Residents’ associations in a fix over allowing domestic helps, walks

Published on May 04, 2020 11:27 PM IST
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HT Image
BySadia Akhtar, Gurugram

The district administration on Monday night allowed residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) to put in place guidelines for domestic workers such as maids, drivers, dhobis, tailors, car cleaners and others coming in from outside, as per their own needs. The administration also added that workers, including maids, from containment zones were prohibited from coming in.

In a late-night order on Monday, the administration also shared details pertaining to the movement of people in and out of the condominium. RWAs have been asked to ensure that entry for non-essential visitors (family, non-family, trainers) is limited. Residents with health conditions and those who need to walk their pets are allowed to move about within the condominium complex. For pets, only a 15-minute walk is allowed. RWAs said that they were holding consultations with all stakeholders and decisions were subject to review in light of the government order.

Before the orders were issued, the first day of the third phase of the lockdown was fraught with intense discussions among RWAs and residents, with the entry of domestic help and timings for walks becoming major points of contention. Many residents said that apartment complexes and RWAs were creating and enforcing their own rules. RWAs, meanwhile, said that the rules were fairly open-ended and ambiguous, due to which arriving at a decision was tricky.

At several places, such as DLF Phase 2 and World Spa in Sector 30, residents have been allowed to call in domestic help. At Fresco Apartments, Princeton Estate, restrictions on the entry of domestic help continue, while residents are allowed to move about. At Emaar Palm Drive, restrictions were overturned by evening after residents raised objections to the one on domestic help. Residents are also allowed to take walks within the condominium during fixed timings.

Entry of Domestic Help

The RWA of DLF phase 2 has allowed domestic help to come in and advised them to wear masks. “We have asked residents to ensure that domestic workers maintain hygiene and are given sanitiser bottles. They have been asked to not gather in groups,” Wahi said. He added that construction work within the locality had started as well. “Construction material has started coming in and work has also started in full swing,” he said. The central shopping arcade, however, continues to remain closed.

At Fresco Apartments in Nirvana Country, restrictions continue on the entry of domestic staff. The condominium has not shared any revised guidelines and is sticking to the advisories shared earlier. “We received the order from the administration late at night and will be issuing new guidelines in response by tomorrow. Till the time that’s done, the status quo will be maintained,” Nilesh Tandon, president, Fresco RWA, sai.

Tandon, however, said that the RWA was not stopping residents from moving about. “We can’t stop people from moving around since we don’t have the authority. We are not a law enforcement agency. Even if people are walking, action has to be taken by the police, not us,” Tandon said.

Residents of the condominium, meanwhile, said that the entry of domestic help could be initiated with proper screening. Aparnaa Laxmi Singh, a resident of Park Place in Sector 30, said that intense discussions were taking place among residents over the entry of domestic help. “Senior citizens are very much affected due to the restrictions on domestic help. Even others are under strain and in favour of maids being allowed. However, as of now, the restrictions on domestic help continue,” Laxmi said.

Another resident of a condominium in Sector 66, who did not wish to be named, said that RWAs were exercising arbitrary power. “Many people are in favour of bringing in domestic help, but the RWA is not allowing that except in the case of senior citizens. The RWA is not incorporating our suggestions, be it on the entry of domestic help or fixing timings for walks. There were around 500 messages exchanged on the Whatsapp group but to no avail,” the resident said.

Aarogya Setu screening

Several condominiums across the city are making Aarogya Setu screening mandatory for outsiders coming in. World Spa in Sector 30 has made it mandatory for outsiders, including domestic help, to download the app.

Ashwani Singla, president of The World Spa Apartment Owners’ Association, said that the condominium had been following an extensive screening process for the past few weeks, which was being carried forward to mitigate any risks. “We have been conducting mandatory Aarogya Setu screening for all our domestic staff and delivery persons for a while now. We have extended that to our maids now,” Singla said. While everyone was supposed to comply with the screening process, exceptions were being made for residents who had reservations about downloading the app due to privacy concerns.

At Wellington Estate in DLF-5, technicians and service providers will only be permitted inside if they have the Aarogya Setu app installed. As per the latest advisory, residents are also required to install the app. Vineet Bagga, RWA member, Wellington Estate, however, said that the app was not compulsory for residents. “The rule regarding Aarogya Setu app only applies to people who might come in for servicing and other jobs. Residents are not bound to install the app,” Bagga said.

Walking within the complex

Condominiums have given different timings to residents for walking within the complexes. Residents have been asked to abide by physical distancing protocols. The guidelines vary across condominiums. At Wellington Estate, residents will be allowed to walk in the complex every day from 5pm to 10 am on a trial basis, to begin with. Only solo walking is permitted.

At Emaar Palm Drive, residents can walk between 5 am and 8am, and 6pm and 9pm. They have been asked to limit their walk times to 30 minutes and ensure that they walk around the complex clockwise. Residents have been asked to self-regulate and ensure that people do not gather. Some residents, however, said that specific timings were not practical and might lead to over-crowding.

Amit Chowdhury, president, Palm Drive Condominium Association, said that the RWA would be issuing guidelines after incorporating instructions from the administration. “The rules are open-ended and we are taking suggestions from people to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Guidelines will be issued after taking cognizance of the latest instructions,” Chowdhury said.

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