Proactive approach helps Saket cope with isolation

New Delhi On March 6, days after the first positive case of Covid-19 was reported in the National Capital Region (NCR), residents of Block H in Saket arranged for a talk on the control and prevention of the deadly virus by a doctor from Max hospital.

“By that time, we had already been discussing ways to ensure adequate precautions are taken for residents of the colony,” said Reena Ramachandran (80), a resident of the block. “As the number of cases kept increasing, we came up with several measures. Visitors are to be screened and have to sanitise their hands, and residents are given access to whatever essentials they need inside the colony’s premises itself,” she added.

With the nationwide lockdown announced to control the spread of the coronavirus disease, the 15 blocks at Saket have become like fortresses.

Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) at each of the blocks have come up with plans to restrict the entry of visitors. All except one gate at each of the blocks have been locked, and those visiting are made to wash their hands before entering. The entry of domestic helps and garbage collectors have been restricted, and only some vegetable vendors and chemists are allowed in, that too with gloves and masks.

On Sunday, the fifth day of the lockdown, the silence on the streets of the upmarket colony was deafening. While some grocery stores are open in the residential areas of the colony, set up by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) over the 1960s and 70s, not a soul was to be seen in the malls, cinema theatres and eateries in surrounding areas.

“The first step we had taken when news of the virus began to break was to increase the number of security personnel, and asked them to evict visitors from the three parks inside the block,” said Pawan Suri, president, Block J RWA. “Over time, we have locked up 12 gates in the block, and only one is open. I saw a few residents walking around in the parks on Saturday, so we have decided to lock the gates of the parks from Sunday,” he added.

With senior citizens comprising more than 50% of the population in the neighbourhood, according to RWAs in the area, residents have tried to ensure they are provided for, on priority.

“We have drawn up a list of names of all the elderly who live by themselves here, and we are ensuring that grocery and medicines are delivered to them periodically,” said Suri.

Other residents have pitched in on their own, sending food to elderly neighbours, several of whom have been left to fend for themselves after the lockdown, which has restricted transport in the city, limited several workers’ ability to travel.

Members of the RWA agree that the absence of domestic help has turned into a major issue for senior citizens who live by themselves, and said they have spoken to the local police to see if some of the helps can be provided with a pass to enter the area.

“Most residents inside the blocks are cooperating. However, our bigger concern is with what is happening in the surrounding areas.

The Select City Walk and Anupam market are places which people frequent. The police need to ensure that people do not crowd these areas,” added Ramachandran. While the mall and shops in Anupam market have been shut, residents worry that people will still visit these areas, socialise, and set back the objective of a lockdown.

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