A departmental meeting was organised on Tuesday by the Minister of Cooperation, Balasaheb Patil because of the large number of complaints launched by the residents of various housing societies.
According to the senior officials, the complaints were mostly received from healthcare staff who were refused entry to their own houses.
Numerous complaints were also registered by residents who were not there during the entire lockdown, but now they are not allowed to enter their housing complexes. Managing committees also raised complaints about not permitting the flats for rent and even denying the entry of drivers.
An official from the department claimed that the cooperative department had never banned the entry of drivers and maids. TOI quoted the official as saying, “COVID-19 guidelines have been framed by the Centre and the state government. The lockdown was announced on March 24, and on March 26, on the collector’s direction, we issued a circular to all housing societies, which said outsiders are not allowed. It never specifically said maids and drivers are not allowed.”
The official also added that the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans for actions related to COVID-19 hotspots. It is the responsibility of them to issue directives and guidelines concerning the allowance of drivers and maids in housing complexes. The department issued the last notice on May 31 where it allowed the entry of plumbers and electricians to enter houses and resume their operations. The permission to maids and drivers has not been given yet.
The District Cooperative Housing Federation has issued some latest guidelines for the housing societies. However, the government has not provided any clear cut advice on this issue. The measures involve the submission of medical certificates of COVID-19 for the live-in maids in the housing along with those residents who have a travel history. The advisory also said that daily domestic help should be living within the housing complex. No one from outside should be allowed, residents are not allowed to use spa or gyms and will be allowed to jog in the complex compound for a limited time.
Federation Secretary, Dattatray Vader stated that they have advocated a standard operating procedure (SOP) draft proposing medical certificates for house help and allowing them to reside within the complex by providing them with adequate facilities.
A declaration from the domestic help should be obtained by the societies daily confirming that their area was not a COVID-19 hotspot, said Ramesh Prabhu, president of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MahaSeWa).
However, All India Cooperative Housing Societies Association 9AICHSWA) members Vijay Patel and Jeby Patel said that domestic help should only be allowed if there is a requirement since there are still no clear directives on this issue.
A notification issued by the deputy registrar of housing societies, P Ward (Goregaon, Dindoshi and Malad), on Monday said, the housing societies cannot make rules on their own in contrary to the government advisories.
It also added that in non-containment zones, the societies should permit the domestic workers to operate. According to a senior official, it is not possible to issue directives for one particular area.