Allow or not to allow outsiders... housing societies face dilemma
Pune District Co-operative Housing Federation (PDCHF) condemns deputy registrar’s decision to lodge FIR against a housing societyUpdated: Jul 01, 2020 16:45 IST
In the wake of an incident where a secretary of a co-operative housing society was booked on Sunday after an outsider was denied entry, the Pune district co-operative federation – an umbrella body of housing societies condemned the police action in a special meeting held on Tuesday.
During the meeting on Tuesday which was held to discuss various issues related to entry for outsiders and the criminal case, the federation called the action taken by the deputy registrar of co-operative housing societies in lodging an FIR uncalled for. An FIR was lodged against the Rohan Nilay co-operative housing society in Aundh for violating the directives of the district collector by framing their own rules.
However, the federation has appealed to all societies to follow guidelines issued by the co-operative department regarding the entries subject to verification and checks in larger public interests.
The police action evoked sharp reaction among societies, office bearers, residents, especially, senior citizens who feel domestic help, drivers and others should be allowed amid public experts asking caution and measures to be taken while allowing outsiders.
Pune district co-operative federation chairman Suhas Patwardhan said “Instead of establishing lines of communication with society, the government is directly lodging an FIR against the society which is wrong, the manner in which the state government directed the deputy registrar’s office to lodge an FIR against the society secretary. The society office bearers had allowed the tenants inside but were verifying details as they had come from a containment area. The secretary booked has always been at the forefront in helping people and it is wrong that he has been booked. The FIR must be withdrawn with immediate effect.”
The police booked secretary of society from Aundh on the charge of insisting for a medical certificate from a pregnant woman and her family. The society eventually did not allow them entry.
“There is a serious communication gap from the government department. The federation and also societies should have been taken into consideration before lodging the case. This is condemnable and the FIR will deter societies from discharging their duties which are completely in the public interest. As many as 450 persons participated in the meeting. We have asked all the office bearers to adhere to the guidelines issued by the co-operative department and they must not be violated at all. In fact, nobody is violating the rules and regulations listed by the government,” said Patwardhan.
The Pune district co-operative federation will issue a written communique to all the ministerial departments concerned seeking a rollback of the FIR and demanding greater protection of society rights.
Santosh Krishna - Ivy Estate, director-WHSA said “In most cases, lack of counselling of society staff results in confusion and results in setting random standards. The society rules should be in accordance with the cooperative housing dept. and the collector office issued orders. Besides this, these guidelines should also be pasted in the society notice boards, security gate and cabins for more clarity. To ensure that the guidelines issued by the housing society department is strictly followed, the society should ensure they do the briefing on the latest guidelines to their facility management and the security staff as they need to understand the rules clearly as they operate on the ground round the clock.”
Kiran Moghe, leader of the Pune district ghar kamgar sanghatna, a domestic workers body union said, “Domestic maids cannot be stigmatised by the society. There is no proof that they spread infections and it can be contrary that those who are infected are transferring the infection to the maids. The maids have equal human rights and their selective branding must be avoided by the society and instead, steps must be taken to encourage and motivate them towards their socio-economic empowerment.”
Moghe further added that housing societies were behaving as per their whims and fancies by subjecting the domestic helpers to harassment and unnecessary suspicion due to inherent biases.
Moghe’s organisation has further demanded enactment of protective legislation that will guarantee basic minimum working hours for domestic workers including minimum wages, weekly holidays, paid leaves, bonuses and social security benefits including insurance and pensions.
It has also demanded anti-discrimination measures, protection from indignity and providing legal and financial support during a crisis.
Sarika Gaikwad, a housemaid from Wanawadi said “We have already lost our livelihood due to Covid-19 crisis. Over and above, the housing societies and their members have a biased mindset that maids spread Covid-19 infection as they come from slums. This mentality has to change. The societies take assistance and help from the maids for their personal benefits and easily dump them in the corner during the crisis as we are poor. However, the workers’ organisations have stood behind us which is why we are fighting effectively against this discrimination. However, not all members of society have the same bias as there are strong supporters for us too.”
Dr Abhijit More, co-convenor, Jan Arogya Abhiyan said there is a lot of fear psychosis in the society regarding Covid-19 infection and nobody should succumb to overreaction and fear.
“However, it is mandatory that social distancing is maintained, masks worn and hands cleaned with sanitizers. There is absolutely no need to overreact, panic and resort to measures which will lead to a complete ban on entry and exit of the society. Absolute ban of free movement is not required if we carry out regular sanitation drive in the society where staircase, elevators and other places must be cleaned. Proper awareness in the housing society regarding Covid-19 is the need for us and we must work towards that. Mask literacy has to be cultivated and ingrained amongst society. People who have come from outside must stay in fourteen days quarantine and society must assist them in the process. We should learn to live with Covid-19 and instead of banning entry and exits follow laws with due diligence. Precautionary measures must be taken for preventing the disease. Panic and overreaction must be avoided as it leads to harassment of the people.
Societies reporting fresh cases after govt permits movement
A 65-year-old retired government doctor from Padmawati area died due to the Covid-19 infection, triggering fear among other residents of the housing society on whether they should have allowed outsiders.
The society that the 65-year old was a resident of had recently allowed entry to outsiders including those coming for domestic work.
Residents from society said they are reviewing the decision whether to allow outsiders after some of the members tested positive.
According to the Pune municipal Corporation (PMC) officials, as many as 20 residential societies have reported fresh faces in the past one week. “We have not reviewed the situation today and by Wednesday, when we release our containment areas list, these societies will figure in it,” said PMC commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad.
The PMC, as per fresh policy, has decided to review the containment zone map.
Gaikwad said, since the infection is spreading to areas which were Covid-free so far, the PMC has decided to keep asymptomatic patients at home.
“Once we confirm that a particular person is positive from these societies, where people can afford to stay home in isolation, we speak with them on web camera and ask them to stay home,” said Gaikwad.
Cooperative department of Maharashtra government guidelines for societies
Societies have to keep temperature guns
Pulse Oximeters to be kept at entry and exit gates
Entry-exit gates must have sanitizers
Residents should maintain a safe distance
What is Allowed: