South City-1 Broadcast June 20
All Blocks, The Retreat & The Palms
Domestic Workers Are Leaving South City!
We Need To Act Now
by Jyoti Grover (South City-1, 98100 71537)
Just as COVID has disrupted our lives and continues to do so in areas hitherto unimagined, I am constantly reminded of how being home interminably has scheduled our daily hours...For a lark, I drew up the unending list of household chores that my family and I have personally been immersed in these last few months and this list is really telling.
The absence of the familiar house support has never been so sorely missed !!
While some residents do have their part-timers rejoining in bits and starts; a few residents from the community reached out to me regarding the availability of domestic staff. On cue I set out to find out the ground reality.
The reality is that gardeners part-time maids, drivers, security staff are scarce and this availability will only get worse. There has been a mass exodus from Sainikhera, Silokhra, Jharsa, and clusters of urban slums around South City 1 which housed most of our domestic supports. The remainders, I spoke to, also shared that many of them plan to leave in the next few weeks. For most, financial insecurity coupled with the dread of the pandemic led to their exit. A lot who remain, are also facing trouble from the law enforcement.
This data surprised me. If full salaries are being paid by residents, why would labor leave and exit in such numbers? In my conversations with residents, staff, and landlords, I received very conflicting responses. Most employers claimed that they have been paying regular monthly wages to their house helps since March 2020. Maids, drivers, and gardeners rued that very few have received a full salary. In fact, 70% or more part-timers received only 35 % to 40 % of their monthly wage. With their spouses out of work ( since factories and retail are shut and only partially reopening ) and rental liability ranging from 3500 to 6000 a month, most domestic workers are living with a huge financial burden. Add living expenses and lack of medical cover; it is practically difficult for them to continue with the status quo. Landlords have their own tales to narrate with many of their rooms being vacated some in the middle of the night to avoid paying piling debts
With increasing demand, the average wage which today ranges from 6000 to 12000 for an 8-hour workload is set to rise, and more importantly, what are the odds that this lot will be available for work in the future?
The situation today is that this major section of the informal economy is a marginalized group with a precarious livelihood, and the extent of their socio-economic vulnerability has been exposed since the lockdown. Their fear of the pandemic and the anticipated surge in illness is also very real as confirmed In a recent serological survey by ICMR that urban slums have a higher propensity to be infected
So what does this mean for us? Time for SCRWA and residents, the south city community to come up with an inclusive intervention that recognizes our symbiotic relationship and creates an ecosystem that nurtures and develops people who help us
Here are some suggestions that I urge you all to consider :
Create a bureau for domestic workers at the community level. This bureau can be the local registration authority for prospective job seekers. The bureau should also look at work-related wage rates (factoring in the minimum wages Act) and medical and pensionary benefits for the unorganised workforce
Additionally, the bureau could coordinate
Beneficiary life and medical insurance. ( I am not a great fan of EPFO or ESI and strongly suggest private insurance covers, savings, and medical support. The large numbers should get the private operators /NGOs involved skilling programs to help family members get trained in specific skills be it babysitting, cooking driving, or horticulture for better employability. Basic legal literacy especially relating to IPC, POSH and POCSO
Anganwadis and childcare spaces for maids to leave their young ones in the care of responsible adults.
Talent Discovery sessions. This category has hidden talents waiting to be discovered. All they need is a platform and an opportunity
Admission and tuition support for workers children through tie-ups with local schools
Mental health support. This section of society is as vulnerable to mental health issues as us They need opportunities for socialization and celebration and access to experts in the event of mental health issues
Should you see merit in these proposals do write to us at Samvada. Write to us at
Covid- 19 Isolation hubs – Boon or Bane?
Dr Savita Nagpal (98185 70658, B 86 South City 1)
Gurugram has registered 1,700 new cases in the past 10 days and 20 deaths in the past four days. The Health Department found a lack of precaution by home-isolated, as one of the key causes of transmission. With ICMR recommending home-isolation for asymptomatic patients, 85 percent of Gurugram’s patients have been home-isolated, but the majority have raised issues like lack of separate toilets or high numbers of residents in homes as key concerns. So, the authorities have decided to switch from home-isolation to isolation near home. The Health Department, in a letter to HSVP and Municipal Corporation, has sought conversion of all community centres into decentralised isolation wards. (The Tribune, Thursday 18, June 2020)
The battle lines are drawn and swords unsheathed, as the Virus looks on, amused.
