Senior bureaucrat Dr J Radhakrishnan, Tamil Nadu's trouble shooter at times of natural calamities, has been appointed as the Special Nodal Officer for Greater Chennai Corporation today as the coastal city grapples with rising coronavirus cases. Chennai today reported 176 new cases taking the total number of cases in the city to 1,082. Tamil Nadu has recorded 2,323 cases with 27 deaths so far.
The state government order says Dr Radhakrishnan, an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer, will coordinate all coronavirus related issues with Commissioner of Greater Chennai and other teams. He will be assisted by a team of five senior officers of the Indian Police Services (IPS) Mahesh Kumar Agarwal (North Zone), Abash Kumar (East Zone), Amaresh Pujari (South Zone), Abhay Kumar Singh (West Zone) and K Bhavaneeswari (Suburbs).
Chennai continues to witness a sharp rise in COVID-19 positive cases despite the nationwide lockdown and 16,000 workers conducting door-to-door screening everyday.
There is criticism that the city was initially complacent. Although eight thousand international passengers landed in the city on a daily basis, adequate tests were not conducted.
The 1992 batch officer has been the government's trouble shooter at times of natural calamities. In 2004, when the country was devastated by a tsunami, Dr J Radhakrishnan was transferred from Thanjavur and appointed as the Collector of Nagapattinam, the epicentre of the devastation in the sub-continent, where over 6,000 people died.
He oversaw almost the entire part of relief and rehabilitation works of the coastal district.
After seven years as Health Secretary, he is presently the Commissioner of Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation.
Last week, Chennai witnessed massive panic-buying as people rushed to grocery shops and vegetable markets ahead of the four day intense lockdown, compromising social distancing and defying the mask rule. The Chennai Corporation initially went back and forth on keeping grocery shops and vegetable markets open during the four-day "intense lockdown". Ultimately, it decided to shut the shops and markets during this period leading to more chaos and panic.
With fear looming high that this development can trigger another wave of positive cases in the weeks to come, Dr Radhakrishnan is sure to have his hands full.