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Red zone count in Delhi drops by 200+ after govt redraws boundaries

The Delhi government, in a three-day drive, has brought down the number of containment zones in the city by over 200, bringing relief to as many as 241,888 people from following stringent lockdown rules, revenue minister Kailash Gahlot said on Saturday.

The drive to restructure Delhi’s containment zones was conducted between July 28 and July 30 to free up more localities, permit movement of more people and further boost the economy, the government said.

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The exercise involved redrawing the boundaries of containment zones to make them smaller. It could be a lane, a building or a larger area, depending on the contacts traced to the Covid patients and high-risk groups identified in the zone.

The containment strategy executed by the 11 district administrations was reviewed by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday.

The move comes at a time when the Centre, on July 29, permitted states to de-seal a containment zone 14 days after the recovery of the last Covid-19 patient from the area. Earlier, de-sealing was allowed 28 days after the last Covid recovery case.

Data presented to Kejriwal during Saturday’s review showed that on July 27, Delhi had 715 containment zones — the highest so far – with 348,099 people residing in them, following strict lockdown rules.

By July 31, the number came down to 496 and now, only 106,211 people are living under lockdown.

“This drive was conducted for three days and I personally went on the ground to inspect containment zones with the respective district magistrates (DMs) in various parts of the city. In the review meeting today, the chief minister expressed his satisfaction over the result of the restructuring and the subsequent de-scaling of containment zones. The CM has directed that the situation must be reviewed at regular intervals,” Gahlot said.

Documents, accessed by HT, showed that of all the 11 districts, the southeast district saw the biggest turnaround in terms of the population being affected by it, despite the number of containment zones remaining mostly the same.

“The southeast district’s containment zones reduced by one only (from 31 to 30), but the boundaries of the containment zones were redrawn afresh. We did it in such a way that now only 7,517 people are living in CZs in our district, instead of 73,612 people recorded on July 27,” said a senior official from the district.

In terms of the number of containment zones, the west district saw the maximum reduction from 104 on July 27 to 61 on July 31. This was followed by Shahdara district (from 47 to 7) and south district (from 77 to 50).

“During the intensive review, we found that the containment zone in southwest Delhi’s H & F Block in Raj Nagar part II, Palam Colony, was the biggest in terms of the population under lockdown. It had 43,000 residents living in it. We broke it down into smaller zones and now only 1,600 people are impacted after the restructuring. Similarly, Central Delhi’s A, B and E2 Blocks in Shastri Nagar had 36,423 people under containment. This has now reduced to 1,200 people,” minister Gahlot said.

According to government documents, the biggest containment zone in Delhi in terms of population now is in northwest Delhi’s C Block, Mangolpuri. It was notified on May 22 and has around 3,000 residents under lockdown. This is followed by Central Delhi’s Jawahar Nagar and north Delhi’s Block 1, Sector 17, Rohini containment zones, both of which now have 2,500 people living in each zone.

Till June 20, Delhi had 262 containment zones. On June 21, the home ministry, which has been monitoring and suggesting interventions in Delhi, directed the state to scale up containment activities and start aggressive re-mapping and redrawing of sealed zones.

After this direction, in just a week’s time, by June 27, Delhi’s containment zones increased to 421, after which the numbers gradually kept increasing.

Dr Lalit Kant, former Head, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, Indian Council of Medical Research said, “It is a good idea to keep reviewing containment zones. It helps in more effective contact tracing as well. But it is also important to keep testing people in containment zones since by employing this strategy, it becomes possible to identify and isolate those who may have come in contact with the infected individual.”

Residents of Blocks K in north Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, which opened up after more than three months, said the descaling process enabled them to go to work. “Despite the area’s de-containment, our RWA is still rightfully exercising caution. The movement of people to and from the gated colony is highly regulated. Some gates are shut until the RWA further decides on opening,” said Rajiv Kumar, a resident of the area.

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