Covid-19: Lockdown brings changes in lifestyle in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar, residents gear up to help the needy

Updated on Mar 29, 2020 07:41 AM IST

Covid-19 update: Several older residents said they were relieved that most pharmacies are open and could avail themselves of regular and timely medication.

People stand in a queue while maintaining a distance in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
People stand in a queue while maintaining a distance in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By, New Delhi

For residents of south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar neighbourhood, the 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which has so far claimed two lives in Delhi and thousands worldwide, has brought some lifestyle changes for both the elderly and the younger generations, though in different ways.

Arvinder Kochar, a resident of Block C and an undergraduate student, pointed out some of them: “We wake up early because the shops dealing with essentials open in the early hours for a limited time, so we make sure we sleep early too. Eateries are closed, so junk food is out of question.”

“We can’t hang out with friends outdoors but that’s fine as long as my mobile phone is charged and the Internet is working at full speed. All I need is a little exercise indoors,” said Kochar.

However, his neighbour Brijesh Mehrotra, a retired government official, is worried about health, “All the parks in the colony are closed. So, the thrice-a-day long walks have stopped. That’s not a recreational activity. I have hypertension and diabetes and, so, I need those walks every day. Now, my only workout is taking out the garbage when the municipal corporation truck arrives and running errands when the shops open.”

Several older residents said they were relieved that most pharmacies are open and could avail themselves of regular and timely medication.

While most colony gates have been closed in order to restrict thoroughfare, security guards are on duty. “We are getting paid and accommodation is not an issue. We stay in our cabins. The locals have been helping us with food too, twice a day. But I have come across news about thousands of migrant workers leaving the city on foot. It is heartbreaking,” said Akhilesh Kumar, himself a migrant from Bihar’s Darbhanga.

Malviya Nagar in south Delhi is a large neighbourhood, largely set up to accommodate refugees after the Partition. With time, the neighbourhood expanded to comprise a mix of planned areas, unauthorised colonies, villages, slums, and an industrial area-turned-residential locality, which is inhabited by wide demography.

“Ours is a densely populated neighbourhood. But we still manage to ensure safe social distancing when people are on the roads—queuing for essentials or walking their dogs,” said KC Rana, general secretary of the residents’ welfare association (RWA) in Khirki Extension, a middle-class locality within Malviya Nagar.

The association ensures that all precautionary measures are taken—vegetable vendors in the area wear gloves and residents are required to use a sanitiser, kept handy near the carts before they go on to pick vegetables. The timings for the kiosk are fixed—the timings often differing from one lane to another.

Malviya Nagar also has a popular market. The market, traders’ associations said, employs a large number of migrants in its shops. While several of them left for their villages before the lockdown was implemented, others still share common spaces, often within closed shops, to quarantine themselves. For food, they go to the nearest government school where meals are served twice a day, said Jagdish, who works in a footwear shop in the market.

“We will soon set up a community kitchen, but delivering food to the needy would be a problem. We don’t know where they live,” said Atul Kapoor, president of the South Delhi RWA federation.

“We also don’t want a large number of people to gather outside the community kitchen as that would be immensely risky in the light of the potential spread of the virus. For that, we are trying to coordinate with the police and the sub-divisional magistrate,” said Kapoor, who resides in Shivalik, an upscale neighbourhood in Malviya Nagar.

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