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Delhi lockdown: Many ignore prohibitory orders on Day 1, CM warns of strict action against violators

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Those violating the lockdown in Delhi will face strict action, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned on Monday as many people ignored instructions to stay at home on the first day and large crowds were seen at interstate bus terminals and other places despite prohibitory orders, sparking concerns about the spread of coronavirus

Traffic crawled on the Delhi borders as police barricaded roads and conducted thorough checks on those entering the national capital. Doctors, patients going to hospitals, media personnel and those involved in essential services were allowed to pass. All satellites cities --- Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon --- saw traffic jams.

Admitting that "execution" of the prohibitory orders in the city was "not up to the mark today", the Delhi Police moved to seal all border pickets and said curfew passes will be issued to people associated with essential services.

Mediapersons, however, will not need the passes and their ID cards will suffice, they said.

On Sunday, police imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in Delhi till March 31 in view of the coronavirus outbreak, banning assembly of four or more people in one place.

In a communication on Monday, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Srivastava ordered that all border pickets in Delhi be sealed with "immediate effect".

All essential services will continue without any hinderance, he said.

According to the order, private organisations in Delhi engaged in essential services will seek curfew passes from the office of the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) of their respective district.

Most shops were shut, but dairies, grocery shops, chemists, petrol pumps, ATMs remained open. Metro, autos, taxis and cab aggregators have already suspended their services due to the lockdown.

Though there were few vehicles and people on the roads early in the day, the traffic increased as the day progressed and people came out of their houses to stock essential commodities.

With all interstate bus services and passenger trains suspended across the country, hundreds of people, especially labourers, who wanted to return to their hometowns, were stranded at the ISBTs in the national capital.

A transport official said there was no movement of buses from any state at Kashmiri Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar inter-state bus terminals.

Suraj Kumar (23), a labourer from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, said he wants to return to his village as there is no work here due to coronavirus.

Kumar, who was at the Anand Vihar Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) in the hope of getting a bus, said his family members are concerned about him and have been asking him to return.

Prakash Singh (29), a painter, said it is not possible to sustain in the city without work.

"I have been here (Anand Vihar ISBT) for four hours. But I am yet to get any bus for Buxar in Bihar. It is not possible for us to live here without work. My relatives lives in Gorakhpur and if I get any transport till there, then we can manage from there easily," Singh said.

Kejriwal said the people should observe the lockdown in place in the national capital to contain the spread of coronavirus or they will face strict action.

He also announced that 50 per cent of the DTC buses will be operational from Tuesday to ensure those involved in essential services do not face problems.

In an online media briefing, Kejriwal said the lockdown is for everyone's benefit and it is important to ensure that the virus does not spread further. He also cited the examples of Italy and the US where the number of coronavirus was in hundreds initially but rose exponentially within weeks.

An official of the Delhi Health department said they have started putting stickers outside the residences of those who have been home quarantined.

The Delhi Police also appealed to people through social media and public announcement systems to stay at home and venture out only in case of an emergency.

Any person contravening prohibitory order shall be punishable under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of Indian Penal Code, officials said.

The policemen have been asking shopkeepers to ensure that only one customer at a time makes the purchase, while others maintain social distance and wait in queue.

The Delhi Police has initiated a strong vigil to keep the public safe by ensuring the compliance to the directions of the government, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Narendra Bundela said.

Meanwhile, a woman from Manipur has alleged that an unidentified man spat on her and called her "corona" in northwest Delhi's Vijay Nagar area, police said on Monday. A case has been filed and police are trying to identify the man, they said.

The incident took place on Sunday around 10 pm, the police said.

With most of the vehicles remained off the road. Indraprastha Gas Ltd shut down nearly two-thirds of its dispensing outlets in Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad.

The firm has some 155 self-operated compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in the National Capital Territory. The CNG dispensing operations at petrol pumps as well as Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) depots will continue unhindered.

AIIMS-New Delhi said it would shut down its outpatient department (OPD), including speciality services and all new and follow-up patients' registration from Tuesday till further orders.

Even as the lockdown started, the Aam Aadmi Party government presented its first budget after registering a landslide victory last month. The Budget session of the Assembly concluded after a nearly 90-minute sitting.

"Delhi has 30 cases. Twenty-three are those who have returned from abroad, seven are their family members who have been infected," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.

"Currently, the situation is under control. Lessons from other countries state that if strictness is not adhered to, things can go out control. This is why there is a lockdown so that the situation does not go out of hand," Kejriwal said.

The Health and Family Welfare department had issued a detailed order on Sunday, notifying the lockdown in the whole of Delhi, stipulating various restrictions.

It includes no operation of public transport, including private buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws. All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices weekly markets have to be closed.

All motorable and non-motorable borders of Delhi with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been sealed. Movement of interstate buses, trains and Delhi Metro trains will be closed.

The essential services excluded from restrictions include law and order and magisterial duty, police, health, fire, prisons, fair price shops, electricity, water, municipal services, print and electronic media, teller operations including ATMs, food items, groceries, general provision stores, take-away delivery in restaurants, petrol pumps, LPG cylinder agencies, e-commerce of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

The death toll in India due to the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to nine on Monday after West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh reported a casualty each, while the number of confirmed cases soared to 468, the Union Health Ministry said.

Kejriwal said that the restrictions imposed in the wake of coronavirus were causing a financial burden on the poor and daily wage labourers.

"We had initially decided to set-up kitchens across the city and distribute free food to the poor, but the idea had to be shunned because free distribution of food will result in a mass gathering of the people at a particular spot," he said.

He announced that the government has decided to provide 7.5 kilos of free rations to 72 lakh beneficiaries attached to the ration scheme for one month. Earlier, wheat was available at Rs 2 per kg, rice at Rs 3 per kg and sugar at Rs 13 per kg.

"Now, the ration will be provided free of cost at 50 per cent more quantity than normal entitlements for April. We will also supply the ration for April, from March 30, because it will take us time to procure the ration from the central government and distribute it," he said.

He also urged people to maintain a distance of one metre in the ration queues.

Around 18 lakh families will be covered under the ration scheme.

The government has also decided to double the pension under the widow pension scheme for 2.5 lakh beneficiaries, the old-age pension scheme for five lakh beneficiaries, and disability pension scheme for one lakh beneficiaries, he said.

"The beneficiaries will get the pension amount for March and April, by April 7. We are also arranging for free lunch and dinner facilities in 220-night shelters for every person," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 24 2020. 00:10 IST