Open House

Covid-19: Not enough, government should take a hard line against violators

Despite challans & roadside testing, locals aren’t satisfied with authorities’ efforts of keeping offenders on a firm leash

Covid-19: Not enough, government should take a hard line against violators

no fear Flouting social distancing norms, people can be seen without masks at the Amritsar railway station and bus stand. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Open House: Do you think admn is taking enough steps towards maintaining social distancing at public places?

Time to Intensify the vaccination drive

The government apparently seems on the right track, after thousands of new cases in the country and the rising death toll. The extension of micro-containment zones to district-level containment zones will certainly make a dent in these figures. But the ruling BJP is also following the policy of ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’ ie colluding with the Covid and priding in the van. Why can’t they do away with mega rallies and mega road shows? They must. But sadly, on the other hand ‘we, the people of India’ who gave ourselves in 1949, the most sacred document called our Constitution, are, truly speaking, the most irresponsible and least law abiding people of the world and I don’t need any document to prove that. There is hardly any law or regulation we don’t flout and take pride in doing so. Politicians lead us here as well. We cross from under the barrier pole at railway level crossings, drive fast in fifth gear, and that too under the influence of liquor, but in case of an accident claim compensation. Every fact about the coronavirus, the second wave, its fast infecting rate, every risk, every precaution to be observed have been broadcast, telecast millions of times. Every child knows it and takes the necessary precaution, but not the wiseacres. Hence, the government is not totally to blame. The MCA administration is doing bits where it can to maintain social distance. Our own absence of sensitivity and responsibility has to be awakened. If there are some of us not wearing a mask or are getting crowded, it is no occasion to join them. In fact, they should be requested to wear one and if required supplied with one, if not two. They won’t get wasted. There are philanthropists among us who have donated thousands of masks to the police. We can keep one with us in our pocket for one who cannot afford it. Fines? No. Recovering even Rs100 from a daily wager would be a sin. A polite request and drawing his/her promise to wear one would be enough. He/she can be a source of spreading the message. Penalising the well-to-do would of course be in the fitness of things. Keeping physical distance should be accepted as the new normal. And now, getting in the queue to get vaccinated is our ‘religious’ duty crossing all faiths – all this not to underrate the urgency of washing hands. It is even more important than physical distance. The state government has perhaps made a mistake in suspending the well-oiled vaccination drive during the two holidays last week. Its fall out will not be missed now.


Govt doesn’t have a concrete plan

Social distancing is must but the administration is taking half-hearted steps towards maintaining it at public places. For example night curfew is a superficial exercise. People are freely moving and mingling in quest of their daily chores. In offices, banks, bazaars, streets, bus stands, parks, etc, no distancing, no masks are being adhered to. People are under the impression that deaths are being manipulated to keep them under the constant fear and threat of coronavirus. They suspect that every death is being attributed to the virus whereas people earlier and now too, have been dying of various diseases. If Covid is so prevalent why are the politicians holding rallies and conducting campaigns? Social distancing poses a formidable challenge. How can daily-wagers think about their next source of bread or about keeping a distance from other people? The administration does not seem to have a concrete plan on how to ensure social distancing. The strategy should be to find the infected people and to vaccinate them to stop the spread. The vaccination drive is in full swing, one wonders how the death rate is increasing. The moot question that arises is: doesn’t the vaccine cure the infected ones? ICMR’s Raman R Gangakhedkar said there could be an explosion in the number of cases if states did not take strict steps to ensure distancing. The steps suggested were closure of schools, colleges, gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres. But that proposition did not sound pragmatic because that smacked nothing short of the lockdown. Trains and buses are running with full capacity not giving a hoot to social distancing. Similar scenarios prevail at all religious places where Covid-appropriate behaviour is flouted with impunity. Administrative actions like imposition of fine against the violators have failed to yield the desired results. Harvesting season has set in. How to ensure social distancing there has become a big headache. The only alternative that remains with the people is that they should stay at home as much as possible, should go out only for crucial needs such as groceries and medicines and should avoid non-essential travel. This seems to be a tall order. Can the administration ensure its implementation? However, discrete measures are required to reduce interactions among people and to keep physical distance on-site. A no-visitor policy ought to be implemented and awareness around six-foot rule should be created. Flexible working hours, rotational and staggered shifts can help ensure distancing.

Tarsem S Bumrah


Is resentment of parents on exam postponement justified when they themselves clamoured for closure of schools after mass students tested positive just a few weeks ago?

