For homeless people, the crown is just a cold, the big concern is food
Originally from Kerala, the sexagenarian Raju Vellan has been in Goa for over 40 years and used to work as a day laborer before resorting to begging. He carries a pocket radio and a small Vicks VapoRub bathtub with him wherever he goes. “I have all the information about the crown,” he says with a touch of pride, hoping that it will be validated by his conscience.
“I have this if I catch a cold,” he adds, showing off the ointment.
Vellan sleeps on the sidewalks of Panaji like many other homeless people who beg for help during the day and fall asleep under the starry sky at night. On Sunday a friend gave him food and he is optimistic that his supporter will not starve him in the coming days as well. However, their counterparts are not aware of the dangers of the coronavirus, nor do they have access to food as a result of the prolonged curfew in Goa.
Faucina Fernandes, originally from Maina, has been foraging for food on the streets of Panaji for the past five years. I had no idea the reason behind the empty city streets or the coronavirus. All he knows is that there is no food. “I will have to starve,” she says.
As measures to address the potential outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic intensify, homeless people appear to have been ignored. While staying safe and infection-free for the homeless is a Herculean challenge, managing to eat even once a day is another battle.
Ramesh Rivonkar, 52, orders food near restaurants in the Panaji market and often manages to let customers feed on leftovers when they leave the hotel. With restaurants closing their blinds due to curfew, they starve to death on the streets as well as having absolutely no access to medical care or shelter. “I have seen people wearing masks and on the move due to a new epidemic. But I didn’t know about the curfew. I don’t know how to fill my stomach,” he says.
He managed to accumulate some money for begging last week, but was unable to buy food and water on Sundays and Mondays as the markets were closed. “Even if I decide to leave the city to go to another city, the buses are not operational,” he said, hoping that things would improve in the coming days.
Lack of a quarantine home and lack of sanitation make homeless people very vulnerable. The medical superintendent at the North Goa district hospital in Mapusa, Dr. Mohan Pednekar, however, says they are not yet at risk as they are not directly in the line of fire.
Hungry and homeless in Mumbai
At around 3 a.m. on Saturday, the police woke up the families under the overpass on the Western Express Highway near the Bahar Cinema in Mumbai. Brandishing lathis, the police asked families to move out of the area. The families, all from the Pardhi community, have been living here for decades and make a living selling green chilies, lemon, and balloons at stoplights. They are among the city’s homeless people who are now being evicted from the city as the civilian body and the police struggle with the coronavirus crisis.
Dhanaji Kale, who along with 30 others moved to Nalasopara, said they had no food and would starve if someone did not help them. “The police told us that we cannot stay for the crown. But our
ghar (home) are all there. How do we survive now? I ask.
On Charni Road, civic officials attempted to evict the homeless who stood firm, calling for an alternative. Radha Rajput who has been living here with five other families selling
gajras For a living, he said the outbreak halted his trade. “We had
atta (flour) that should last us two weeks. Ration shops are closed. Can you help us achieve something?
dal and rice? she said.
According to the 2011 census, there are 57,000 homeless people in Mumbai, but activists say there is at least 1 lakh. Fortunately, so far none have tested positive for Covid-19. The government should provide some relief, “said Brijesh Arya, founder of the NGO Homeless Collective. He said that the homeless are waged daily and that with everything closed many have no money or food. Sitaram Shelar of Pani Haq Samiti, a Popular campaign for universal access to water, said the government should provide some form of shelter for the homeless instead of driving them out of the city.
Fortunately for them, the city has inhabitants, who, moved by the difficult situation of these people, are offering a helping hand.
At around 11 a.m. on Sunday, Salim Shaikh, 23, from Kalyan, headed to the impoverished streets whose residents don’t know what a disinfectant means. In front of his bike, there was a container with about 50 packages of Biryani and Pulao vegetables. With the mask firmly in place and clean hands, Shaikh distributed these packages to salaried workers who were unable to pay for the purchase and were affected by the closure. Each time he delivered a lunch pack, the colleague made sure to inform the recipient of the precautions to be taken against the coronavirus. Shaikh belongs to Falah-e-Aam, a charitable trust. His group of about 20 members began handing out cookies for breakfast and packages of vegetarian food offered through a local vendor for lunch and dinner to workers this weekend.
