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To keep Covid at bay, Punjab villages self-impose lockdown-like curbs

The self-imposed restrictions include thikri pehras, restricted hours for shops to operate, ban on entry of street vendors, among others.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
May 19, 2021 11:02:02 am
Punjab, COVID-19Residents of Bhokra in Punjab’s Bathinda district have sealed their village. Express Photo

With the second Covid wave hitting the rural belt hard, Punjab villages are imposing their own lockdown-like curbs to contain the deadly spread of the virus. The self-imposed restrictions include thikri pehras, restricted hours for shops to operate, ban on entry of street vendors, among others. The violators are also being fined by the local panchayats.

Fazilka’s Ghuriana is one such village that has imposed these restrictions.

Ghuriana Sarpanch Charanjeet Singh said, “Our panchayat decided to let shops in village open for 4 hours in a day in two slots – 7 am-9 am and 6 pm- 8 pm. This is different from administration’s guidelines to open shops from 9 am- 2 pm. This way people who go for jobs and even farmers who are busy in fields can buy things from shops. If shopkeepers will open shops outside these hours, they will be fined Rs 2000 each time. We have also got sampling done of all the shopkeepers from our village. In addition to this, if any positive patient is found breaking home isolation, his information will be given to health authorities for appropriate legal action.”

Charanjeet, who is in home isolation after testing positive on May 11, added, “If one person of the family tests positive, sampling of entire family and close contacts will be compulsory. We have also made a village Covid committee that shares information about positive cases and even keeps on inquiring if anyone in the village is having any Covid-like symptoms. We have banned entry of street vendors inside the village too.”

Fazilka’s Arniwala Mandi, which has 200 shops and caters to 25 villages in the district, has imposed a one-week lockdown on its own. The shopkeepers here decided to close their entire mandi for 7 days from May 18.

A similar lockdown has been imposed by 200 shopkeepers of Khuain Sarwar Mandi, where two Covid deaths happened in a single day, including that of a person in his mid-30s.

Pawandeep Singh, Sarpanch of village Bheetiwala in Muktsar district, said, “Our village has one eye hospital at Sant Tehal Das Dera, where doctors from Ganganagar used to come once in a week for check-ups. But these days, doctors have stopped coming. So with the consultation of hospital management, we decided to make this hospital as an isolation centre for Level 1 patients. Around 15 persons can be isolated here and RMPs of village have volunteered to provide free services to look after the isolated patients. ”

Pawandeep, who is also president of the Sarpanch Union of a block of 57 villages in Lambi constituency, said, “All our village panchayats have started thikri pehras in the evening hours and we are regularly getting announcements done through village gurdwaras about Covid awareness. Outsiders in our villages are allowed only if necessary.”

Paramjeet Singh, is Sarpanch of Nangal Kalan village in Mansa, which is a containment zone as of now because of nearly 100 positive cases and 3 deaths. He said that the entry points of village are being guarded by villagers along with cops.

Paramjeet added, “No doubt in a containment zone entry of outsiders is prohibited, but still we have offered to do stand guard so that villagers understand that it is for our benefit and hence they should not try to break the guidelines.”

Bathinda’s Bhokra is yet another village where villagers have adopted their own measures following six deaths.

Falel Singh Brar, Sarpanch of the village, said,” We have sealed our village on our own and our team makes entry of every villager entering or going out of the village. Only in case of an emergency, we allow them to move out and the same is for outsiders who want to come inside village. At times, we even call the villager at naka point only to meet their guest so that he/she can be turned away from there itself. ”

Jagmeet Singh, a Bhokra resident, said, “We have become alert now. Whenever any outsider wants to come inside our village, we ask them as to whether they have got themselves vaccinated or even got Covid test done. The villagers who don’t take it seriously, we tell them to meet the families whose loved ones have died. It is high time. We have to get serious now.”

Meanwhile, already over two dozen containment zones have been made in Punjab villages.

“All those villages where positive cases or deaths are happening, are accepting this fact that Covid is deadly,” said Dharminder Singh, from Takipur village of Sangrur, where 5 persons had died due to Covid in a spam of days.

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