The year 2020 will be remembered for bouts of activity by staff, apart from dereliction of regular duties sometimes
The Year 2020 will be forever etched in the institutional memory of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for more than one reason. The year will be remembered for bouts of tumultuous activity for GHMC staff, apart from, and sometimes in dereliction of, their regular duties.
The roller coaster ride began with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter, and continued up to the GHMC elections at the fag end of the year. Since March this year, the circle and zonal level officials were involved lock, stock and barrel in COVID-19 operations, along with their counterparts from the Health, Police and Revenue departments. Special surveillance teams were formed initially with active role by GHMC, to track down all the foreign returnees and enforce home isolation or hospitalisation.
Later on when the numbers rose uncontrollably, the same teams were deployed for monitoring of COVID-19 containment zones, and contact tracing of all the coronavirus infected persons. As the pandemic had rendered thousands of persons in the city unemployed and without shelter, it became GHMC’s responsibility to feed them and provide shelter.
Annapurna canteens began to provide free meals for the destitute, waiving of even the ₹5 per plate meals charged earlier. In order to meet the demand, the number of canteens was increased from 150 to over 370 by the month of May, serving up to 1.5 lakh hungry per day. Free meals were distributed across various localities through close to 260 mobile Annapurna centres.
The Sanitation & Entomology teams of GHMC worked tirelessly, cleaning and disinfecting the containment zones and localities surrounding the isolation facilities on regular basis, even while discharging the regular sanitation and vector control duties. More than 30 of GHMC’s own staff majority of whom were deployed in containment zones, tested positive for COVID-19.
Even after the government’s focus on COVID-19 began to wane with the Unlock guidelines, the corporation’s staff had little respite, as they were deployed almost entirely on collection of property data for uploading into Dharani portal. Devastating floods followed on the heels of torrential downpour in mid-October, wrecking the city in every nook and corner. Hundreds of localities were submerged, and more than 50 people were washed away in the floods. More families have been displaced, and even at the turn of the year, several are unable to return to their homes as flood water refuses to recede.
GHMC officials who busied themselves in the rescue and rehabilitation operations, were also given the additional responsibility of the flood relief distribution ahead of civic polls. The distribution was mired in controversy, as many of the affected alleged irregularities by the GHMC staff.
Even while the corporation claimed disbursal of ₹65 crore by way of flood relief, selection of beneficiaries is still shrouded in opacity. The final bout of frenzied activity came by way of GHMC elections, which will make 2020 a watershed year for the very outcome.