About a week before Prime Minister Narendra Maudie announced the 21-day national blockade, Acriti Sehgal (29), a resident of the northern district of Panjshil Park, went to the nearest department store to stock up on basic necessities and found that some items were already out of stock. She said the customers were shopping.
Personally, I don’t feel much difference in the colony after the confinement. But since there are no grocery stores or markets in the area and the nearest ones are at least a few kilometres away, buying basic necessities has become our main concern, said Mr Sehgal, who was born and raised in South Delhi. She lives nearby with her parents and brother.
Six days after the announcement of the closure to control the spread of Covid-19, Panchsheel Park will look as peaceful as the rest of the country. The colony, founded in the 1960s, is located in three blocks – north, east and south, on both sides of the Outer Ring Road.
Of the seven doors in the south block, only one was open for entrances and exits. On the other hand, the area of the northern and eastern blocks is designed so that both gates are open, said Himangshu Weishe, president of the cooperative and designated housing protection association (RWA) and Panjshil Park.
We provided gloves, masks and disinfectants for the guards and garbage collectors of the colony. As far as domestic workers are concerned, we have not imposed any restrictions and we have left the decision on access to the individual residents, he added.
The public parks in the region are also closed to people gathering there, and access is restricted to gardeners.
Although, according to Vaish, the RIA has published a list of telephone numbers where the necessary goods can be ordered, the residents complained that they could not buy food during the first two days of the blockade.
Maybe because the people in the region don’t have much to do with each other, it’s hard to get information about how things work, Sehgal said. She added that although there is a problem with the grocery store, the greengrocers come to the colony and save them from trouble.
Pravin Sharma (56), also a native of the North Bloc, said the lack of access to basic needs leads to overcrowding and hustle and bustle in nearby markets.
I still see people walking on the street in groups of three or four at night, she says.
However, in this time of crisis, the people in the region also coordinate their actions to help the people in need. We have a volunteer group that looks after the needs of the elderly and another group that feeds stray animals, Weisch said.
He also said that the Panchshil Club, a neighboring hooded club now closed to residents, provides food for distribution to the poor throughout the city. The RWA-run club contacted several NGOs and also distributed food to police officers and public service volunteers.