New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) All that Sushila Kaushalya Devi, a domestic worker from Madanpur Khadar in the national capital, wants right now is to go back to work. With her meagre savings dwindling by the day and no means of travel to C R Park where she works, Sushila is uncertain of the future.
“I hope they allow autos, or at least buses to function from Monday. Then I will be able to go back to work, and also collect my salary for the last two months from some of my employers. Although I am not sure if I will be able to afford an auto if they ask for more than the usual fare,” she said.
As the authorities extended the ongoing countrywide lockdown to contain COVID-19 spread till May 31, people from different walks of life hoped to get back to some semblance of what was normal while maintaining an abundance of caution against the novel coronavirus that refuses to go away.
While many of her fellow domestic workers have managed to resume work, Sushila continues to be stuck at her home in Madanpur Khadar because to reach her area of work in C R Park, she needs to travel a distance of over 12 kms, which is impossible without any public transport.
“Living in this lockdown is becoming very difficult. One of my employers lent me Rs 6,000 to keep my household running, but how long can I continue like this? I just want to go back to work,” she told PTI.
During the 3rd phase of the nationwide lockdown starting from May 4, the Centre had allowed some relaxations, including reopening of non-essential stores.
However, in a recent video conference with chief ministers of several states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested opening of more economic activities in the country in the coming days, including resumption of some train services, 'Slowly but surely, economic activities have begun to pick up in several parts of the country. In the coming days, this process will further gather steam. We must realize that the fight against COVID-19 has to be more focused now.
“Going forward, the road ahead should be focused on reducing the spread and ensuring that all precautions are taken by people including social distancing norms by observing ‘Do Gaj Doori’ (six-feet distance),' Modi had said.
While understanding the need to open up economic activities, Nikitha Phyllis, a media professional from Gurgaon, has a “bad feeling” about lifting the lockdown.
“Strict rules and enforcement should be put in place if people are going to be allowed out more, to prevent another scene like the one outside liquor shops.
“I personally want to go out only when the city is virus free. Lockdown should be lifted for economic purposes, but I have a bad feeling (that) social distancing will go for a toss,” Phyllis said.
Since the lockdown was implemented on March 25 for the first time, several corporations had announced salary deductions to cover up for the slump.
In the next phase, Prachi, a PR professional, hopes for better conditions for the “less fortunate”, supply of non-essentials, and a full salary.
“I hope they allow delivery of non-essentials, especially electronics as I am having issues working from home without a laptop. Also, maybe a system can be implemented for delivery of food for the less fortunate, just like the door-to-door delivery of voting slips. Last but not the least, I wish we get our complete salary this month,” Prachi said.
Prachi received a pay cut of 10 per cent in April and March.
It is not just going back to work and receiving full salaries that have people worried during the lockdown. B Sundaresan, a resident of Rohini, has been suffering with the pain of wisdom tooth for a few days now but there's nowhere to go.
“I don't have a personal vehicle, and cabs are not running in my area. It's getting difficult with each passing day, I have been taking painkillers but what I need is a dentist,” he said.
With all the things he has been hearing and reading about the migrants, Sanjeev Saxena, a fruit vendor in south Delhi's Govindpuri area, said he considered himself fortunate and would be satisfied if things continued to work for him as they are now.
“My landlord has been very kind. Unlike my other migrant brothers, I haven't been thrown out of the house because I can't pay rent. And, thankfully I have been able to open my shop for 2-3 hours a day, making enough money to feed myself.
“Of course, I am not being able to save anything. But, that is not the priority at the moment. At least I am not going hungry, at least I have a roof over my head. Most of my migrant brothers are dying not because of the coronavirus, but because of starvation, or just simply collapsing while trying to walk thousands of miles to reach home,” Saxena (30), who hails from a village in Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh, said.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Sunday extended the countrywide lockdown till May 31 to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has so far infected nearly 91,000 people in India and killed at least 2,872.
The NDMA has directed the National Executive Committee, headed by the Union Home Secretary, to issue modifications in the guidelines as necessary, keeping in view the need to open up economic activities while containing the spread of the deadly virus. PTI MAH/TRS MAH SMN SMN