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Govt must Ban all kinds of gatherings

Though there was remarkable decline in the Covid casualties by the end of 2020, but the situation began to take a turn for the worse again this February. Repeated warnings by the epidemiologists that India is likely to face second wave surge, but pandemic-weary people of India, including those of Punjab and Amritsar seem to have shownlack of serious response. As a result, the infections and deaths have started spiking and even surpassing previous day’s numbers. Just a few days ago, a meeting between the central and state-level health officials found a slackness in observing Covid-appropriate behaviour during this resurge. There still is reluctance to use face-masks and a stark indifference towards social distancing, even amongst the acquaintances of the Covid-affected, and delays in taking the critically ill to hospital. These speak of a breakdown in the communication initiatives that had played a critical role in checking the virus pandemic last year. Even much more disturbing is the reported laxity amongst the officials in tracing contacts and monitoring micro-containment zones. Despite continued spike in casualties the administration of not only Amritsar but of the entire state has taken no strict steps to ban the rallies, protests, religious functions and other gatherings. This may be due to the utter reluctance shown by all the political parties in view of the 2022 Assembly elections, because no one is ready to annoy their vote banks.The last year’s bad experience should have stood us in good stead if religious and other festivities like Holi, etc had been banned totally and restrictions had also been followed and imposed strictly.


Policemen, the mute spectators

The administration is taking least steps towards maintaining social distancing at public places. Especially in our city, there is so much laxity that people are roaming free on roads, markets without masks and maintaining distance and the police are totally mute spectators taking no action. Moreover, the people going to the Golden Temple are all without masks, no social distancing is there and the local administration is just sleeping over the matter. Outside and within the Golden Temple area there is no maintenance of social distancing but nobody is worried, neither the local administration nor the SGPC. Due to this attitude, the virus is spreading and deaths are also increasing day by day. The need of hour is strictness for maintenance of social distancing at public places and irrespective of any discrimination regarding this.


Many more precautions needed

Covid-19 has already completed and glutted a year and its end is beyond anybody’s sight, so far. Despite invention of vaccines, the resurge has spread at breakneck speed and has taken the government and the society by surprise. The malady’s spread is exponential and the governments have not been able to assess the ground reality of the large number of people in its grip. Though proper wearing of masks and distancing is essential, yet there are so many other precautions which are a must for overcoming the effects of the pandemic. Putting the fear of punishment at the hands of police and health authorities for not putting the masks and keeping apart from the people by maintaining more than two meters distance, has only a very limited role to play. Time has come when every citizen, welfare associations, mohalla committees, social organisations, and philanthropists need to jump into the war against this life-killing disease. The local authorities must come clean on carrying out the anti-malarial and anti-dengue sprays as the summer has set in. Hundreds of pushcarts on the sides of the roads and on footpaths selling uncovered eatables are the bane of the citizens and are the major spreaders of the disease. The government must mercilessly remove them in the interest of the mankind. This will facilitate the ‘already busy’ Covid warriors in Health Department as they would be spared the annual task of destroying the raw and contaminated eatables. All people must avoid organising social functions and political rallies must be banned, though it may not be possible, looking at the not-too-far state Assembly poll. So far, the health authorities have done extremely well in performing its onerous duty in this colossal crisis. Some individual doctors have proved the dictum, ‘doctors are next to God or they are angels’ right, in this crisis. One lady pulmonologist was herself infected. She was the main doctor to look after the patients in the most prestigious hospital of the city and her private clinic. She was so concerned that after confinement for some days, she started going to the hospital to treat the patients as in her absence no one else could do that. Such a dedicated and self-sacrificing doctor is young Dr Rominder Kaur, who has treated me.

Hardish sandhu

Every Citizen must cooperate with govt

In my opinion the government may be taking sincere steps to ensure social distancing at public places, but such efforts prove to be useful only with the cooperation of the fellow citizens. The administration has imposed night curfew, limited the presence of people at public and private events, announced fine if a person is found without a mask, etc but still I witness many people violating the given guidelines. The major reason for such is corruption on a massive scale in our country. A person can easily escape from these guidelines by feeding the concerned official with enough amounts. There are boundaries and steps for people to stand on, in order to keep a distance from each other but the people of our country do not realise the seriousness of this grave situation and ignore as if there is no such thing as the Covid-19 and the government has just made it up for their own advantages. But through this platform I would like to inform and warn all the people of this nation to support the administration in this difficult period of time so that we can go back to normal and prosper as before.


