The SMC workers have been at the forefront in the fight against coronavirus and emerged as the first line of defence, Ajaz Rashid reports.

Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) employees fumigating residential houses, offices, streets, houseboats and Shikaras has been one of the common sights following the outbreak of the coronavirus in Kashmir.
The SMC workers have been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 in Kashmir.

SMC workers while sanitising the residential streets

They are seen dispatching duties at all the places where one fears to tread in times of pandemic.
The SMC workers are also using hi-tech machinery and drones to sanitize Srinagar.
On the SMC plans of working during the pandemic, SMC Commissioner Gazanfar Ali said the General Council meeting conducted on March 10 to combat deadly COVID-19 virus provided a detailed outlook and futuristic plan to the SMC and its officials.
“We geared our men and machinery immediately after the council meeting,” Ali said. “We also studied the crumbling of the administrative, healthcare, and solid waste management order in some developed countries and build our roadmap on that.”

The Commissioner said the SMC was continuing all its efforts to mitigate the spread of dreaded COVID-19 virus.
He said the SMC had incorporated a robust and large-scale high-end mechanism in the vulnerable areas for decontamination.
“To slow down the unprecedented the outbreak, it was a major challenge before SMC to cope with. In this regard, a meeting was convened by the SMC Mayor, Junaid Azim Mattoo where decisions were taken to procure disinfecting chemicals and machines for decontamination,” Ali said.
Keeping in view the exigency of all this, the whole machinery was airlifted. Procurement of safety equipment—including bodysuits, hand gloves, masks, goggles and alcohol-based hand sanitizers were also done swiftly.
“Since the outbreak was so fast that there was no time for conducting meetings framing any strategy to combat COVID-19 as a routine matter,” he said. “This also made the situation worse in some areas—which later became epicentres,” he said. “In some situations, you being in administration learn with the mistakes of others, so do we. We are constantly reaching out to the people and at the same time, studying the trends of the virus.”
He said during the council meeting, the decision was taken on a war-footing basis for taking preventive measures and the machinery and chemicals were procured for decontamination of the Srinagar city.
“We immediately swung into action. A total of 150 shoulder-mounted spray machines (automatic mechanical) were procured on an exigency basis for decontamination purpose which proved to be fruitful,” he said. “Sufficient number of manual spraying shoulder-mounted machines also proved to be effective in the process of sanitization.”
The commissioner said that chemicals-Quaternary Ammonium Compound (QAC)— a 5th generation chemical and Sodium Hypo Chlorite plus bleach had been procured in bulk.
He said this provided highly effective in the sanitation process across the city hospitals and streets, Mohallas and up line areas.
Ali said the safety of staff and SMC workers, working on the frontline, was paramount.
He said in this regard, procurement and allotment of safety equipment, gears viz bodysuits, hand gloves, masks, goggles and alcohol-based hand-sanitizers had been ensured.
“All the media print, electronic and social were utilised for the mass awareness to combat and arrest the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
After learning that the Quaternary Ammonium Compound (QAC) chemical was proving helpful, the SMC incorporated drones in its list to reduce the transmission mechanism.
“Drones proved to be more efficient and feasible alternative of spraying the decontamination droplets in the congested areas while efforts made to use the technology in a safe and scientific manner,” the commissioner said.
Likewise, the first of its kind disinfection tunnel was also introduced in fighting the virus spread, and it was installed at CD Hospital Dalgate where every patient and attendant was sprayed chemical droplets before entering the hospital.
SMC also pressed into service its mechanized decontamination vehicles and special teams of workers for decontamination of ‘red zones’.
During the drive, the SMC workers sprayed sanitization chemicals including sodium hydrochloride in these areas as a preventive measure to break the chain of the coronavirus transmission.
The SMC is also actively working in hospitals where the chemicals including Quaternary Ammonium compound are being sprayed to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Besides, the SMC has installed and made operational disinfectant tunnels at CD Hospital, LD Hospital, GB Pant Hospital, SKIMS, JVC Hospital and two tunnels at SMHS for decontamination and sanitization.
Through these tunnels, the persons visiting hospital including doctors, hospital workers, patients and their attendants get sanitized instantly while entering or leaving the hospital premises.
According to SMC authorities, its ground-level workers, and the machinery of the corporation are in full gear for the containment of COVID-19.
SMC Commissioner, Gazanfer Ali said “Whenever we get the details from the administration about the declared positive cases and red zones, we immediately depute our men and machinery on the spot to decontaminate the place and the households,” Ali said.
The SMC workers also distributed supplementary nutrition among the Anganwadi centres.
Deputy Mayor Parvaiz Ahmed Qadri visited an area and distributed supplementary nutrition among the beneficiaries of Anganwadi centres including nursing mothers, pregnant women, and registered children.
The food items distributed included eggs, oil, pulses, spices and other items.
The Deputy Mayor said in view of the COVID-19 lockdown, the efforts were being made to supply food items at the doorstep of Anganwadi centres and the drive would continue till all the centres are covered.
District Program Officer, Zeenat Ara, said under a project in one particular area, 279 Anganwadi centres were registered and the supplementary nutrition had been distributed among 170 centres comprising 3400 beneficiaries.
The SMC also launched a drive to disinfect the entire city by using boom sprayers to fight the coronavirus.

These hi-tech spray machines, which uses Italian technology, have a huge capacity to sanitise maximum area within seconds.

“We have launched a drive to disinfect the city by boom spray machines. These machines can sanitize 50 feet area within seconds. We are procuring more machinery and testing its capacity,” Mayor Junaid Mattoo said.

“We have trained our employees to execute this drive of sanitisation,” he said.

The SMC workers, who are often at the receiving end of the anger of the people for being part of the demolition drives and accused of corruption for providing illegal building permissions, with their work in fighting COVID-19 have become the frontline soldiers.

From receiving brickbats to bouquets, it has been quite a journey for them.

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