COVID-19: Civil Defence Wing of Police Joins NGOs to Fight Corona Virus Pandemic
Amidst the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic and nationwide lockdown, the hardest hit groups have been migrant workers, homeless, the poor and the disadvantaged. In Mumbai, a few non-government organisations (NGOs) including Moneylife Foundation have been working with the Civil Defence Organisation (CDO) to organise shelter and distribution of food, water, essentials and personal protective equipment (PPE) to those that need it the most.
It started with the efforts of Sanjay Pandey, a proactive Director General of Civil Defence, whose team of civil defence official worked round-the-clock to help NGOs reach cooked food and provisions across Mumbai and the distance suburbs in a matter of hours.
Among those who were supported by the effort were Rajya Sabha MP (Shiv Sena) Priyanka Chaturvedi , Roshni Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) led by Anil Hebbar and Bilal Khan, Abraham Mathai and Harmony Foundation, Sailesh Mishra (of Silver Innings and Snehanjali home for dementia patients) and other activists including Prof Ritu Dewan, trade union leaders Milind Ranade and Dr Vivek Monteiro, lawyer Trisha Shetty and others. Well know activist Gurupreet Anand, who has fought against multi-level marketing (MLM) scams lie QNet is helping in providing food at the camp since Sunday.
The key to the success of this multipronged operation is a WhatsApp group called Relief Mumbai created by Mr Pandey, which is used to post requests and ensure fulfillment at record speed.
Once a request for help is posted, one of the NGOs, like GBGBA or YUVA or Mr Gulzar Khan indicate their ability to deliver help, which is immediately assigned to the civil defence team to provide logistics support – all combining to an astonishingly efficient system.
Mr Pandey soon realised that Civil Defence has land specifically earmarked for settlement at Versova and decided to rapidly organise a relief shelter to house hundreds of migrant workers who were stopped from leaving Mumbai during the lockdown.
The Civil Defence team under the guidance of Mr Pandey proceeded to build a shelter across the 30,000 sq. ft. ground.
Support has poured in from many organisations to help set it up including Reliance Foundation, which provided all the infrastructure for the camp including water, bedding, chemical toilets and a host of other supplies.
The tents were generously donated by Aminbhai, someone else chipped in with giant water storage tanks. Harmony Foundation has also been a part of the effort.
This relief camp was set up in just three days, with tents and carpets to host migrant workers and laborers, as well as destitute who are without basic necessities like food and shelter.
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), provided big support with fumigation, providing water tankers, deploying a team of doctors to conduct health checks before entry of migrants.
The team is stationed at the camp along with sanitation workers provided for its upkeep.
The camp is running primarily through private volunteer contributions. At the moment the camp has the capacity to house 500 people and is already occupied by 400 persons, while maintaining the six feet apart social distancing norm.
Officers of the Maharashtra government disaster relief team have also been apart of the support group and chipped in with help when required. But ultimately, it is the excellent coordination and effort of Sadanand Wayse-Patil, Superintendent of Police (SP), who has been the nodal officer for all coordination, along his team of many committed officers, who pulled off the installation of the camp and having in functional in record time.
Several individuals and organisations have stepped forward to help. ISKCON provided thousands of food packets that were distributed across Mumbai by the civil defense team.
Ryan International School has provided buses for transportation of stranded migrant workers to the relief camp.
As many as, 800 Home Guard and Civil Defence volunteers have been deployed across the city to make the relief camp a success.
Some of these volunteers have been guiding stranded migrant workers and homeless individuals to the relief camp. While others have been moving through the city to deliver food, water and PPEs to those in need.
Moneylife Foundation has been a part of this group and undertook to distribute over 2,200 N95 masks to doctors at major hospital over Mumbai with the logistics support of the Civil Defence team to deliver them.
The need for masks and PPEs is self evident and the lack of safety equipment is quite distressing.
The shortage of PPEs is enormous and much more needs to be done to fight the pandemic. There is also a need for sanitisers, surgical masks, gloves, shoe covers and even full-body PPE suits. With the assistance of Civil Defence volunteers, Moneylife Foundation has been able to distribute the much needed N95 masks to Sion Hospital, KEM, JJ Hospital, Nair Hospital, DY Patil Hospital -Nerul, Global Hospital, Holy Spirit Hospital and many more.
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