Updated: March 27, 2020 7:38:33 pm
Days after the city reported its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, Kedarnath Society on Kothariya Road of Rajkot has blocked its entry gate “to restrict movement of vehicles and people in the locality.” The society is located near the neighbourhood from where the first COVID-19 case of the city was reported on March 19.
Residents of the society have blocked the main gate of the society with bamboo sticks. Two hand-written posters hanging from the sticks announce “Pravesh Bandh (entry prohibited).” There are around 200 row-houses in this middle-class neighbourhood. Majority of residents own micro or small industrial units.
“After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown for three weeks, we held a meeting of the society and decided to block the main gate in order to prevent movement of vehicles. The main road passes through our society and also connects New Kedarnath Society and New Sagar Society. Not only that, people from Jungleshwar also use this road. As a safety measure against the spread of coronavirus, every member of the society agreed to block the gate. We talked to the police and they didn’t have any objection. Therefore, we blocked the entrance on Wednesday,” Ukabhai Lavadiya, president of the society’s welfare association, said.
Lavadiya, a government-approved civil work contractor who is also a member of the executive of BJP’s Rajkot city unit, said that no one from the society has so far complained against the blockade. “There are provision stores and two dairy farms in the society and therefore residents here may not require to go outside to purchase items of daily use. For vegetables, we are allowing vendors to enter from a nearby road. People have been cooperating and I have not received any complaints,” the president added.
Rajkot Municipal Corporation and the district administration has completely shut down the society in which the 36-year-old who tested positive for the virus lives. That blockade has put around 450 members of 97 families in that society under heavy restrictions of movement but the government is supplying them with all items of daily usage.
Lavadiya said that there are alternative roads, for example 80-Feet Road, which connect the New Kedarnath Society and the New Sagar Society to the rest of the city.
“The infection has already started spreading in the city. Blocking the gate means less number of vehicles and people passing through our society,” said 30-year-old Piyush Korat who runs a small unit manufacturing stainless steel door knobs and handles.
Bhanu Desai, who runs a provision store with her husband Ashok on the main road of the society, said her business has not been affected. “In fact, I am running low on stocks as people have started purchasing in bulk. For example, my customers who would usually purchase a kilogramme of sugar are purchasing five kg these days,” she said.
H L Rathod, assistant commissioner of police (east zone) in whose jurisdiction the Kedarnath Society falls, said he was not aware about this society in particular. “But we have not ordered societies to keep their gates shut. We have ordered people to remain indoors to the extent possible. If some have closed gates, they could have done with the consensus of the residents. We have not received any complaints of people blocking roads,” said the ACP.
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