The public at large is at loggerheads with the Administration, regarding the use of hotels or guest houses in residential areas, as quarantine facilities.
The health ministry guidelines read, "There are a large number of facilities such as hotels, service apartments, lodges which are unoccupied due to the impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism. There are also instances where people who don’t have requisite space at home may opt for such facilities." Hospitals can tie up with local hotels/ lodges and take parallel care of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients who do not require ventilator or similar support.
Sandeep Khandelwal, President of Delhi Hotel & Restaurant Owners Association, an association of Guest House owners and operators in Delhi, said that they have also received complaints from RWAs, but if they refuse to comply with the government authorities, for guest houses and hotels to be used as quarantine facilities, then an FIR would be immediately registered against their members. He did affirm though, that, the protocols should be strictly adhered to.
However, many residents living near quarantine facilities have complained that people quarantined in the guest houses are not following the set guidelines and protocols prescribed by the Government.
As per the Government Guidelines, the basic requirements for Quarantine facilities for Covid-19 include a Location preferably in the outskirts of the urban/ city area. Moreover it should be well protected and secured (preferably by security personnel/ army). It should also have ample parking space including that for Ambulances and it should have easy access for delivery of food/medical/other supplies. Most importantly, unless there is a strict adherence to the government's Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) such facilities pose a great health risk to the Residents of that area.
In the end, the battle lines should be drawn between the virus and us and not between ourselves.
Love in The Time of Corona
by Kiranjeet Chaturvedi (The Palms, 93508 48865)
In the midst of the social distancing and feeling of lives stuck in limbo, there was an exciting news in Tower 1, Palms. A couple decided to solemnise their wedding, adapting to the restrains of the situation with the help of technology. The morning wedding ceremony was at the bride’s home, with her parents and a pandit and the groom. The groom’s parents and all other guests participated via zoom. The couple returned to their own marital home later in the day, to find gifts of flowers and plants sent by their building neighbours delivered at their doorstep. An immediate neighbour’s children made lots of colourful and pretty paper decorations to adorn the newlyweds’ home. The unique happening surely brought joy to all of us in times of a lot of societal sadness.
New Team At The Retreat
by Raji Anand (The Retreat)
On Sunday, 24 June, The Retreat society elected a new Board of Managers for year 2020-2021. The new Board of Managers are as follows:
President : Dr Abha Sharma
Secretary: Pankaj Garg
Treasurer : Rahul Thakker
Other members on the Board are Mr S.C. Paruthi & Mr Neeraj Sood and Mr Vikas Chopra.
Community Takes on Contact Tracing
by Kiranjeet Chaturvedi (The Palms, 93508 48865)
As a measure of preparedness and being proactive in the Covid crisis, Minakshi Tewari, of The Palms, signed up for and completed an online contact tracing course from Johns Hopkins University about a month ago. Then came the emergence of Covid cases in Palms. While the government teams followed the case handling protocols, it was clear they were overburdened and slow in action. That is when Ms. Tewari stepped in with her suggestion to use her newly acquired training. With her prompt take-over of contact tracing, isolation of secondary contacts of positive cases could be put in place very quickly. Going further, it was decided to have a team of similarly trained residents to help in the task. In a couple of days itself we had six contact tracers ready with their training, all of them having immediately done the same online course. As the news of this spread over national newspaper, many others across the country and in Gurgaon have also trained themselves to take on this is very important aspect of the work to contain the spread of the corona virus. We are grateful and proud of the prescience shown by Ms. Tewari and all others who followed her suggestion.
Report of The A Block Tree Survey
by Vandana Sarin (A Block)
A tiny enclave protruding out from the rest of the geometrically symmetrical colony, A Block is bound by villages on two sides, and B Block on the other. Senior residents, Mr. Arora and Mr. Ravi Kapoor recently conducted an enumeration of the trees in the block as a precursor to identify the dead trees and undertake the pruning exercise of the trees.
