RWAs face hurdles as they planto set up COVID care facilities

People carrying oxygen cylinders for free refilling provided by RWA of Turkman Gate in Delhi on Wednesday.  

The concept to set up small COVID care facility in residential areas was a novel initiative, but practical difficulties have made life difficult for Resident Welfare Associations in the Capital. Several RWAs are thus facing hurdles in establishing these centres in residential areas as per the guidelines.

Nothing has vexed them as procuring oxygen cylinders, a shortage the whole country is reeling under. Saurabh Gandhi, Rana Pratap Bagh RWA president and member of United Residents of Delhi (URD), said they possess four oxygen cylinders of 10 litres each while another one was to reach them. But that is proving to be inadequate.

“We are getting calls for oxygen cylinders every few minutes. All our cylinders are currently with residents. We are also helping people with contacts to buy oxygen cylinders, whoever can afford them. But it’s been extremely tough,” he said.

This RWA has been able to help 11 persons with oxygen in the last few days. “Oxygen, in these times, is being prioritised to those that desperately need it and can’t find a hospital bed,” he added.

Facilitating oxygen

Rajiv Kakria (62), member of an RWA in Greater Kailash, said they possess just two oxygen concentrators and a cylinder and hence, facing acute shortage. “We [RWAs] are possibly doing more than what the government is. Four days ago, a person needed to be admitted to a hospital because his oxygen levels dropped. We provided him with oxygen concentrator. Unfortunately, he died Wednesday morning,” he said.

B.S. Vohra, a resident of Krishna Nagar and president of East Delhi RWA Joint Front Federation, said while they don’t have oxygen cylinders in their possession, they are trying their best to facilitate oxygen. “We are helping people in need with information and making calls for them. The situation, however, is terrible,” he said.

Their woes don’t end there. Mr. Kakria said they could not get the builder to agree to lend building space to set up the COVID care centre. “There is stigma. The builder says he won’t be able to sell any flat for the next one year,” he said, adding that doctors were exhausted and no one was willing to consult.

Mr. Gandhi said they have a community hall in their area which they could have turned into a COVID care facility and they had also spoken to doctors who were willing to consult but they couldn’t find nursing staff. “The cost of one nursing staff is about ₹25,000 a month but either they are not available or they are demanding ₹80,000 for a month. It is not affordable,” he said.

Managing perils

He also said that given the situation, they wouldn’t be able to manage the facility because people need oxygen, which they are hard-pressed to provide. “For refilling an oxygen cylinder, one has to wait for two hours in the queue. Earlier, the price of refilling was ₹50-₹100 and now it has crossed ₹400,” he said.

Talking about house helps being allowed in colonies, members said that unlike last lockdown, this time, house helps are allowed in most of the localities. It’s down to individual residents whether to hire them or not. “We have told everyone that if they decide not to call them, they have to pay their salaries,” Mr. Vohra said.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 3:45:11 AM |

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