Govt allows district admins to regulate movement of plumbers, electricians
The Delhi government on Tuesday allowed district administrations to enforce the latest lockdown relaxation — allowing self-employed electricians, plumbers and water purifier servicemen to operate in the city — as they deem fit.
The government clarification comes at a point where residents demanded a safety protocol, including thermal screening, to authorise such workers.
“The Delhi Police has been sent the order issued yesterday (Monday) and they are complying with it. There is no common protocol in place on how they are being allowed to operate. We have decentralised decision making on this and left it to the respective district administration to enforce it in the manner they deem fit,” a media advisor to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
Nidhi Srivastava, district magistrate (Central), said, “We will issue passes as and when they apply. The same applies to private clinics, veterinarians and other such services that have been allowed.”
However, such workers in the North East district will not require passes, said district magistrate (DM) Shashi Kaushal. “In my district, most of these providers are available in the neighbourhoods. Curfew passes are required when people have to travel long distances for work. In the case of electricians, plumbers, etc., working within a colony or within three to four blocks should not be a problem,” said Kaushal.
Delhi Police spokesperson MS Randhawa acknowledged the measures in North East district. “These service providers will be allowed to work even without the movement passes. But still, we would request them that it will be better if they get an e-pass made,” said Randhawa.
A senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, said that to ensure that others do not start stepping out, posing as workers, they will be questioned. “If we come across any suspicious person, our men can call the house the service provider is going to and can confirm his name and profession with them. But, we will ensure no such worker is harassed. Also, when most of the hardware and electrical stores aren’t open yet, there will be less demand for such workers,” the officer said.
Residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) across the city, however, said they will not be able to stop the entry of service providers to their colonies, after the government’s order.
BS Vohra, president, the federation of East Delhi RWAs, said that at the subdivisional magistrate (SDM) level, the administration should fix a schedule for thermal screening of the service providers in the area before they are allowed to work. “We are issuing an advisory, asking service providers to wear protective gear, such as masks and gloves, while entering the premises,” said Vohra.
Pramod Kumar, 36, an electrician, who runs his business taking assignments over the phone, said the news brought him much relief, as he had already run out of his modest savings and had to take a loan from his friends to buy rations.
Although still wary of catching the infection, he said he cannot afford to sit at home anymore. A resident of East Delhi’s Dallupura, he cycles to nearby Vasundhara Enclave or sometimes travels on foot to attend to customers.
“Except for air-conditioner (AC) servicing, I do all the electrical work. I didn’t get any calls for work so far, but I will get in touch with customers, whose works were left incomplete, because of the lockdown,” said Kumar, who has a family of four dependent on his income.
However, some workers said they will gauge the situation before starting work as they do not want to risk their lives.
Mukesh Kumar, 27, an electrician, who also owns a small shop in Rohini Sector 15, said that he is yet to reopen and will only attend to urgent works. “It has been difficult to manage, as the sources from where we used to get hardware stocks are all closed. But, I think being alive and healthy is more important. I have decided to not open the shop until the lockdown is lifted,” said Kumar.
Self-employed service providers are not registered with the government or home service companies. They are daily wagers found in almost every colony and most live on a call-by-call basis. There are no official numbers as they are part of the large unorganised workforce in the Capital, but a senior Delhi government official said their numbers in the city could be around 30,000 to 40,000.
Unlike registered autorickshaw drivers or taxi drivers, they are also not eligible for the one-time financial support of ₹5,000 provided by the Delhi government.
HC Gupta, president, the federation of Ashok Vihar RWAs, said they have asked residents to avoid getting their ACs serviced till at least the lockdown is lifted. “Residents, on their own, are avoiding calling for such services unless there is an emergency. The government should have set a mechanism or at least check the medical history of service providers who will enter a residential complex. The current scenario poses a risk of spreading the Covid infection,” said Gupta.
Atul Goyal, president of the United Residents Joint Action (URJA), an umbrella body of 2,500 RWAs, said that more clarity is needed in the government order. “How do we know that the service provider is not coming from a hot spot? At the ward level, the authorities must designate people and allow only such providers who are coming from green zones so that there is minimised risk of spreading the infection,” said Goyal.
A senior government official clarified that these relaxations will not apply to any of the 100 containment zones in the city.
The order on relaxations issued by chief secretary Vijay Dev on Monday night also allowed interstate and intrastate movement of medical and veterinary personnel, scientists, nurses, paramedical staff, lab technicians, midwives and other hospital support services, including ambulances. It stated that air travel for such persons will also be allowed.
After receiving feedback that several private clinics, pathological labs and dispensaries in Delhi have been shut due to confusion over the lockdown rules, the Monday order also called for the opening of such facilities across the city.
The government-run shelter homes will now admit new inmates. “So far, since the lockdown, the homes were not allowed to let outsiders in. Now that the order has come, they will be open to accepting those in need depending on the capacity,” said a senior Delhi government official.