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When G. Naveen, a delivery worker for BigBasket, reached his workplace in Nacharam, an industrial area in suburban Hyderabad, on Wednesday at the usual time—7am—he faced a choice: like many other delivery boys who didn’t turn up fearing for their safety, he could have headed back home.

“But I felt I should work, and even though it is a risk, this is a service which is important. I wanted to help out in this situation, so I decided to continue working," said Naveen, 23.

He has been working with Big Basket for a year now. In the lockdown, he has tuned himself to work in a single shift every day, from about 7am to 3.30pm.

“Before the lockdown, I used to work in two shifts. One was from 5.30 to 10.30am, and the other from 4.30 to 10.30pm. There was more traffic, so it used to take longer to deliver groceries then," he said.

While the situation was initially a little chaotic just after the lockdown was imposed by chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), with the police stopping delivery workers, Naveen’s daily routine has now become far easier thanks to the passes issued for delivery of essentials.

What used to be a fairly simple job of just reaching a customer’s home and delivering groceries at the doorstep has now become quite impersonal, he said. “Earlier, people (customers) would talk to us, and we would even have a conversation, but now we just leave the bags (groceries) outside their doors, or even with the security guards at the gate. Nobody wants to talk to us, because everyone is scared of what is happening."

Given the lockdown and the mandatory physical distancing norms, the risk of getting infected with the virus is higher when you constantly meet people and so Naveen’s family too advised him to not report to work.

“Nobody in my family is going out to work right now. It is just me. But I wanted to do my job in these tough times," said Naveen, a resident of Mallapur in Hyderabad who earns around 17,500 per month.

While the Telangana government has announced a special incentive of 7,500 for sanitation workers in Hyderabad and 5,000 for all sanitation workers in the state, many like Naveen, who have to work as usual, have no such bonus.

Naveen has no issues with that but some of his colleagues (who did not want to be identified) said they decided to work given that most businesses have taken a hit and securing a job in the gig economy may be difficult once everything opens up.

With summer approaching, Naveen and his colleagues will only have to toil harder. The saving grace is that there will be less traffic. Moreover, while the Centre had imposed a lockdown from 25 March, Telangana had been shut (except for essential services) from 23 March.

“We are able to work now, but we don’t know what the situation will be like," said Naveen, who makes around 30 deliveries daily.

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