As many as 40 people in this working class neighbourhood collapsed due to the mysterious illness. In all, nearly 600 people suffered sudden convulsions from Saturday to Thursday morning, the majority of whom were treated at the government district hospital in Eluru and some at the government hospital in Vijayawada.
"There is a water tank in our colony. Water is supplied from it. The water comes here from Pampula Cheruvu and that gets supplied. We are wondering if that was the reason we faced this problem," Manikyam, 40, a resident of the colony, told IANS.
He complained that the municipal water used to look green in colour until four days ago but after this illness now it looks okay.
"I told my family members to boil the water, maybe that saved us, nobody in our family was struck by the illness, including children," he said.
Manikyam believes that it was water which caused this illness.
He cited the cases of a few neighbours who just collapsed.
Sattibabu, 45, Manikyam's neighbour, said leaders and officials should come to check the quality of the water in canals and pipelines at regular intervals but it is never done.
"Will anybody do these things when a person like me asks? This problem has occured because of municipal water," he complained.
Sattibabu questioned the wisdom of attending to a problem after allowing it to crop up.
"They should be saved before falling sick. Just imagine how people are living amid the coronavirus. Even during coronavirus no leader came and spoke to us or asked us whether we had food," said Sattibabu.
Meanwhile, Suribabu, 40, who along with two other family members fell sick, said that he too collapsed.
"I just collapsed, what can I say why I fell down. On Saturday, I collapsed at the government hospital, my family members admitted me in the government hospital," said Suribabu.
Suribabu said he suffered epileptic fits and didn't know what happened to him when the illness struck while visiting his daughters who had fallen prey to the same disease.
Suribabu was not alone, two daughters, Lakshmi Pravallika (15) and Deepika (17), were also affected by the illness.
However, he expressed satisfaction at the treatment and medicines offered to them by the government.
He said blood samples and also the samples of what they had cooked at home were taken for tests.
According to Manikyam, JP Colony is a working class neighbourhood where people eke out a living as masons, jute mill workers, auto-rickshaw drivers and by doing other small jobs.
However, all of them are now afraid. "I don't know what will happen to me when I go back home after talking to you," he said.
Because of the nature of the illness, Manikyam said they always have someone watching their children.
He said they are now even scared to step out for work.
He said 40 people getting hit by the disease in a neighbourhood of about 300 houses is a big number to worry about.
Satyanandam, 45, another resident from the same colony, complained that a medical camp was held for only one day, which was not there on Wednesday as well as Thursday.
Residents also pointed out that even bleaching powder was not sprinkled in the colony though it was done at most places in the town.
Moved by the plight of the colony residents, Manikyam said Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Badeti Chanti was supplying filtered water at 20 points in the town.
He said the colony has now been visited by Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas, district collector, WHO officials and others.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at [email protected])