Resident associations in Chennai get ready for the new normal

Photo: Prashant Nakwe

Photo: Prashant Nakwe  

With May 31 looming large, this is the week when resident welfare associations may have to seriously look at preparing for the new normal.

So, there is a tumble of questions coming their way — foremost among them are: How do we get used to the new normal and at the same time follow all safety measures, which were so much easier to follow as the world had not opened up? Are there any precedents to go by?

Of course, these are questions that are having many management committee members putting on their best-fitting thinking caps.

Domestic help

The question of allowing domestic help to resume work continues to harry residents’ associations. In some apartments, committee members and residents have locked horns over this question. Many apartment associations, however, are not ready to relax this rule. They want residents to wait till the end of the month, and then deliberate on the question.

At Jains Inseli Park, a gated community in Padur, the maintenance staff and those having a valid government pass are allowed access to the society. However, those dependent on domestic help have to wait till fresh guidelines on the matter come from the State government.

“Recently, a working couple wanted us to allow a babysitter as they had to report to work. It was tough for us to decline but we had to stick to our decision. We asked them to allow the maid to stay with them and even offered that the ladies group in the society will take care of the toddler, but it finally boils down to the child’s comfort factor,” says Lavanya Veera, secretary, Inseli Park Owners’ Association.

The gated community is not encouraging children to play in the common areas and the security guard shoos them away. Some apartments with multiple domestic help have relaxed the rule by allowing just one helper.

Relaxing the rules

Radiance Mercury, an apartment complex with 400 flats in Perumbakkam, recently took a poll on the Adda tool that it invested in six months ago. Questions were put to residents. Should we follow the existing guidelines with entry for all vendors until 4 p.m./ relax them a bit/ continue same guidelines till May 31. “Based on the outcome of the poll, we started allowing house maids but they have to wind up work by 4 p.m.,” says K. Satish Karthik, a block representative. He says the Association is next working on conducting an owners’ meeting. “We have not met for two months due to the lockdown, but now it has become necessary to discuss the other steps we have to plan as we have to live with virus in the city,” says Karthik.

Shopping for tools

In this new normal, how do we reconcile having to allow movement of people with having safety measures in place? Many residential societies are investing in new tools and equipment. A 16-flat apartment complex in Anna Nagar is investing in a touchless sanitiser machine, upgrading from the bottle kept at the entrance.

Vikramaditya Apartments in Vepery is investing in new tools to carry out checks, as more people in the neighbourhood are testing positive for COVID-19.

Panchavathi Apartments at Gandhi Nagar met on Saturday to discuss how to disinfect the apartment premises on a regular basis instead of relying on the Corporation.

The necessity of not only wearing a mask, but wearing it right, should be drilled into people’s heads.

“Although the coconut vendor had a mask, he was not using it. I politely asked him to wear it and also told him people would not buy coconuts from him, if he did not use the mask. I think each of us have a responsibility to ensure people wear it,” says H.U. Zehra.

Learning from others

Some RWAs are taking inspiration from others, including from other cities, to see if they have taken all necessary steps to resume normal activity post the lockdown. “We are following all necessary steps to keep residents in our society safe, but I wanted to validate whether what we do is on par with the best that others are following and if there are any new lessons to learn from them and so I met with representatives from three other associations,” says Lavanya of Inseli Park.

One of the main concerns that representatives of apartment complexes that she met on OMR and Pudupakkam had was the security challenge at the gate once lockdown is fully relaxed.

Regulating the flow of people, checking temperature, ensuring they wear masks... all this is going to add to the rush at the gate. “We are planning to start training our security personnel from May 24 and we are also planning to introduce a Q system at the gate,” she says.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 7:07:16 AM |

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