a situation of such magnitude.

Little support

And lack of collective responsibility, (a senior Corporation official says that they have been either receiving no or little support from the other Government agencies), is another major factor for the poor defence against the malady. Lessons are hardly learnt.

While other metropolis could contain it Salem painfully struggles against it, as it did against the outbreak of Dengue last year.

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