The results of the tree census are as under:
The vacant area between A Block and the World Spa Complex is overgrown with indigenous trees and also Pepal, Neem, and Amaltas. There are also many fruit trees that residents have in their backyards which are not included in this count. Such greenery is a source of calm to the tired eyes and home to birds including peacocks and little animals like squirrels. These trees are our valuable resource and need to be preserved and taken care of. Currently, the tree pruning exercise is underway but a lot more needs to be done.
Among them is the painting of tree trunks to protect them from termites, removing concrete from the base of trunks and also replanting of peepal saplings.
Join the Covid/Climate Victory Garden Movement
by Alka Saran (K-125, 98184 09123)
Need something positive and productive to do during the pandemic? Join this movement. It is a practical and joyful response to a challenging time. Let's return to the soil and grow food in our backyards, vacant plots, balconies and windowsills and take forward the victory garden movement that began during World War1
So, grind the eggshells, banana, mango and veggie peels, mix the used tea leaves and fallen leaves too to make some compost. Throw it all into the soil, prepare a nice bed, or fill up the flower pots, plastic bottles, cans, any and every item that can be upcycled. We are ready to sow some seeds collected from our kitchen- tomatoes, capsicum, chilies, okra, coriander, gourds... and watch them grow. Time to experience the pride and delight in seeing a plant germinate and grow tall and hardy, then flower and fruit.
"Growing food is not just about having fresh, tasty spray-free tomatoes with your dinner. It's about empowering ourselves to produce some of what we consume. It's about withdrawing our votes from the logging, spraying, tilling, and cruelty of the industrial food system. It's about composting and falling in love with soil. It's about learning, experimenting, and observing. It's about daily ritual, a wholesome hobby that doesn't involve a screen.
Gardening is all these things and more. It's the best pastime a person can have."
- Brenda Quinlan
Some photographs shared by members of Let's Plant Gurugram a group by NGO Earth Supporters. A very useful chart for planting seasonal vegetables shared by Diepa Jain, resident of D Block.
We can start by growing just one thing. Just one. Happy planting!🍀🍅🌶️🍊🍆
How Is your Business Unlocking: Part 1
Puja Ohri In Conversation With Deepak Sehgal
Restoration of Sikanderpur Water Body & Forest Will Be A Game changer
by Rahul Chandola (H Block DLF-1, 9811050731)
Sikanderpur Watershed & Restoration of the Forest is spread over 80 acres, from Sikanderpur village to Gurgaon-Faridabad road and is mainly covered with Villayati Keekar. The large pond is created by blockage of a seasonal stream that originated in the hills behind the residential colony. In its current form, the pond is a cesspool of sewage and wastewater it receives from the Sikanderpur village, and neighbouring office complexes.
The objective of the project is to develop the Sikanderpur pond and water body into a wetland and biodiversity hotspot, with clean water and forestation to create a green lung for Gurgaon while providing public space in a natural environment for leisure and community activities.
The restoration of the forest belt was started last year with the planting of 13, 764 saplings. The physical cleaning of the pond and the areas around is in progress. This project is in collaboration with GMDA and will take a couple of years to complete.
I was very fortunate, pleased &ecstatic to see the development of the Sikanderpur watershed slowly turning into reality . on 05th June 2020 I was lucky enough to visit the Sikanderpur watershed with one of the founding members of I am Gurgaon Latika Thukral ……. She proudly showed me the developments undertaken to convert the swamp into the dream project of I am Gurgaon & GMDA which will ensure a walking track, home for various species & will be a source of fresh air& water for many species. I was also fortunate that our area Muncipal councilor R S Rathee was also there along with a resident from H block Mr Arun Jain was also stunned to see the change especially it falls right behind his house.
I can already visualize residents walking in a Paradise converted out of a swamp. ...... The plan is also to ensure the rainwater which just overflows is also diverted into the upcoming Nature’s Paradise.