Politicians themselves violating norms

There is an alarming increase in infections in the district resulting in more deaths due to the same. But before putting blame on the public, central and all state governments should be held responsible for it. Neither the central nor the state governments were serious in implementation of preventive measures to stop the spread of deadly virus since the declaration of the lockdown last year. Even prior to it, when it was spreading in the other parts of the world, instead of taking preventive measures we were busy in arranging welcome rally for the US President Donald Trump in Ahmedabad. Anyway, when the Centre announced the first lockdown there were only 536 infected cases in the whole country. But the government gave just four-hour notice for it, thus compelling the migrant workers to leave for their native places on foot thus ignoring the norms meant for prevention of virus. Instead of four hours they should have given dour days notice before implementing the first lockdown. Recently, the new CM of Uttrakhand just after taking the oath withdrew all norms for prevention of coronavirus at Mahakumbh in Haridwar. Similarly, leaders of all political parties, including PM and state CMs are arranging big rallies and road shows for election campaigns in poll- bound four states and one UT, not caring for norms. It is as if all laws, rules and regulations are meant for general public only, our political leadership is above it. In such circumstances it is difficult to stop the virus.

Harsh N Johar

Future seems dark and dreary

With surge in cases, ‘social distancing’ protocol to keep in check the spread from potential hotspots has gone for a toss at city’s busiest public places. Both administration and residents are equally responsible for non-adherence to norms. Administration has miserably failed to impose the same at religious places. Gurdwaras, mandirs are being visited by hundreds of people throwing to wind the restrictions on gathering. No spot challan, warning notices have been served by administration to the management of religious places. Situation is no better at the court complex, DC office, offices of banks, insurance companies, etc but worse in city’s wholesale markets, ISBT, malls, marriage palaces showing thumb to administration extant order/guidelines on protocols. Administration can’t be a mere mute spectator to the flouting of norms by the stubborn violators. Police and civil administration should work in tandem to book the offenders to save the lives of law-abiding citizens.

Anil Vinayak

Authorities can’t do everything alone

No, the administration is not taking adequate steps to enforce distancing. People at many public places in the city are not wearing masks or maintaining a distance. The authorities can employ some people who can work at the ground level to enforce rules. These people can be disguised as common people among the public and issue on the spot challans to the offenders. But people need to understand that the authorities can’t do everything by themselves and they should help and support the administration by following the rules so that Covid-19 can be defeated.


Government cares for all of us

India has been surrounded by Covid for almost a year now. There is a lot of multiplication of death rates in the district, more than 6,813. Still many people do not abide by the preventives administered by the government. People without masks are already on the radar of the Health and Police Department. In the communal sites, like malls and parks, people are not permitted to set foot in the respective sites without masks but in the religious places like gurdwaras and temples, people are allowed to enter the premises without it. I must say that the government is much aware about the well-being and safety of the citizens. We can see two-three policemen at every nook and corner of the district. They are performing their obligation with devotion. They are fining the ones who are not following the Covid norms. Also, the ban of religious gatherings without masks should be scrutinised. The citizens should cooperate with government during these scathing times. Moreover, the decision to shut all the malls and gatherings on Holi was a great decision.


Some takeaways to tackle resurge

  • Instead of issuing challans for not wearing masks, police parties should be accompanied by a mask vendor so that a violator of the rules buys a mask on the spot. Otherwise after paying the fine, violator continues his/her journey without it, thus endangering his and others' life.
  • No road shows or rallies should be allowed during election campaigns. Instead all political parties should be given time at Doordarshan or they may avail the services of electronic or print or digital media to put their point of view across the people.
  • All private health centres in the district permitted for vaccination for coronavirus disease are working for limited number of days per week. Whereas they should render this service for all the seven days so that all are vaccinated in a shortest possible time frame.
  • The Centre and State should solve all the genuine problems of the people so as to avoid an agitational approach of a segment of the society. Farmers' agitation is pending since long. Local safari karamcharis are on the agitation path, their problem should be solved at the earliest so as to avoid gathering of protesters.
  • State government should take some effective steps to control the spread of this deadly virus instead of taking fake measures like night curfew or one hour break on every Saturday to pay respects to departed souls.
  • The DC, ADC, SDMs, Police and Municipal Commissioners should lead the raiding parties for implementing norms for outdoor gatherings.
  • In places like post offices and banks, norms for physical distancing are not observed properly, so local administration should pay attention to it.
  • All local municipal councillors, MLAs and MPs should start door-to-door campaign to ask people to observe all norms to prevent the spread, as they do at the time of their canvassing during election. — Naresh Johar

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