The strict restrictions in place in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, to contain the coronavirus pandemic, will continue for some time although the Central government has indicated easing of the lockdown by allowing shops and stores (except malls) to open across the country.
On Saturday, the Union Home Ministry allowed opening of shops in residential complexes and market complexes, except shops in malls, with 50 per cent strength of workers. All employees will have to wear masks and observe social distancing.
Later, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar held a review meeting at the Council Hall with senior officials of the district to decide on the future course of action. During the meeting, authorities decided to continue with stringent lockdown measures in Pune due to the steadily rising number of COVID-19 cases, which has crossed 1,000.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said although official directives regarding the ‘stringent lockdown’ will be issued only on Monday – when the seven-day period of the current measures ends – easing of lockdown in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad was unlikely.
“The decision on opening of shops, except those in malls, in Maharashtra will be taken by the state government. However, considering the situation in Pune and Mumbai, the deputy chief minister indicated that it was unlikely that these cities will get the benefit of easing any curbs. The minister has directed us to take strong measures to control the rate of infection and death,” said Ram.
Pawar also reviewed the arrangements taken at the quarantine centres and shelters for migrant labourers and directed officials to take requisite measures to decongest slum areas temporarily by shifting out some members of each family to an institutional quarantine facility.
In the slums where population density is high and several people of a family live within a cramped space, maintaining social distance is a challenge. Considering this, the municipal corporations are going to create facilities within the cities, in hostels and educational institutions, so that a few members of such families from the slums can shift to these facilities to avoid spread of the virus, said Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar.
“This is one of the ways in which the issues being faced in maintaining social distancing can be addressed. This will also be helpful in keeping the elderly and others with co-morbidities such as hypertension, kidney diseases, cardiac issues and asthama. They should be housed in a separate room. If this is a problem due to lack of enough space in the house, those who can should shift to temporary accommodation facilities the municipal corporations are creating. We will also acquire private hotels for this purpose from the owners and it will be mandatory for them to make them available to the administration,” said Mhaisekar.
Action against 19 fair price shops for malpractice
Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said on Saturday that following complaints of malpractice and pilferage of foodgrains from fair price shops (FPS), tahsildars have been asked to inspect the FPS and ensure that foodgrain distribution is happening as per the rules.
“So far, we have taken action against 19 shop operators who were found to have violated the rules. Permits were cancelled in four cases, shop owners were penalised in three cases, 11 permits were suspended and in one case, the deposit amount was confiscated,” said Ram.
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