Coronavirus Pune: Housemaids, auto drivers, barbers waiting to resume services

Coronavirus Pune: Housemaids, auto drivers, barbers waiting to resume services



Pune: Though the municipal commissioner has allowed non-essential commodity shops and construction activities to reopen on alternate days in the non-containment areas, citizens are eagerly awaiting the resumption of three important services provided by domestic help, auto men and barbers.

Though these services fall under the essential services category, the government has allowed non-essential services such as liquor shops, construction activities, garage to resume operations. The government has completely ignored these three services, which are sources of income for lakhs of families.

Public transport services are not operational as per the government order. On the other hand, airlines, railway and state transport buses are operating to carry distressed migrants to their native places. They are not maintaining the norms of social distance and wearing of masks. Union cabinet minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari had stated that the government would issue guidelines to allow public transport, including airlines, to operate in the country. However, no guidelines have been issued yet.

Now, auto-rickshaw organisations and citizens are demanding resumption of this service as both - citizens and auto-rickshaw drivers will benefit. There are around one lakh auto-rickshaws in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.

When contacted, Rickshaw Panchayat Convener Nitin Pawar said, "In some districts, the government has permitted to restart auto-rickshaw services by framing rules. Auto men have no source of income for the past more than two months. Drivers and owners are facing a very difficult time. Public transport bodies are giving salaries to their employees even though their services are not operational. But this is not the case with other public transport services such as auto-rickshaws. One the one hand, the government is not allowing auto men to restart services in the city; on the other hand, it hasn't announced any relief package for them. How will they serve?"

"The district collector is the head of the regional transport authority. He should make a decision. The authority sets norms and initiates action against auto-rickshaw services. In this difficult situation, the district collector must permit resumption of these services or give them financial support. It is the right of auto drivers to demand it," he added.

Vishal Bhosale, an auto-rickshaw driver, said, "My family and I solely depend on the auto-rickshaw service. I have not earned for the past two months. I have not paid instalments of my vehicles for the last two months. How long will I borrow money from relatives to feed my family? The government should give us financial support or allow to restart services."

Rani Shah, a resident of Viman Nagar, said, "The government should start the auto-rickshaw services. We don't have any other option to visit the hospital or other necessary work."

Pune Zilla Ghar Kamgar Sanghatana head and social activists Kiran Moghe said, "There are over one lakh housemaids in the city. Like other essential services, the government should permit them to provide services in the city. Otherwise, they should be given Rs 5,000 compensation. They are ready to work, but societies are not allowing them entry. It is not their fault. We are framing norms on how to provide services during COVID-19 epidemic and what precautions to be taken. It is a misconception that housemaids would spread COVID-19. We have submitted a petition to the district collector and put forth our demands."

Anita Shinde, a housemaid from Wadgaon Sheri, said, "I am living in a non-containment area. The government should allow me to work. We are facing a financial crunch. I have three children. I am the only earning member of my family. I work in five households. I got only half the salary from two households. We are ready to follow the norms. I appeal to the government to permit us to work to feed our families."

Kalpana Thakur, a resident of Kharadi, said, "The government should issue guidelines regarding housemaids. We need their services. They are also ready to join work. But societies are objecting. The issue should be sorted out as early as possible. Most of the families are facing problems, women, especially from families with more than three members or old and sick members, are suffering a lot. Now, we have to learn to live with Covid-19. We cannot stop it immediately. We have to find a way out."

Pune City Salons Organisation member and owner of Style Salon Nandu Jagtap said, "How long will the government enforce the lockdown? It is time has come to restart our life by taking extra precaution. We cannot stop and stay at home without work money. We are facing a very difficult time. The government should have to sort out the issue and allow us to reopen saloon. "

A resident of Wadgonsheri, Sudhakar Patil, said, "The salon services should have to start. From the last two months, my son and I could not cut hair as service has been stopped. It is an essential service for us though the government is not considering. If PMC is allowing laundry and other services, why can't saloon?"

Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said, "The government has not given an order or guidelines to start these services. If government issues guidelines, we can permit to restart maid service. We are hoping on 17 May. For saloon and spa, the government strictly restricted due to physical distance. Government is saying; there are changes of COVID-19 inspection spread as it is enabled to follow social distance in this service, and there is contact time is more than half an hour. "

"There are no orders to restart public transport service. So, we cannot restart right now," he clarified.

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