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April 4, 2020

Life in lockdown

Lahore

 
April 4, 2020

Saadia Salahuddin

LAHORE:To see how people are facing during the Corona lockdown, The News talked to some residents of a slum area where most of the men are daily-wagers and a small number of women employed as domestic help in the neighbourhood.

This is Jeewan Hana, an area next to New Garden Town, UC 208 with 10,000 voters where 60 percent of the people live on rent in the slum that people call village. Lockdown seems to be of shops and businesses while children can be seen roaming in the streets as usual.

The fruit-seller would stand in full view of everyone at the chowk, is now waiting for customers in a corner. The number of people who buy fruits has significantly decreased.

“I bought kino at Rs120 a dozen from the wholesale market. People ask the price and when I tell them Rs150 a dozen they walk away. I am ready to give them at Rs120, the price at which I bought,” he says or else they will perish but there are few buyers.

A busy vegetable shop on other days had few customers. The shopkeeper told me the purchase has significantly decreased. The vegetable seller who himself hails from the village said nearly all the villagers were daily wage earners. “Only those who earn, eat,” remarked a resident.

UC 208 General Councilor Chaudhry Muhammad Ashraf Gujjar told The News that he is one of the 12 coordinators in the union council who have been asked to prepare lists of needy households in their areas. There are six coordinators on both sides of the road in Garden Town. Two days back Chief Coordinator Mudassar Shah from MPA Murad Raas’s office gave a message to the UC coordinators to prepare a list of 60 households each for distribution of ration. Gujjar has submitted his list of 100 though.

The other aid the government has announced is of Rs4,000 under Insaf Imdad Programme. For this, the UC coordinators have been asked to send a list of 200 needy people. “That too I have sent. I have sent 200 CNIC copies to the relevant authorities,” said the UC coordinator. There is a form to be filled and sent online which the councillor did himself for everyone for free. “I have heard someone has photocopied this form and is selling for Rs50 to poor people,” he said.

“Another government initiative is ‘SMS CNIC number at 8171 and your telephone number’ and they will verify whether the person is needy. Under this scheme, the government will give Rs12,000,” Chaudhry Ashraf Gujjar informed. “Verification has never been easy so it will likely take time,” commented a resident.

Gujjar said that MPA Murad had set up a tandoor in Kabootar Pura near Mini Market where the constituency’s party office is. “500 people had food from there for free on the first day.” Today (Saturday) will be the third day.

It was learnt that few people have taken the initiative to provide food to the poor. Among them is Khalid Mehmood of Raiwind and Aun Chaudhry who distributed ration in the constituency of his brother Chaudhry Ameen which include Wapda Town, Green Town, Bagrian and Valencia Town. The people in general are still waiting for the promised help from the government.