Bajirao road residents see footpath dwellers as potential super spreaders; police promise action
Now, they call it their permanent home as they get daily meal packets and it is source of constant fear for residents of Bajirao road who believe that without masks, proper hygiene and social distancing, these homeless individuals living off the footpath may become super spreaders of Covid-19 infectionUpdated: Sep 15, 2020 16:11 IST
The lockdown had been implemented to ensure that the chain of the virus spread is broken, however, there were many whose lives had been uprooted because of the pandemic. Among them were 50 homeless individuals who moved to the footpaths near Maharana Pratap Garden to get daily supply of ration from the food packets distributed there during the lockdown.
Now, they call it their permanent home as they get daily meal packets and it is source of constant fear for residents of Bajirao road who believe that without masks, proper hygiene and social distancing, these homeless individuals living off the footpath may become super spreaders of the Sars-Cov-2 virus which causes the Covid-19 infection. (Super spreaders are potential carriers of the viral infection who could infect a large number of people coming in their contact.)
Residents have raised the issue with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and also the police department, but no action has been taken so far.
Ashish Mahadalkar, PMC assistant municipal commissioner and Kasba Vishrambaugwada ward officer accepted the possible threat of the virus spread among the locals due to the homeless individuals. “I have personally written twice to the local police station to take action against them. We have also received complaints from citizens and as a precautionary measure we sanitise the footpath and nearby areas regularly, but these homeless individuals need to be shifted. There is a risk of spreading the infection,” said Mahadalkar.
As on September 13, Kasba peth ward, which covers Bajirao road, had 96 active Covid cases. According to Mahadalkar, these 96 cases were spread across the ward with some cases reported from the area around Maharana Pratap garden.
The area has a garden, a bus stop, a telephone office, a small snack centre, one restaurant and several other shops, which makes it crowded throughout the day. “I board the bus for my office from the bus stop near Maharana Pratap Garden daily and see these homeless individuals on the footpath with their belongings. They eat and sleep here and the entire footpath lacks hygiene. Police should immediately take action and PMC should clean the footpaths,” said Archana Pathak, a resident.
Kalpana B, president of Subhashnagar senior citizens group, which is close to this spot, said, “Citizens living in the area are afraid of crossing the road because of the fear of virus spread. The Covid cases are rising here, the civic administration needs to take action against them. We have filed a complaint with the local police station and are awaiting their action.”
Bharat Jadhav, senior police inspector at Khadak police station, under whose jurisdiction this area comes, said, “These homeless individuals came here from different parts of the city during the lockdown to get food. NGOs still continue to give them food packets daily, so they made the footpath their home. We have received complaints from residents and this week, we will take necessary action. All of them will be taken to government shelter homes.”