THE DISTRICT collectorate has decided to get stricter with people regarding marriages, marriage-related rituals, and engagements, which are being conducted in violation of distancing norms and rules for gathering as stipulated by the central government in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I will issue a circular to this effect; it is the responsibility of families concerned to inform police that they are conducting a marriage or engagement ceremony at a particular place. If certain number of marriage ceremonies are taking place at a marriage hall, then it will also be the responsibility of the owner of the hall to intimate to the nearest police station about the number of marriages and the proposed dates,” said District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, also the District Disaster Management Authority.
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The collector said government norms stipulated that only 50 people can attend a marriage ceremony. “But this does not seem to be happening. More people than stipulated are attending marriages and engagement ceremonies leading to further spread of the infection. We are, therefore, directing police to monitor and take action in such cases,” the collector said.
Stating that marriages and gatherings were becoming a major source of infection, Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad told The Indian Express, “In the recent Yerawada case, 22 people, including the bride and groom, were infected. We are still tracing their high-risk contacts. The number of positive cases could go up. It shows how marriage ceremonies or gatherings could lead to a major spread.”
Gaikwad said he was going to direct ward officers to monitor marriages and engagement ceremonies, but he also laid the blame on the police. “Police should strictly regulate marriages, and effectively enforce the law. In fact, in our district review meeting, the deputy chief minister (Ajit Pawar) rapped the police for failing to be effective.”
The district administration said in rural as well as urban areas, people were not adhering to norms despite repeated appeals and circulation of guidelines on social media and through newspapers.
District officials said in rural areas, violations were common, citing last week’s case from Chakan, where at least 24 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus after a member of an engagement party hid his illness. They said the person had left the hall on a two-wheeler and was admitted to the nearest hospital, where he died four days later. At Morachi Chincholi village in Shirur taluka, too, police found that more than 50 people were taking part in a marriage ceremony without observing distancing norms, and booked the marriage party, including the groom, for alleged violation of the guidelines, the officials said.
Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham said if more than 50 people were present at a marriage or engagement ceremony, police will initiate action in PMC limits. “We are already doing it and will continue to take action if guidelines are violated,” he said.
Venkatesham, however, refused to respond if marriage parties intimated the police beforehand. The district collector said his circular will make it mandatory for marriage parties to inform the police.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Additional Municipal Commissioner Santosh Patil said after inter-district travel had been allowed, people were attending marriages and gatherings and returning home with the virus. “There are a number of such cases in Pimpri-Chinchwad. There is a pressing need to control these gatherings, where it seems distancing norms are not followed strictly. If police do strict monitoring, it will certainly help,” he said.
Pune Zilla Parishad CEO Ayush Prasad said it was being observed that people, at least three to four times the stipulated number, were present at every wedding and wedding-related ritual.
He also said even after the wedding, other celebratory events were also taking place. “Police are taking action against violators,” he added.
Prasad said they had decided to continue with the containment zone plan, initiated by the government in March. “All areas or houses, where a positive patient has been found or has travelled to, will be containment zones. Besides, if the patient has travelled between two talukas, those areas, through coordination with officials, are being demarcated as containment zones,” he said.
He also said in rural areas, Haveli taluka had the most positive cases and least deaths.
In another development, the ZP has decided to distribute Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and zinc pills to boost the immunity of senior citizens, who are in the high-risk group. The pills will be distributed door-to-door in rural areas through health workers and Asha workers. Health officials said they had recommended that chewable Vitamin C tablets should be taken daily as well as zinc tablets, while Vitamin D3 can be taken twice a month.
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