Even as COVID-19 cases are increasing in the area under the jurisdiction of the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB), the governing body, which is overseen by the Union Ministry of Defence (MoD) is facing a severe fund crunch.
Speaking to TNM, SCB Vice President J Rama Krishna said that funds worth around Rs 500 crore were yet to be sanctioned from the Centre. The amount includes development works for which the SCB has already spent money and has sought that the MoD clear pending dues as per process.
"We were already having an issue with funds before COVID-19, but now the crisis has worsened. However, cases have been much lesser than the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area. So far we have a little less than 20 hotspots of the coronavirus," he said.
In fact, the fund crunch was so bad that earlier this month, resident welfare associations (RWAs) pitched in to help, by donating both cash and material like masks, sanitisers and grocery kits to hand out to migrants and daily-wage workers.
Speaking about the steps taken to curb COVID-19, Ramakrishna said, "We have stepped up sanitisation and streamlined all shopping malls, stores, vegetable markets under our jurisdiction and told them to strictly adhere to maintain all norms like physical distancing and hygiene."
"We are enforcing this strictly without any compromise. That is one of the major reasons cases have remained low. We are maintaining a record and ensuring that sanitsation is done on every street one a weekly basis," he added.
The SCB is presently taking up containment and other isolation arrangements while the Health Department of the state government is providing medical services.
The SCB at present does not have a dedicated hospital to deal with the coronavirus either. While it has Urban Primary Health Centres under its jurisdiction besides the Cantonment General Hospital at Bolarum, sources said that the latter has not been maintained.
Doctors are present in the hospital only from 10 am to 2 pm and there are no specialists available either.
Activists feel that while the SCB has managed to handle the crisis well so far, with the onset of monsoon, the number of cases could rise.
"Compared to GHMC, the ratio of COVID-19 cases are low because authorities have managed decently and people are also following the guidelines. But with monsoon starting, the issue of drainage linkage will be highlighted," says Gaddam Shravan Kumar, a social worker, who is also with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"In some areas in Ward 4, some drains are as old as 40 years. Many areas stagnating water is a problem and this will in turn result in seasonal diseases, which could put more pressure on the health system," he added.
However, the SCB says that while it has received some grant-in-aid by the Centre and some assistance from the state government to tackle COVID-19, the pending dues have been serving as an impediment in taking up infrastructure development works.
The tally of COVID-19 cases in Telangana crossed the 10,000 mark on Wednesday with 891 people testing positive for the coronavirus and five deaths being reported.
With the cases reported on Wednesday, the total tally of positive cases in the state rose to 10,444 out of which 5,858 are active cases. 4,361 people have been discharged so far while 225 people have succumbed to the virus.
Health Minister Eatala Rajender has appealed to the public to get tested if they have symptoms and not to panic even if they test positive.