EVEN as residents in Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad on Saturday thronged vegetable markets and grocery shops to make their purchases before the 10-day lockdown, which starts on July 14, District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the administration was holding discussions on whether to allow grocery shops and vegetable vendors to operate for limited hours during the lockdown.
“I have already said there are no plans to close down manufacturing units in city areas. As for grocery shops and vegetable vendors, we might offer some relaxation window but nothing is final. We might not even allow them though there is growing demand from traders and shopkeepers. Discussions are still underway with municipal commissioners of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad,” the district collector said, urging residents to avoid panic buying as the strict lockdown will only be implemented for five days.
“Though some are against the lockdown, one thing is certain, there will be stricter lockdown of five days to halt the chain of transmission. Those who are against the lockdown should help us bring down the rising Covid-19 graph in the city by spreading awareness about social distancing and urging people to stay at home,” he said.
“As for the IT sector, the employees already have the option of working from home. They have not been allowed to function at full strength so far. The sector can continue to operate in the same way,” said Ram.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar also issued an appeal to residents to avoid crowded markets place, which could lead to spread of the virus. “There is time till Monday before the lockdown begins… The stricter lockdown is only for five days and not for 10 days,” he said. Hardikar said PCMC is planning to allow only medicine shops and milk vendors to operate. “As for industrial units, some of them will certainly remain open… and they will have to strictly follow norms or face closure,” he warned.
Mahendra Pitaliya, secretary of the Federation of Traders Association of Pune, said the body had over 30,000 traders as its members. “All of them are upset at the decision. They suffered for three months… we tried to speak to Ajit Pawar on Friday and Saturday, but his secretary said the deputy chief minister was in Baramati and not reachable. We spoke to the district collector, who told us the administration will consider our demands at a meeting on Monday,” he said.
The traders’ body has also sent a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, warning that the lockdown move could lead to mass protests.
Labour leader Yeshwant Bhosale, president of the Rashtirya Shramik Aghadi, however, said the district administration should enforce strict discipline among manufacturing units. “Covid-19 cases in the industrial sector are rising as no efforts are being made by industrialists to ensure that social distancing norms are strictly followed within their premises… The collectorate should initiate strict measures in association with the police,” said Bhosale, who has detailed the violations of norms in industrial units in a letter to the Chief Minister.
Alleging that elected representatives were not taken into confidence about the lockdown, Pune city MP and BJP leader Girish Bapat on Saturday said, “Those not wearing masks and keeping social distancing should be punished with fines. But for 3 per cent of the population in containment zones, 97 per cent fo the city should not be held to ransom. The decision to impose lockdown was taken without taking people’s representatives into confidence. It was not even discussed with us.”
BJP MLA Siddharth Shirole said,”The entire decision seems to have been taken based on what civic officials said. But people’s representatives like MLAs or MPs were not taken into confidence.”
Shirole said the government had 100 days to ensure a robust health system in Pune. “Unfortunately, patients are dying because there is no space in hospitals. This shows they have failed to ensure a strong health network… The lockdown could have easily been prevented with proactive action,” he said.
BJP’s Bhosari MLA Mahesh Landge said he supported the lockdown but sought exemption for industrial units. “In view of the rising positive cases, lockdown is the right step but manufacturing should not be shut under any condition. If industrial units are shut, lakhs of poor workers and their families will be severely affected,” he said.
Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne said he was in favour of a strict lockdown. “The decision has been taken by the state government to bring down the rising Covid-19 graph. Instead of a five-day strict lockdown, it should be a 10-day strict lockdown,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines