New Delhi: In a bid to help the poor and homeless people in coping with the nationwide lockdown being enforced in the country to break the chain of infection caused by the spread of coronavirus, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) which is an independent department under the Delhi government has started a facility of providing lunch and dinner to all in need through its night shelters across the city. While talking to NDTV about the initiative, NH Sharma, Director-Night Shelter, DUSIB said,
Lunch is being served between 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM while dinner is being served between 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM. The people being served include even those who are not staying at the night shelters. The food being served includes three kinds of meals – four chapatis along with lentils and vegetable curry, six pooris along with vegetable curry and lentils and rice. The menu has been planned to keep in consideration the wholesomeness of food. The people are being told that boosting immunity is also important and so they must keep coming and eating until the fear of coronavirus lasts.
According to Mr. Sharma, over 15,000 people are being provided with food at 192 permanent and 56 temporary night shelters across the capital since March 23. This includes over 9,000 people who are staying in the facilities as of Tuesday (March 25). These night shelters, as per Mr. Sharma are being operated and maintained through seven Shelter Management Agencies (SMAs) and Non-Governmental Organisations.
He further asserted that the SMAs and NGOs are also focusing on sanitation, hygiene, and sanitisation at the shelters. Masks are being provided to those who have cough or fever and sanitisers and soaps are being provided to the visitors for handwashing. Thermometers have also been arranged to check if anyone is having a fever. The visitors and people staying at the shelters are also being made aware of the coronavirus outbreak. However, maintaining the advised distance among the visitors is becoming a challenge. Mr, Sharma added,
We are trying to maintain a physical distance of at least 1 metre between the people visiting night shelters but since the Chief Minister made the announcement that anyone can take food from the shelters, the number of people eating at the shelters has been swelling. We are currently working on improving the facilities but we are ensuring that proper distance is maintained between people who are staying in the night shelters.
He further shared that because of the recently imposed lockdown, a number of people who were living on footpath or bus stations or at religious places and rickshaw pullers who were living inside their vehicles are now moving to the nearest shelter. He said,
We are more than happy to welcome and serve them. The SMAs are working on increasing the number of beds and enhancing the facilities. For example, the night shelter near Kashmere Gate had a capacity of about 800 occupants but within the past two days, this shelter has got 1300 more people who need to be accommodated.
NDTV spoke with Guddu, 51 year-old-rickshaw puller in Kalkaji who is from Ara, Bihar and has been living in Delhi with his son since past five years. He said,
Because of coronavirus and the lockdown, I am left with no income source. I used to earn about Rs. 300 per day but now I can’t send anything back home nor can I buy a meal for myself. Lack of money has made life harder. So I am eating from the shelter but I am worried about my family in Bihar.
The central government has enforced a complete nationwide lockdown so that people refrain from coming in contact with persons/ surfaces infected coronavirus which was first reported in Wuhan, China and soon spread to almost all countries across the globe. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the cases of infections are on a rise every day and as on March 25 at 9:00 AM, there have been 562 confirmed cases in the country which includes 41 recoveries and nine fatalities.