- Mr Patloo was the first person in Srinagar to test positive for COVID-19
- Mr Patloo has helped over 15 people reach hospital via his boat
- Mr Patloo also provides masks, oxygen cylinders and sanitisers for free
New Delhi: A resident of Dal Lake region in Kashmir’s Srinagar, Tariq Ahmad Patloo was the first person in Srinagar to contract COVID-19, back in August 2020. Unfortunately, he was unable to get the medical attention he needed due to the initial stigma attached with the infectious disease. Mr Patloo’s neighbours, friends and even family refused to take him to the hospital in the city, due to the fear of catching the infection.
The hospital in the area is only accessible by boat and Mr Patloo, despite being a boat owner himself, could not reach their due to his health condition.
The 50-year-old eventually recovered from COVID-19 but instead of holding a grudge, he decided to do something for his community to cope with the pandemic as well as the stigma.
I was the first person in the Dal lake region who got COVID. I faced a social boycott from people around me. Even my own family and friends did not come to support me. That is when I thought I will have to do something for this community.
Mr Patloo decided to convert his Shikara or boat into a ‘floating ambulance’ to help COVID-19 patients in the community reach hospitals on time.
I spoke to Satya Rekha Trust, based in New Delhi. They told me to go ahead and that I had their support. That is when I started on my plan to modify this Shikara. I have designed it, and I am using it to provide people a service. I have transported a few dead bodies also, along with the COVID patients.
Mr Patloo is also using the shikara ambulance to spread the message about COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and urging people to get vaccinated.
His boat is equipped with a loudspeaker, which Mr Patloo uses to make announcements about taking basic precautions like wearing masks and practicing social distance.
Furthermore, amid the second wave of COVID-19, he is also providing masks, oxygen cylinders and sanitisers free of COST, to the people of his community.
So far, Mr Patloo has helped over 15 people in the Dal Lake region reach hospitals via his unique floating ambulance.
During the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address on June 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated his efforts for running a floating ambulance service in Srinagar’s Dal Lake amid COVID-19. He said,
There are many people in our country who have come forward and worked to help the doctors. I came to know about one such attempt from Srinagar. Here a Boat Ambulance Service was started at Dal Lake. This service was started by Tariq Ahmad Patloo of Srinagar, who is a Houseboat Owner. He himself has also fought the battle with COVID-19 and this inspired him to start the Ambulance Service. A campaign is also underway to make people aware of this ambulance, and continuous announcements from the ambulance are being made by him. The effort is that people should wear a mask and undertake other necessary precautions too.
Expressing happiness, Mr Patloo said his community was ignored for a long time and hoped that this praise will help them. “I am glad of his (PM Modi) appreciation. I will be happier if this would cause benefit to my community which has been ignored by everyone for a long. I do not work for appreciation. If the PM wants to help us, then he should help our community,” he said to ANI. Mr Patloor further added,
I feel proud of my work. This industry is suffering and I hope PM Modi’s praise will help my community.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.