In Ghaziabad: Residents panic, hunt for ATMs and grocers, after PM announced countrywide lockdown to fight coronavirusUpdated: Mar 24, 2020 23:06 IST
Ghaziabad: Residents of Ghaziabad city went into panic mode on Tuesday night, frantically searching for ATMs and grocery shops as a complete lockdown of the entire country was announced for 21 days, in order to contain the spread of Sars-Cov-2.
The lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday at 8pm in an address to the nation on television as well as social media. The lockdown will be more stringent than the janta curfew which was observed on March 22, the PM said.
“As soon as I heard the speech, I was taken aback. I spoke to one of my friends who told me that there was an ATM outside his highrise to where people had started flocking to withdraw cash. Hearing this, I disconnected the call and also rushed to the nearest ATM to withdraw cash foreseeing necessity in the coming 21 days,” said Dr Navneet Verma, a resident of Maliwara locality in old city of Ghaziabad.
Similar scenes were witnessed in areas of Indirapuram, where residents flocked to the streets to buy vegetables.
“About 250 to 300 residents had gathered at the street outside the Jaipuria highrise on Tuesday night where a vegetable vendors set up shop daily. They resorted to panic buying. For the coming 21 days, we are making efforts so that experts and doctors speak to residents via video conferencing as many may feel anxious due to the countrywide lockdown of 21 days,” said Alok Kumar, founder member of the federation of association of apartment owners.
In the Vasundhara area, the panic on the roads was palpable. After the Prime Minister’s address, a large number of people came on to the streets. Since only two ATMs out of a total of five were functioning across sectors 1, 2 and 3, long queues were witnessed outside both of them. “We will follow the PM’s instructions completely as he has derived the best way to fight this deadly virus,” said Lokesh Kumar, a primary school teacher in Ghaziabad, who was in the queue at an ATM in Sector 2.
Scenes at grocery and vegetable shops were different as many owners had downed shutters as they had ran out of stock. “We do not have stocks of rice, pulses or flour anymore. I locked my shop as a precaution as customers could become impatient,” said Ashish Mittal, the owner of Mittal Kirana Store in Sector 1.
However, for a cigarette shop owner who goes by the name of Panditji in Sector 3, his day was made within one hour of the PM’s address. “All my cigarette and pan masala stocks were emptied in less than an hour. This was despite the fact that I charged Rs 10 more than the stipulated price on every packet of cigarettes and pan masala. But even so, I could not meet everyone’s demand. Finally, I closed my shop at 9.15pm. My sales today in this one-odd hour were more than Rs 75,000,” he said.
The two districts of Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar are already under lockdown from March 23, up to March 25, but the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday announced a lockdown for the entire state from March 25 to March 27.
This was before the PM announced the 21 days’ lockdown of the entire country.
Earlier in the day, UP’s additional chief secretary (ACS home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi, while addressing the media in state capital Lucknow, had said that all district magistrates have been informed that they can impose curfew in their respective areas in case they find the situation sensitive in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
“The residents have been advised not to venture out in parks till April 14. We are also considering putting a ban on pan masala and gutkha in the coming days,” Awasthi had said.
The UP government has also directed for formation of four committees in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak. The first committee will be headed by the chief secretary for ensuring coordination with various state government departments. The second committee will be headed by the commissioner (agriculture production) to ensure the availability of essential commodities during the lockdown period.
The third committee is to be headed by the industrial development commissioner for ensuring that labourers working in factories and businesses get their wages. Awasthi added the commissioner will maintain vigil on working of industrial towns such as Ghaziabad and Noida, and coordinate with industrial associations to ensure employees work from home.
The fourth committee will be headed by the ACS himself, along with the director general of police to ensure deployment, imposition of curfew and monitoring border movements, among other tasks.
According to state officials, the UP police, in the 17 districts which were placed under lockdown by the CM, had registered about 360 FIRs in which a total of 1,165 persons were booked for lockdown violations.
“About 1,285 check points were created in these districts and 32,830 vehicles were checked during the lockdown period. About 13,219 challans were issued,” Awasthi added.
In Ghaziabad, a total of 88 samples have been sent for testing till now while 67 reports were received till March 24. Officials said 64 of these were found negative while three tested positive. Two of the three, who had tested positive, were later discharged from the hospital while one is under treatment at a hospital in Delhi.
The rest of the reports are awaited.