Chennai Corporation’s ward 173 that falls in Mylapore has emerged as the latest hotspot for Coronavirus spread. Till now, more than 70 virus cases and one death has been reported from this ward.
Ward 173 that comes under Adyar zone (zone 13) covers areas from Durgabhai Deshmukh Road (Sathya Studio zone) till Mandaveli bus terminus on one side. And Greenways Road to Srinivasapuram and parts of R.A.Puram and Mandavelipakkam on the other.
Around 104 streets, including R.K.Mutt Road, R.K.Nagar, Thiruveedhi Amman Kovil Street, M.R.C.Nagar, Rohini Gardens fall in this ward.
Of the 70 plus cases, the maximum number of cases – almost 26 have been reported from KVB Gardens. Today (On May 22) alone, 7 new virus cases and one death has been reported from here.
A virus-positive man from this area who was undergoing treatment at hospital has passed away. “He was suffering from lung failure and kidney failure as well, ” says a Corporation’s animator attached to ward 173.
Apart from K.V.B Gardens, in ward 173, virus cases have been reported from Raja Gramini Street (Off Salaiyar street that runs from R.K.Mutt Road), Kattabomman Street off Kamarajar Salai, Annai Sathya Nagar 4 th Street at South Kesavaperumal Puram.
KVB Gardens, now a corona hotspot zone is a sprawling colony of tightly packed houses sandwiched between R.K.Mutt Road and Kamarajar Salai in R.A.Puram. More than 1500 middle class and lower-middle-class families reside in this area in tiny houses constructed on lands that were mostly donated to temples especially Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore.
Residents of the area work as auto drivers, domestic helpers, carpenters and painters. On a normal day, this colony would be buzzing with activity – with people going about their day to day activities. And shops lining the colony off R.K.Mutt Road and Kamarajar Salai selling all kinds of stuff from veggies, and snacks to tea and tiffin items.
KVB Gardens stands for Kapaleeswarar Vanabhojanam Gardens. And once a year, the vanabhojanam ritual also takes place in this colony. Says Kathir, a resident of this neighbourhood, “Deities from Sri Kapaleeswarar temple will be taken to a mantapam off a local temple in Kamarajar Salai and rituals take place where the lords are offered food.”
The colony reported its first virus case on May 7 after two women tested positive for the virus. Since then, more virus cases have been steadily popping up in this area.
Residents say that the congested nature of their colony is the reason for the increase in virus cases. Says Geeta, a resident, “We live in small houses in narrow lanes. It is practically not possible to follow social distancing here.”
Says another resident of this area, “Since the government announced relaxations in working hours of shops, most residents have been coming out daily to buy something or the other as if its a normal day. No social distancing is followed,” he says.
Residents of this area say that local civic workers are doing all they can to prevent virus spread here. However, to bring the virus spread under control, residents suggest it will be better if the entire colony is brought under the Corporation’s containment zone. “Now, only a few locations are marked as containment zone,” says a resident who wanted to remain anonymous.
“Also, police officers may be deployed here through the day to discourage people from venturing out. And to help residents who have lost the livelihood due to lockdown, some rations may be distributed. And most importantly, volunteers can be appointed to deliver veggies/essentials to all residents here,” he says.