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Social distancing, hygiene a challenge in India's slums

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Rohit Shishodia
Lack of awareness about Covid-19 among residents of Delhi's slums is becoming a big concern as people living in these slums do not follow social distancing, which is crucial to contain the corona virus that has killed 414 and infected 12380 in India so far.

In slums, the houses are so congested that people cannot maintain the distance from each other which is recommended by doctors. As the Government of India has enforced a lockdown to contain the virus, they are following social distancing only for name's sake and they are out of the shanties on to the roads as if it is a picnic or a festival for them to celebrate.

It may be noted that the Indian Health Ministry has declared North West Delhi as a hotspot where cases of corona virus have increased. In Mumbai too, seventy one people have tested positive for corona virus in Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum. There is always a big chance that with people ignoring social distancing and not maintaining hygiene, the deadly virus can spread in these slums.   

Another issue people face is lack of hygiene. Availability of safe drinking water and adequate sewage disposal is not up to the mark in the clusters. Not only awareness but lack of sanitation facility is also a hurdle to contain the virus, which has increased alarmingly in Delhi.  

There are a large number of shanties in Patparganj area of East Delhi. These shanties are located alongside the National Highway-24. Whenever police personnel patrol or a police gypsy takes a round near the clusters, people enter the shanties to avoid detention.

When the police leave the area, they again come out on the roads. Many residents don’t wear face mask, unmindful that the virus can infect them.

Similarly, people living in the slums in Shashi Garden, Patparganj, don’t follow social distancing. It is becoming a challenge for the police to keep them inside their shanties. Many children living in the cluster violate social distancing and play cricket in the park bang opposite the cluster.

Many people roam freely outside the cluster. Earlier, the police used to come to the area to ensure social distancing and to keep people their homes. But that is not happening any more. Just a few policemen take a round to take stock of the situation.

However, lack of eatables to satiate their hunger and of money to keep body and soul together has become a major concern. People living in clusters near Indraprasth Power House, Rajghat, are facing major problem due to lack of food. The access to their shanties is not easy and they depend for food on donors and government workers. The people are not fully aware of the corona virus but they thank God that the virus has not affected any of them.


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