People violate curfew in Punjab, step out to purchase essential items

People violate curfew in Punjab, step out to purchase essential items

Tribune News Service
Punjab, March 28

Reports of curfew violations came from several parts of the state as people side stepped police vigils to buy daily essentials on Saturday, posing a challenge to the authorities trying to enforce social distancing.

Reports of swelling crowds at grocery stores and dairies came from cities like Amritsar and Jalandhar.

In Amritsar, residents crowded grocery stores and diaries, which were open from 6 am to 9 am in most areas, although there has been no official relaxation of the ongoing curfew.

Flour mills and medical stores remained open after district administration allowed them to operate. The Deputy Commissioner allowed shopkeepers and traders selling daily essentials, fruits and vegetables to remain open. The administration has also allowed doorstep delivery of daily essentials.

In Bathinda, people defied curfew orders and crowded provision stores that were selling items through the backdoor of their shops.

District administration has allowed doorstep delivery of daily essentials.

Chemist shops that have the administration’s permission operated between 5 am to 7 am, although many said that their stock of medicines had depleted because of bulk purchase by customers.

Meanwhile, some leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal have complained that they have been denied curfew passes. Former SAD councillor Gursewak Singh Mann said in his post on Facebook that the administration should give him a pass to allow him to help the poor in his area.

“If anybody remains hungry in his ward, then they can register a case against him,” he said in his post. 

In Patiala, grocery shops a heavy rush of phone-in orders after the administration allowed doorstep delivery of essentials.

Punjab reported no new cases of coronavirus until Saturday evening, its media bulletin showed.

Punjab’s positive cases current stand at 38 from 898 people who were tested. Its positive cases also include the 70-year-old man who died last week and later tested positive for the deadly contagion.

Local bodies to buy food, medicines for daily wagers

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has allowed local bodies to use their funds to buy food and medicines for daily wagers whose livelihoods have been affected by the curfew in Punjab.

 The state government has set a limitation on how much money can be used on such expenditure. The municipal corporations of Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar can spend Rs 1 lakh each, other municipal corporations can use up to Rs 50,000 a day, Class A municipal committees Rs 25,000 a day, and Class B, C and Nagar Panchayats up to Rs 15,000 a day.

Likewise, gram panchayats can buy medicines and food for the daily wagers and the poor out of panchayat funds at their disposal. Each Gram Panchayat has been authorised to spend up to Rs. 5,000 a day, with a maximum limit of Rs 50,000.

The state has so far reported 38 coronavirus cases. The central government as well as several state governments have announced schemes meant to supplement incomes of daily wagers and those vulnerable groups that would lose their livelihood as a result of the countrywide lockdown.

The spiralling coronavirus cases in the country have led the central government to announce a complete lockdown starting Wednesday. Days before, Punjab first announced a lockdown, then imposed a curfew, in an attempt to stop spread of the deadly contagion.

The global pandemic coronavirus has infected 600,000 people worldwide and has so far claimed 27,000 lives. The pandemic, which began in China, has since swept the world, with the highest numbers coming from Italy (9,135) and Spain (5,690). Europe, the epicentre of the crisis, is struggling to contain the death toll.

 India’s cases have spiralled to over 800, with 19 deaths reported so far, including one from Punjab. The state government imposed curfew in the state earlier this week in an attempt to stop the virus spread. The central government also followed a day later with a nationwide lockdown.

Experts say that the lockdown will help “flatten the curve” of the virus.

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