April 17, 2021 12:48:19 am
Roads and railway stations in Navi Mumbai wore a deserted look on Friday morning, the second day of the new restrictions imposed across Maharashtra aimed at breaking the chain of Covid-19 infections.
But as the day progressed, people began venturing out and thronging markets. Many were either not wearing masks at all or not wearing them properly. Crowding was also witnessed outside liquor shops.
Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Bipin Kumar Singh said, “As per the new curbs, people are allowed to move around for certain things, like work and essential purposes. We are trying to restrict their movement but we have to understand that this is not a lockdown, these are restrictions imposed by the government.”
“While people wear masks when they see a patrolling police, they remove them soon after,” he added.
In a press statement, the police said that it had lodged 147 FIRs and 79,698 non-cognizable offences between March 15 and April 15 for violation of Covid-19 norms.
The restrictions, meanwhile, have impacted the small businesses and the self-employed. “The footfall at the railway station has dropped, impacting our business tremendously. Our shop used to make at least Rs 70,000 per month through sale of burgers. It has now fallen to just Rs 5,000,” said Anjali Pandey, who works at an eatery at Vashi station.
While Palm Beach road and Sion-Panvel highway witnessed more traffic, interior roads in Vashi, Nerul, Belapur and Airoli remained deserted with all shops and restro bars shuttered.
A store manager at an hypermarket in Vashi said, “These restrictions have impacted the movement of people on the road, directly affecting our business. We wanted to stay in the game and invested more money after the lockdown last year. More manpower was brought in… and just as we were on the verge of recovering 50 per cent of last year’s losses, the new curbs blindsided us.”
For Daulat Patil, a 49-year-old autorickshaw driver and father of two, the government’s decision to postpone board examination last year had forced him to stay on, but he had to borrow money to feed his family.
“Last year, my son had to appear for HSC board examination, but no one knew when the exams would be held. I did not go back to Satara as returning will be difficult if the government announced the date of examinations after I reached my native place,” he added.
Patil took a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh last May as he had no income because autorickshaws were not allowed to operate. “I don’t want my children to become autorickshaw drivers. I tell them to study hard and get a job in a private company.”
A year later, this April, Patil again has to choose between staying or returning home. His daughter is set to appear for BCom examinations.
“I am yet to repay Rs 70,000 of what I had borrowed. If these restrictions continue, I don’t know how I will survive, as we don’t have any passengers to ferry,” he said as he stood awaiting a passenger outside Nerul station.
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