New Town Heights: Locked inside, Gurugram residents cook for needy in their neighbourhood
Stay home, stay safe. But for hundreds of migrant families in the vicinity of Sector 91, staying home means staying hungry.
To ensure that neither coronavirus disease (Covid-19), nor hunger claim lives in their neighbourhood, residents of New Town Heights in Sector 86 have been, through a self-motivated group of resident volunteers, sending simple meals every day by cooking a little extra in their own kitchens.
“We have placed a cardboard box in the lobby of each of the 12 towers. Residents were told that the collection will be made at 12pm every day. They can wrap the food in aluminium foils and place it there. It can be anything from roti-sabzi to paratha. The residents have picked up on the initiative and we are close to doubling the number of food packets we collected on the first day when we started,” said Bikas Jha, a resident.
In the past five days, since the initiative started, the meal contribution from the condominium of 3,800 residents has doubled from 70 meals to 150, as on Wednesday.
The packets collected are distributed to those in need in the low-income neighbourhood of Sector 91, where a large section of the population comprises of migrants mostly employed as domestic helps or daily wage earners.
Jha added that the society, which is a part of the DLF Garden City township, has also collected about ₹17,000 to be distributed among nine families of women who work in the society and have been severely hit by the 21-day nationwide lockdown to check community spread of Covid-19.
NO ‘WALK IN THE PARK’ THIS
Among the several stringent measures taken to ensure social distancing, the society has been maintaining a strict no-walks policy. Residents have been advised to stay inside their apartments and those disobeying are given a strict warning and educated about the deadly respiratory disease that has infected about 15,00,000 people wordwide.
“Thrice a day we announce on loudspeakers that residents should not be taking walks in the condominium compound. We have been doing this repeatedly to ensure residents’ safety,” said Yatinder Bhatiya, estate manager of the society.
He added that to ease the boredom of staying inside all the time, the management plays soft music throughout the day through speakers placed around the compound.
RELAXATION FOR PET PARENTS
For pet owners looking to take their pets for a walk, the society has created “relief areas” outside the society gate. Only one resident is allowed to walk one pet at a time. When they return, they have to mandatorily wash their hands.
The society has put in place a list of stringent norms to avoid crowding at the departmental store that caters to their daily needs and a grocery vendor who arrives twice a week.
“The vendor is here twice a week and we maintain social distancing. At the store, circles have been drawn at a gap of one foot for residents to stand in so as to avoid being too close to each other and crowd,” said Jigar Shah, a resident.
Medical health experts recommend a gap of at least 1 metre or 6 feet between two people to ensure the virus cannot be transmitted while sharing a common space.
The store staff wears masks and gloves at all times while on duty.
All door-step deliveries have been discontinued. Orders placed on e-commerce sites or applications are delivered at the tower lobby. From here, selected volunteer residents deliver them to the apartments, Shah said, adding that people do not move out of their apartments unless absolutely needed.
BOARDING FOR STAFF
The society, like many others, has provided accommodation to close to 75 staff members to ensure they do not go home and risk their lives or that of their families. This staff is responsible for housekeeping, cleaning, maintenance, horticulture and other tasks.
Vacant townhouses and clubhouses have been furnished with basics to ensure they can stay comfortably, and all their meals are cooked in the now-shut club house.
“Mattresses, bedsheets and pillows were provided to the staff. They are provided free meals three times a day. The meals are cooked inside the club kitchen,” Bhatiya said.
Residents wishing to step outside the condominium have to sign a self-declaration form stating their reason for going out. “We are maintaining record of residents stepping outside the compound. They have to declare their reason for stepping out,” said Bhatiya.
The condominium has made it mandatory for all those passing through its gates, residents and support staff, to wash their hands before entering. Wash basins have been installed at the gate and everyone also has to sanitise their hands in the tower lobby as well.
PARTY’S NOW ONLINE
In the absence of social gatherings, virtual interactions have come alive among residents. Online groups on messaging platforms have become information exchange centres and play a key role in keeping residents engaged.
“We often have residents share games or puzzles in the chat groups to keep spirits high,” said Shah.
The society also has a ladies kirtan group which kept residents engaged and cheerful during the recently concluded Navratri festival.