Among those who expressed reservations about the need to bring back lockdown were heads of municipal corporations in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad told The Indian Express he had opposed the move in the meeting.
“I said at the meeting that the lockdown will not benefit the citizens. Cases will rise as we are in the process of conducting more tests. If we reduce the number of tests we are carrying out, then the cases will come down, but that would be against the government norms,” Gaikwad said.
Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said he too was opposed to the idea of another lockdown. “But the latest decision has been taken in view of the demand from peoples’ representatives. It has been taken to break the chain of transmission. Also, it is important to remove the fear from the public mind. Asymptomatic people are afraid of getting isolated at home. They want admission in hospitals. We cannot accommodate so many people at the facilities available,” he said.
City unit of the Congress said the plight of the poor and daily wage workers must be taken into consideration while shutting cities down.
“…Our main concern is whether the economic aspect has been taken into consideration or not. Whether provision of essential goods for the poor and daily wage earners has been made. If industries are going to be closed down, lakhs of ordinary workers will be hit badly. They have already suffered immensely during the three month lockdown. We have reservation on such issues… Lockdown should be imposed after taking the citizens’ plight into consideration,” said Congress general secretary Ramesh Iyer.
Iyer said some relaxations in restrictions must be allowed on certain days, otherwise the poor would find it hard to survive. “These relaxations should be for shopkeepers and traders who suffered for three months. For autorickshaw drivers, salons, tempo drivers, domestic workers, who failed to earn a penny during the lockdown. The question of livelihood of the poor should be kept uppermost in mind,” Iyer said.
AAP city unit chief Mukund Kirdat was critical of the move. “State government says it has begun un-lockdown mission while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is locking cities down. This is nothing but an attempt to create confusion in public mind,” he said.
Kirdat claimed that his party’s government in Delhi had paid Rs 5,000 to unorganised labourers, domestic workers, rickshaw and tempo drivers. “Will the Deputy CM help them monetarily if he intends to lock city down as they are not going to earn anything for 15 days? In Delhi, even power bills have been waived which has eased the life of citizens. There is no such thing happening in Maharashtra,” he said.
AAP said lockdown is an attempt to hide the government’s failure to ensure robust health system. “There is severe shortage of doctors, nurses, other health staff oxygen beds, ventilators in government and civic hospital hospitals. People do not want to stay in COVID Care Centres because of unavailability of health staff and poor quality of food. By resorting to lockdown, government is trying to hide its limitations and inabilities and blaming common people for spreading the virus, “ Kirdat said.
Former Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil called it a ‘retrograde’ decision. “ As far as I know, the state government has begun unlockdown mission. I have no clue whether Ajit Pawar has taken this decision in consultation with the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Lockdown is a retrograde step. Industrial sector is going through a bad phase. We need to support it so that they ensure a living for lakhs of our workers. There is need to create mass awareness about social distancing and remove the fear from the public mind,” he said.
PCMC corporator Seema Savale, former standing committee chairman, said the lockdown would be counter-productive. “About six days of lockdown to send out a message to those who do not observe social distancing norms was fine. Ten days of lockdown will hit everyone hard. And if they are going to close down industries, then families of workers will be forced to commit suicide en masse. As it is, every day jobless citizens are committing suicide across Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad,” she said.
Advocate Manisha Jadhav said there is no activity happening in court and hundreds of advocates have earned nothing for months now. “In courts, hardly any hearings are taking places. Only urgent matters are being taken up. How will the advocates earn a living? They also have their families to look after,” she said.
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