“Not many of the poor are aware of the symptoms of the crown. We tell them to at least get an antibacterial hand wash, if not a hand sanitizer, ”says Shaikh, adding that the group is also considering distributing masks and disinfectants.
Arya said the government must help with food and provide empty buildings for these people to reside.
Out of work, homeless in Jaipur
With states blocked, borders sealed, and rail and bus services suspended, thousands of workers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha working in manufacturing units in industrial areas of Jaipur are stranded and disoriented. Engaged in garment and jewelry manufacturing units and the steel industries, most workers live in narrow rental houses in
bustees around the industrial areas of Malviya Nagar, Sitapura and Vishwakarma.
“Some of the workers have been paid the entirety of the days of the truncated month, but there are companies that have given only a partial amount that promises to transfer the rest of the money at the end of the month since each worker has bank accounts after the demonetization. Most of the workers were unable to return to their states due to the cancellation of trains and buses, ”said the owner of a factory in the Vishwakarma industrial area.
Lakhs of these people now live in unsanitary and impossible to live conditions at a time when there is a struggle for basic products. Some are even afraid of losing their homes if they cannot pay the rent on time. “It is not uncommon to find four to five people sharing a single room. When they used to come to the factory, there were fewer water, space and electricity requirements in their rented houses. But now they have to share everything. The prices of vegetables and other items have also increased due to the bans. Imagine your condition, ”said Digvijay Dhabariya, a factory owner in the Malviya Nagar industrial area.
Shelter houses reject homeless people in Chennai
The scare surrounding the coronavirus has also affected the homeless in Chennai, as night shelters are no longer supporting them. Shelter coordinators said they want to avoid overcrowding and are unable to accommodate any homeless person as it may put the safety and health of existing inmates at risk.
“Now we are suspicious of people, especially those who come from the north of Chennai because many people from there often travel to the north of the country. We don’t know what infection they could carry, “said D Jagadeesh, coordinator at a men’s shelter in Thiruvottiyur. The shelter has the capacity to house 50 but currently has around 24 inmates.” We have to make sure that these people are safe and we cannot take no risk, “he said.
To prevent the spread of Covid-19, all 50 shelters are taking precautionary measures, such as insisting on washing their hands, using disinfectants and masks, and avoiding overcrowding. “We admitted five new people last week because the police referred them to us. But now we have stopped, ”said K Palani, coordinator of an ICWO-run shelter for elderly men and women in Pattalam.
“But what about us? Are we not equally vulnerable to contracting the virus? “asked D Rajalakshmi, a daily gamble that with her two children and mother lives on a sidewalk in Choolai. Rajalakshmi said she was rejected from the Thiruvottiyur shelter and another shelter near Kelly’s lack of space.” They asked us to contact with a corporation official, to get tested and find another place, “he said.
R Arunachalam, another daily inhabitant of betting and paving in Besant Nagar, said: “The police do not want us on the streets and said that we would contract the virus. But the shelters are pulling us away. What are we supposed to do? “He asked.” Unless they’re referred by a corporation official and screened at a public health facility, we can’t let them in. We have to take care of our people here, “said A Sophia from a women’s shelter on Ibrahim Street.
Alby John Varghese, Deputy Commissioner (Health), Greater Chennai Corporation, said that even if they have temporarily stopped conducting rescue operations, all homeless individuals who come to the shelter individually for help will be admitted. “No one can be denied admission. We are also looking for other alternatives to keep them safe during this time. ”
Vanessa Peter, a policy researcher at the Information and Resources Center for Urban Private Communities, urged officials to open more shelters or at least accommodate homeless people in the hallways of the community.
“The ‘stay home’ advice unfortunately doesn’t work for the homeless,” he said.