Pune: This Housing Society Shows How to Live Joyfully During Coronavirus Lockdown

Palash housing society in Wakad Pune
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Pune, May 6, 2020: The owners and residents of Palash Co-operative Housing Society, Wakad under the leadership of their Chairman Kiran Vadgama, have always lived and worked together like an extended family taking care of each other.

This ensures that they are in the forefront for implementing projects and schemes like composting project, solar power project, organic gardening, rain water harvesting, wind power etc because of which Palash has won the first prize in the ‘Santulit Paryavaran Society’ for two years running.

True to character, Palash Management and residents have capitalised on the challenges thrown at them by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The way they have dealt with the challenges of Covid-19 has surely made Palash shining beacon showing others how they can work together for everyone’s benefit and comfort.

Palash soceity’s idea of family is not restricted to the residents and owners of Palash, but extends to everyone who work there. Palash began the Covid-19 protection campaign by providing all the security staff good quality masks on the 11th of March 2020 – way before being asked to by any authority. This was in addition to the house keeping staff who have always been provided masks given their hazardous duties. Other sanitation and disinfectant facilities like soap and water for hourly hand-washing was also provided at the same time at the gates.

By the 17th of March, on the request of the Chairman and the Managing Committee, most residents had given their help full pay leave to their help to avoid exposure and infections. It is important to note that this was done even before the Maharashtra Government lockdown measures to mitigate Covid-19. Even though, it was a problem for the residents to live without help, they rose to the challenge.

On the day of the Janata curfew, all staff was provided lunch and tea as nothing else was available. Since the national lockdown began, the staff was unable to get tea. This was solved by Palash residents donating an induction cooker, utensils, cutlery, sugar and tea with which they now make their tea. The additional problems the staff still faced because of the forced unemployment of their family members were partially alleviated by Amit Jain, a Palash resident who gave 5 kgs of ration to each staff member, whereas Subhedar gave one kilo rice to each member.

This earned Palash loyalty of their staff, who have made it a point to continue their work at Palash instead of preferring to leave for their native villages. As a result, Palash faces no problem in getting their housekeeping done or with their security. Even the daily waste segregation and composting of about 200 kilos of wet waste continues without a hitch.

Palash Chairman Kiran Vadgama, and the Management Committee members have been working tirelessly throughout the lockout period to ensure all rules and regulations of the lockdown and the various directives of the Police and the Municipal authorities are strictly followed. All gates of Palash are locked and other than medical emergencies, only those who work for essential services are allowed to go out with proper Police pass. That does not mean the residents face any hardships in finding stuff for their day to day needs as Kiran Vadgama, Palash Chariman has organized regular supplies of daily essentials from the beginning of the lockout, which ensured that Palash residents did not need to venture out of society during the lockdown.

One of the major problems that citizens are facing in this lockdown period is accessibility to cash. However, Palash residents face no such problem as the Chairman Vadgama arranged for the HDFC mobile ATM van to come to Palash. Most Palash residents took this opportunity, and therefore, they now do not have anxiety over cash.

Vadgama also organised for a vegetable and fruit vendor to visit Palash twice a week. As he also stocks bread, butter, soft drinks, savoury snacks etc, residents get almost everything that they are used to. Every time the van visits, the vendor lays out his wares before three or four residents are allowed to approach the stall at a time. The rest form a long que and wait cheerfully and patiently.

To help them in their interminable wait, and to ensure their physical comfort and the physical distancing required for safety, Management Committee members like Swati Korde, Sambhu Ghasita, Dr Sugandha Johar, and others like Mohit Jindal set out long lines of chairs before the van arrives and direct the residents along them.

Besides vegetables and fruits, Palashians also get other necessities at their doorstep. Mohit Jindal, and Vitthal Dure-Patil, Palash residents, stepped in to help the Chairman to co-ordinate with the Co-operatives Department of Maharashtra for their new initiative to get pre-ordered and pre-packed groceries delivered to Palash. Similarly, when Vinay Alate learned of a new initiative of D-Mart, he took up the mantle, and helped the Chairman organise a D-Mart stall in Palash. During the visit of the D-Mart van, all the 295 households could stock up of all their daily essentials besides groceries like soaps, detergents, female sanitary products, brooms etc.

In Palash, residents do not believe that it is not only the responsibility of the Palash Management to cater to the resident’s requirements. Anyone who has contacts or access to suppliers take the initiative and co-ordinate and organize their supply. For example, Vitthal Dure-Patil and Mohit Jindal ensured that Palash residents did not miss out on Mangoes by organizing supply of good Alphonso Mangoes from their sources. Similarly, Heena Gupta co-ordinated and organized supply of grapes from Nasik. Palash resident Prajit Vangikar has ensured that Palash residents do not go without bakery goods by convincing the management of Poona Bakery to visit Palash and supply pre-packed pre-ordered goods which he co-ordinated But this not all. Palash Management and residents do not believe in living only for themselves.

Mini Sasane cooks and supplies meals to Palash senior citizens who are unable to cook and look after themselves. Not only that, Mini Sasane and Mohit Jindal raised money for 150 kgs of groceries which they gave to the Wakad Police Station for distribution to the needy. Another batch of groceries donated by Palashians Ravi Johar and Kiran Vadgama is due next week.

Kiran Vadgama, the Chairman of Palash, also collaborated with Yuvraj Huge of Nandan Inspera in his website listing vendors ready for doorstep supplies of goods for all Wakad and PCMC housing societies. The website has proved to be a savior for many. Though the website started as a listing of suppliers, it soon grew beyond that to offer an outlet to young and old in these cooped up times. A painting and sketching competition for all age groups was soon added, giving an outlet to pent-up energies and frustrations. Rahul Karangale of Silver Orchid Society also volunteered for the team, and introduced another avenue – a story telling competition for kids called- Dadi Maa Ki Kahaniyan.

Through all this Palashians have once again proven the adage – when times get tough, the tough get going. They haven’t let these difficult times dampen their spirit. Rather, they have risen above them to find ways of not just helping themselves, but also helping others. Even in these times when people cannot leave their homes they have managed to enthuse other housing societies by bringing them together on a social platform that will give joy to everyone.