After Faridabad border sealing, essential service providers appeal for help
The Faridabad district administration on Wednesday afternoon completely sealed its border with Delhi to insulate itself from Covid cases from across the border in Delhi.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 04:05 IST
The sealing of the Delhi-Haryana border at Faridabad could hit essential services, senior government officials warned on Wednesday and assured that the administration, police and civic agencies were making alternative arrangements to ensure their frontline workers were able to come to work every day.
The Faridabad district administration on Wednesday afternoon completely sealed its border with Delhi to insulate itself from Covid cases from across the border in Delhi. People were earlier allowed to enter or leave Faridabad by showing curfew passes or heir identity cards if they came under essential services listed by the government.
Many employees of Delhi’s three civic bodies, Delhi Police and those from crucial departments such as health, Delhi Jal Board and District Disaster Management Authority come to Delhi for work every day from different parts of Faridabad and its adjoining areas. Apart from government employees, there are many who cross the border daily and come to south and south-east Delhi to work at milk shops, grocery stores and pharmacies .
HT has learnt from senior government’s officials that Delhi lieutenant governor Anil Baijal has directed chief secretary Vijay Dev and police commissioner SN Shrivastava to devise a plan to provide local accommodation to health workers and essential service providers so that they do not have to travel daily.
“The plan is not yet ready. It will be in place in a day or two,” said a senior government official
Delhi Police is already providing accommodation to around 675 of its junior personnel at different hotels and guest houses in the city. Senior officials said the Delhi government had already commenced talks with its Haryana counterparts to ensure that at least some essential service workers were able to travel. For health workers directly working in designated Covid-19 hospitals and quarantine centres, the Delhi government has booked hotels and guest houses.
Home Minister Satyendar Jain confirmed the state government had started talks with Haryana. “We are in touch with the Haryana and UP governments. We hope they allow the movement of those catering to essential services, especially health workers,” Jain said.
The Uttar Pradesh government, has till now, not sealed its borders with Delhi completely and is allowing movement on the basis of curfew passes and identity cards.
Delhi Police officials said that on Wednesday they contacted the management of different colleges and told them to try and accommodate some of its personnel at their hostels. A senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, said that a few hostels have offered to house the policemen. Over 5,000 policemen come to Delhi from Faridabad every day.
From managing containment zones, security on the roads, feeding the homeless and ensuring social distancing across the city -- police are at the forefront in this fight against Covid-19. “Most of our junior staff — constables, head constables, assistant sub-inspectors — come from Faridabad or adjoining areas.. There will be some problems but we are prepared. We have hotels and guest houses for now but will need more space. We are rationing our workforce in order to maintain social distancing. Many police stations are working with 66-70% strength. Many who come from that side of Haryana are already on leave,” said the Delhi Police official.
Government officials said this was the first time since the anti-Sikh riots that the border had been completely sealed.
The border closure hampered services in Delhi hospitals, with healthcare workers unable to report for duty. At Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital, the duty rosters had to be changed on Wednesday because of thin attendance.
“Around 25 to 30% of the hospital staff come from outside the state. We have had to change the duty rosters, but it is a temporary measure. People finishing their shifts are being asked to stay on and help. But this cannot be sustained,” said a doctor from the hospital.
Apart from those working in Covid wards, the hospital has been unable to organise any lodging accommodation for the others.
“There were a few people who had come for duty and hen got stuck in Delhi. They have been accommodated in the hostel, but that cannot be done for too many people. People on Covid-19 duty have already been provided hotel accommodation. It is not possible or feasible to do so for all hospital staff,” said the doctor.
Private hospitals nears border areas like Apollo and Fortis (Escorts, Vasant Kunj, and Gurugram) will face problems if healthcare professionals are not allowed to cross the border. “Yes, we are facing problems due to this. We are hopeful the Delhi and Haryana governments will resolve the issue. This will help our staff in rendering patient care to all,” said an official spokesperson from Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
At least 400 staff in two Fortis hospitals -- one in Delhi, one in Gurugram -- live across the borders
“This is like drawing resources away. As it is there is a shortage of staff in the hospitals,” said Dr PK Bharadwaj, secretary, Delhi Voluntary Hospitals Forum.
A 39-year-old Auxiliary Nursing Midwife (ANM) at a dispensary in central Delhi, who did not wish to be named, said she couldn’t go to the dispensary on Wednesday due to restrictions on the Delhi-Haryana border near Sonipat following the Haryana government’s decision.
“Due to the lockdown, we were somehow managing to report to duty. But after the Haryana government’s recent decision, it has become impossible to cross the border. What if they completely seal this border too? This is for the first time I am working from home. Since morning I’m coordinating with Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers regarding the door-to-door survey. But it is not possible to work like this,” she said.
The 39-year-old has been working as with the Delhi government dispensary for the past 13 years.
The Union of Delhi’s contractual healthcare workers (National Health Mission-Reproductive Child Health Contractual Employees Welfare Society—Delhi) has also written to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, BJP MLA from Badarpur , which lies in south-east Delhi and shares border with Faridabad, said that a lot of essential services provides couldn’t make it to work on Wednesday.
“I’m getting complaints and requests regarding water supply and shortage of ration from some centres. The people who could have addressed the problem couldn’t make it to work on Wednesday . The Haryana government has taken the right decision as it wants to protect its people. The Delhi government too should either make arrangement for their (people from Faridabad) stay here or talk to Haryana government and make special arrangements,” said Bidhuri.
Bidhuri said hundreds of sanitation workers, mostly posted in the south-east and south districts, live in Faridabad, Ballabhgarh and residential neighbourhoods near the Delhi-Faridabad border. “There are so many sanitation workers who live just near the Delhi-Faridabad border and were majorly hit because of the restrictions,” he added.
The three civic bodies of Delhi said they are ready to open their primary schools and community centres if such sanitation workers needed a place to stay in Delhi. Until Wednesday night, they were yet to issue an order.
In areas of south-east Delhi, such as Sarita Vihar and Kalkaji, many shopkeepers said that their delivery boys and employees had not reported for work because of the ban . “Two of my employees are residents of Ballabhgarh. They would help me deliver milk, grocery at DDA flats in Sarita Vihar. They couldn’t come today. I will now have to either stop home delivery or shut shop,” said Rajen Krishna, who runs a department store.