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Monday, June 21, 2021

‘How will I walk for miles to buy essentials, how will 40 people come to my home for marriage?’: Karnataka confused over new lockdown norms

Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah slammed the government for issuing such confusing rules, saying people will organise protests if steps are not taken to rectify matters.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 10, 2021 7:31:12 pm
A policewoman catches hold of a motorist violating lockdown norms in Bengaluru on Sunday. (PTI)

Ever since the Karnataka government put out its revised set of guidelines that are to be followed during the ongoing fortnight-long lockdown, Spoorthi Seethamma Muruvanda and her sister, both residents of Kodagu, have been in a fix as to when they can step out to get groceries or medicines for the household.

However, she is not the only one who is confused. Sharing experiences of many in the hilly district, she told that people were forced to walk downhill to the marketplace after parking the car near a hall in Virajpet.

According to the new rules, private vehicles are not permitted to ply except in cases of a medical emergency or to commute to hospitals or healthcare centres for vaccination. Locally, however, some police forces and district administrations have earmarked parking spaces far from markets or commercial areas, thereby forcing people to walk for long distances to get essentials.

“With seven adults and three kids at home, we had to cut down on many essentials as climbing uphill to reach the car with groceries and other essentials turned out to be a tedious task. As such, we will have to step out again in a couple of days as we will soon run out of essentials. We could not even buy the required medicines as that would mean walking further down the road,” she said.

She added that while many shops had taken orders over the phone last year, vendors were wary this time. “They said that they had to cancel many orders as complaints of wrong items being delivered came up. Nonetheless, online or teleshopping is still unfamiliar to many living in rural pockets and do not have the privilege of owning a smartphone,” Muruvanda pointed out. She said that her family chose to give up on their staple food ‘Akki roti’ as carrying rice powder from the mill back to the car has turned out to be “nearly impossible”.

Similarly, Nitin K S, a resident of Mangaluru, wondered how he could go to a bank to make some important transactions during the week. “The guidelines state that banks will open at 10 am but people are allowed to go out for essentials only between 6 am and 10 am. I had called the jurisdictional police station to check what would act as a pass for people like me but they just hung up directing me to avoid the visit. Why has the government allowed banks to operate if they are not accessible to account holders?” he asked.

People who have their marriages scheduled are also very confused when it comes to the new regulations. The lockdown order issued by Chief Secretary P Ravikumar, on Friday, allowed marriages to be held with 50 attendees. However, an addendum issued by Revenue Secretary N Manjunatha Prasad a day later permitted marriages to be held at home and cut down attendance to 40 people.

Among those hit by the revised order was Sindhu Malavalli, a resident of Vijayanagar in Bengaluru. Malavalli told that uncertainty looms large over her marriage that is scheduled to be held later this month.

“We have already lost Rs 50,000 in deposit to a wedding venue as we decided to call off the marriage as restrictions were announced earlier in April. We then moved the event to a small temple in Chamarajpet and cut down the list of invitees to 50. Now, the revision says only 40 can attend,” she said.

As a social worker, she questioned the government’s logic behind allowing 40 people for a function held at home. “For people like us, who live in a 2 BHK in the city, how is this even possible? 40 people crowding inside a house makes things risky as well. The government should issue a clear guideline where one can get an idea about what the rules are,” she said.

Meanwhile, taking into account the grievances raised by citizens from across the state, Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah slammed the government for issuing such confusing rules. “Lockdown guidelines are very confusing. It will not be a surprise if people from rural areas start large-scale protests,” he said.

The former Karnataka CM also noted that people living in rural areas of the state would be affected the most due to the restrictions. “People living in rural parts of the state will have to walk for over two to three kilometres to buy groceries, milk or essential goods. How will a senior citizen walk for such long distances while carrying the stuff he or she has bought?” he asked.

He added that the chief minister should understand that the state is beyond Bengaluru.

To date, Karnataka has reported over 19.3 lakh Covid infections and 18,776 related fatalities. Of these, over 9.3 lakh cases and 6191 deaths have taken place since April 1 this year alone.

No bar for vehicle usage for shopping essentials: Karnataka DGP

Meanwhile, on Monday evening, Karnataka IG&DGP Praveen Sood clarified that citizens will be allowed to use private vehicles to buy essentials from shops.

“To buy groceries, vegetables and daily needs, there is NO BAR for using vehicle to yr neighbourhood shop in cities or nearest availability point in rural areas. Use this facility with discretion & not as a licence for free run everyday. Stay at home for your own safety,” he tweeted.

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