Gurugram turns into a ghost town on Sunday
Eerily quiet roads, devoid of traffic, deserted markets and empty community spaces marked city’s residential and industrial sectors on Sunday as Gurugram went into lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. As most of the city’s hubs remained shut, on account of administrative orders as well the janta curfew, Gurugram turned into a ghost town.
Condominiums across the city barred entry to outsiders and domestic staff, while residential areas, such as Sushant Lok-I, sectors 57 and 14, and Nirvana Country in Sector 50, shut their gates closed to stop any movement to and from the societies.
There was little or no traffic movement at the city’s usual traffic bottlenecks on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway and the Kherki Daula toll plaza. Buses and shared autos also stayed off the roads.
Hospitals and essential services, such as pharmacies, were the only places where public presence could be detected on Sunday. At the Civil Hospital in Sector 10, there was a sharp reduction in the number of visitors, compared to the last few days, as only a few people were waiting to give their samples for the Covid-19 test. Till noon, five samples were collected, said officials.
A couple, residents of Sector 15, said that they had to wait for an hour for their turn. “The sample collection process is slow. Since it was an off day, we expected the rush to be less than what we experienced on Saturday,” said the man, who had recently visited European countries. “We wanted to get ourselves tested since travel history is a criterion for the Covid-19 test,” the woman, who was seated at a distance from her husband due to cough, said.
There was little rush at private hospitals too. A senior security official at a prominent private hospital said that footfall had been comparatively lower than the last few days. “The crowd is 50-70% smaller, due to the janta curfew. Further, the hospital administration took a few precautionary steps to manage the situation. No billing activity took place on Sunday and one attendant was assigned per patient,” he said.
On Sunday, members of various residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) across the city undertook monitoring drives to ensure that safety norms are being adhered to. However, many residents said that they were forced to confine themselves to their homes, as groups of people were not allowing them to even step out of their apartments.They said that the curfew, instead of being self-imposed, as asked by the Prime Minister, was being forced on them.
Many who went for a morning walk on Sunday were forced to return home. “We were confronted by other residents when we stepped out around 6.30am. People started shouting at us and asked us to return home. Soon after, people started name shaming us on the society’s WhatsApp groups for violating the janta curfew,” a senior citizen, residing in Fresco Apartments in Sector 50, said.
The confrontation was diffused after the RWA intervened and asked residents not to panic or circulate hateful messages against others. Nilesh Tandon, Fresco RWA president, said that there was some confusion over the Prime Minister’s address, which was interpreted in different ways. “People were confused whether isolation under janta curfew meant sticking to their respective apartments or the larger condominium complex. Some people stepped out for their morning walks within the condominium’s complex, as usual. Senior citizens, especially, find it difficult to break their routine. Accordingly, we had shared advisories stating that the elderly could walk with their family members without forming groups, shaking hands or talking to each other,” said Tandon.
Residents of Ivy Apartment in Sector 28 said they were denied permission for the morning walk and were confined to their homes. “In response to the Prime Minister’s call, all movement, except in case of medical emergencies, was curtailed,” said Vijay Chopra, RWA president, Ivy Apartment, Sector 28.
Residents said the day was unlike any other Sunday they had experienced in the city. “Everybody in our complex followed the lockdown today (Sunday). None of the household helps came in and there was hardly any activity. The silence was eerie but couldn’t be avoided. Social isolation has become imperative now,” said Shalini Vig, a resident of Hamilton Court in Sector 28.
The only significant activity of the day was at 5pm, when the residents came together, albeit at their respective balconies, to show their appreciation and gratitude to people employed in essential services. Vig, along with others from her complex, also participated in a five-minute musical drill in the evening.
(With inputs from Archana Mishra)