COVID: Hundreds Gather on Cauvery Bridge in Trichy Daily for Food
Over hundreds of people sit on the bridge over the Cauvery river in Trichy, Tamil Nadu everyday for food.
A long stretch of hundreds of people sitting on the bridge over the Cauvery river waiting for food to be served. This is the scene in Trichy, Tamil Nadu for the last one week and this shall continue for the days to come.
With the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the district administration has ensured to provide food and shelter to migrant labourers and the destitute. But there is a huge number of people who are unable to cook, don’t have provisions and with no means to earn, they depend on a good samaritan to come their way.
The Quint spoke to a source in the district administration to understand how this arrangement has been worked out, so that NGOs and other volunteers who want to provide food can reach out to the people who are in dire need.
As on 28 April, there are 51 COVID-19 positive cases and 42 recoveries reported in the district.
People reportedly come in an orderly fashion for breakfast at 8.30am, lunch at 1pm, tea at 6pm and for dinner at 8pm.
These individuals are construction labourers, homeless persons, beggars, especially sitting near the Srirangam temple, youngsters staying in mansions (which are cheap hostel-like accommodation for men) and slum dwellers who don’t have money for food because they all depend on daily wages.
The city commissioner clarified that these were not migrant labourers. “They are people without support. Some NGOs and people in the Collectorate are providing food. They are maintaining social distancing and the volunteers go to each one of them and give them food, so that there is no overcrowding,” he told The Quint.
Strict One Arm Distance Policy
The entire bridge has clear markings made, as this was earlier the space for local markets to sell produce during this lockdown period. Now, people are made to sit on either sides of the road - on the footpaths. There are chalk drawings made to specify the distance one needs to maintain while sitting.
“This is a spacious space. Police go to the place and with a public announcement system to ensure social distancing. The district is making additional shelters as well,” the city police commissioner told The Quint.
When questioned why the food couldn’t be provided in their respective homes and mansions, the officials said that gathering these hundreds in mandaps and shelters will run the risk of turning into COVID-19 hotspots.
A volunteer told that this initiative has really streamlined their work as it becomes tedious to identify homes where people are in need. However, he said that proper shelters need to be provided for temple beggars who are still sleeping on pavements and under trees, thus being vulnerable to the virus.
A local resident told that there are still so many homeless persons who retire for the night on the banks of the river.
The source also revealed that of the hundreds of people who come daily to the bridge for food, 146 persons have been identified as homeless. ID cards will soon be issued and accommodation will be arranged, he said.
The Quint tried reaching the district collector but didn’t get a response.
On an everyday basis, over 3,246 persons from rural areas and 3,550 persons from urban areas are being provided food and other essentials everyday in the district.
Officials confirmed that accommodation and shelter has been arranged for all migrant labourers and construction workers in the district, with the help of factory owners.
The district administration has received 34,000 kilos of rice so far as donations, of which 18,500 kilos of rice has been used so far. Over 4,181 migrant labourers, especially from North Indian states have been provided 10 kilos of rice and dal.
30 kitchens have been set up all over the district.
1097 is the helpline number that once can reach out to for food and other essentials.
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