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Home / Cities / How ‘Lockdown 1 meal a day’ fed a taluka of 130 villages with a dedicated Covid centre

How ‘Lockdown 1 meal a day’ fed a taluka of 130 villages with a dedicated Covid centre

cities Updated: Jul 02, 2020 22:29 IST
Dheeraj Bengrut
Dheeraj Bengrut

PUNE Until June, 130 villages in Velhe taluka, a population of at least 50,000 citizens were facing the Covid-19 pandemic with no dedicated Covid care centre for tests or quarantines in the taluka.

The lack of medical facilities – for testing and quarantine - in the taluka was as stark as the prospect of Covid-19 cases rising.

As of July 1, a total of 36 residents from various villages in the taluka have tested positive for Covid-19. Currently, there are three active positive patients.

The fact that Velhe today has a handle on the Covid situation rests, in part, in a Covid care centre at the ITI college in Velhe.

The brick, mortar and tented structure did not exist till June.

In three days it was built up by 75 residents of Wakad, Pune; most of these philantrophists from the IT sector in the city.

It began with ‘Lockdown 1 meal a day’, the group’s unofficial name, simply a reflection of what their early charity was dedicated to.

It today stands testimony to urban fortunate reaching out to change rural lives – a Covid care centre in Velhe; built by the group volunteers themselves; at the cost of Rs five lakh; all paid for by the group’s volunteer.

From‘Lockdown 1 meal a day’ donating food packets during the lockdown, across the city to a 101-bed Covid care centre in Velhe taluka, the effort has been relentless.

The centre will serve at least 130 villages and can be accessed by at least 15,000 villagers.

“We began our ‘Lockdown 1 Meal a Day’ initiative where we cooked and delivered food to poor people. When the unlock process started in the last week of May, there was 700kg of grain left with us. So went to Velhe village to distribute it. That was when we realised there was a need for a Covid care centre, as there were positive cases found earlier. The total budget of the project went upto Rs 5 lakh and we, members of the group, contributed. Some contributions came from our supporters in the US and Australia,” said Raj Sekhon, owner of an IT company and coordinator of the project.

Group volunteers worked for three days to build the centre at the ITI College in Velhe.

Beds with saline rods, pillows, bed-sheets and pillow covers were all set up. Initially, it was a 50-bed set up and later on it was increased to 101 beds.

As of July 1, a total of 36 residents have tested positive for Covid-19 in Velhe taluka and currently, there are three active positive patients.

Twenty-seven close contacts of Velhe’s three active positive patients are in quarantine at this centre.

There is a team of doctors and nurses provided by the district administration at the centre. Once a person tests positive, s/he is immediately moved to a government hospital in Pune city.

“Looking at the situation there, there was not even a basic medical facility in Velhe. With permission from the tehsildar we took ownership and built a Covid care centre of 51 beds in three days in the first week of June. Later on, we added 50 additional beds. To ensure the safety of medical staff we also provided good quality, reusable PPE kits and face shield for the staff. As an immunity booster we prepared a total of 11,994 medicine doses to be distributed to every house in Velhe taluka,” Sekhon said.

Shivaji Shinde, tehsildar of Velhe taluka, said, “As the number of Covid positive patients starting increasing in the taluka we were in need of a proper care centre where we can do testing, and quarantine close contacts. We were in search of help, when this group of people came to our rescue. On their own they built the entire centre, and people are quarantined from all over the taluka. We are very thankful.”

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