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There is an unusually long line of auto-rickshaws and taxis along Lodhi Road in central Delhi. The almost 1km long line leads to Sunehri Pullah Depot, a Delhi Transport Corp. (DTC) bus terminus.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the drivers look to two men (as of now) to disinfect their vehicles. One of them, Mithilesh, 38, is halfway through his two-hour window of public service.

“I don’t know what the disease is or how serious it is. I have been given instructions to clean every vehicle that comes here," said Mithilesh, who has been working as a municipal cleanliness worker for two months.

He stays near the depot and the first major challenge on the job for him has been the coronavirus.

“We also clean the buses that are parked in the depot. They have given us special gear to use, because they said that the disease spreads very easily. I have not studied very much so I am doing what I have been told."

On Monday, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal extended the facility of free disinfection to what are classed as “public service vehicles" in two shifts from 10am-12noon and 4.30-6.30pm.

On Thursday, the government announced that the service will be available from 10am-6pm. That translates into longer hours for Mithilesh, but he says that it is part of his job.

Since starting the facility, Mithilesh says he has disinfected over a thousand public service vehicles. He has one more person working alongside him in the depot. Across all the centres, the Delhi government has issued over 20,000 “certificates of disinfection" in two days.

A job during an economic slowdown is what keeps Mithilesh going. “I need to do this for the money. I have seven daughters to take care of back home. I do not understand the risks that come with the disease, but we have to do it as part of our job."

Last week, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi started disinfecting its DTC and cluster buses, along with the metro coaches, on a daily basis to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The government has made it mandatory for all interstate buses entering Delhi to carry a certificate of disinfection from their home states.

Disinfection of public vehicles is something that drivers want. With fewer customers taking public vehicles, they feel that disinfection gives them a sense of safety.

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