Life inside Bengaluru’s two containment zones

Residents of two wards are facing shortage of milk and vegetables; many are worried about ration running out

April 12, 2020 12:04 am | Updated 12:04 am IST - Bengaluru

People seen outdoors even after roads were blocked in Bapujinagar ward, in Bengaluru on Saturday. Bapujinagar and J.J. Nagar wards, which fall under the red zone, were the first two areas to be completely sealed off by the BBMP.

People seen outdoors even after roads were blocked in Bapujinagar ward, in Bengaluru on Saturday. Bapujinagar and J.J. Nagar wards, which fall under the red zone, were the first two areas to be completely sealed off by the BBMP.

On a street at Bapujinagar, Shabbir Ahmed, a senior citizen, waited outside a Nandini milk booth on Saturday afternoon. It had a small handwritten board announcing that it will open by 5 p.m. He had two hours to wait, but already a small group of people had arrived there. “We haven’t had milk in two days now. There are children at home,” said Mr. Ahmed, his mask muffling some of the words.

Residents in two wards — Padarayanapura and Bapujinagar — that were sealed on Friday after being declared COVID-19 containment zones are struggling to adjust to the new life. Five positive cases were reported in the area.

However, vehicles, especially two-wheelers, were seen entering and leaving the containment zone. Several people also entered and left these zones on foot. But their movement was relatively restricted as the residents themselves have blocked most of the roads with stones and tree branches. This is over and above the barricades put up by the police.

A health survey is under way in both the wards. “Most of the residents are cooperating with the survey. As far as we have observed, flu or even common cold is not prevalent in these areas,” said Shanta, a nurse conducting the survey in one of the areas, and added that there was a need for an awareness campaign to sensitise citizens about COVID-19.

Fresh supply

Shortage of milk and vegetables are the biggest complaints of residents of these areas. “There has been no milk or vegetables for two days, contrary to announcements made about auto-rickshaws and pushcarts being deployed for the service,” said Subhadra Bai, a resident of Shamanna Garden.

The councillors of Bapujinagar and Padarayanapura told The Hindu that their wards got only 900 litres and 3,000 litres of milk, respectively, on Saturday. They held multiple meetings on Saturday with civic authorities, who promised to improve milk supply from Sunday. “We have made arrangements for supply of vegetables also from Sunday. We have kept two entry and exit points open, and have identified people with pushcarts in our wards who will be given vegetables and fruits at specified points,” said Imran Pasha, councillor, Padarayanapura.

Saleem Ahmed, a resident of Padarayanpura, said the area had a large demography of poor labourers working in the beedi sector, stitching bags, and rolling incense sticks. Most of them work from home, but that has now stopped. “The supply of food and rations to the poor is key, but it has not begun,” he said.

Families who are financially stable are worried, too. “We have rations for the next few days. All shops are closed and if our experience is anything to go by, we cannot depend on the civic authorities,” said Anuradha, a resident of Bapujinagar.

The two councillors have asked the civic administration to distribute ration kits, not just to the poor but to all households in the two wards. “When we have sealed down the entire wards, it is our duty to ensure that citizens have a comfortable life at home if we want them to cooperate. If that is not done, they will grow restless,” said Azmal Baig, councillor, Bapujinagar.

Mr. Pasha, councillor, Padarayanapura, had a similar opinion. “Universal distribution of ration kits is the need of the hour,” he said. Bapujinagar and Padarayanapura have placed requests for 25,000 and 12,000 ration kits, respectively, based on the number of households in these wards.

“We will soon take a call and provide for ration to all the needy,” said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, BBMP, nodal officer for distribution of ration kits in the city.

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