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Janta curfew: Mumbai locks itself up to fight COVID-19

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

The iconic Gateway of India, Juhu beach and the Bandra-Worli sealink, which are otherwise always bustling with activity, wore a desolate look on Sunday as Mumbai joined the nationwide 'Janta curfew' proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to check the spread of coronavirus.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and other suburban train stations, which remain chock-a-block during normal times with thousands of commuters jostling to get inside the overcrowded trains, presented an uncommon sight of being empty as people stayed indoors to support the curfew.

The western and eastern express highways and other arterial roads, which are generally packed with motorists, also looked deserted.

Key market places in Fort, Dadar, Andheri, Borivali, Ghatkopar, Bandra-Kurla Complex and other areas were also empty as the city intensified its fight against the deadly virus by staying away from public places.

Mumbai, known as the city that never sleeps, is not new to natural calamities and man-made disasters, but it never saw such an unprecedented lock-down, triggered by a disease which has acquired global proportions.

While the metropolis battled plague a century ago, witnessed riots in 1992-93, serial bomb blasts in March 1993, deluge in July 2005 and another ghastly terror attack in November 2008, it never shut down.

But, this time, in view of the coronavirus outbreak which has already killed over 13,000 people worldwide, including five in India, the prime minister proposed the day- long curfew between 7 am and 9 pm as part of the social distancing exercise to check the spread of the virus.

The state government authorities on Saturday informed people that only those engaged in essential services would be allowed to travel in local trains, that too after checking their identity papers.

Local trains on the Central line saw 60 per cent services as against the normal 70 per cent on Sundays. The Western Railway cancelled four services, two from Virar to Dahanu Road, and two from Dahanu Road to Dadar and Churchgate.

The Central Railway cancelled 60 long distance trains across Mumbai division, while the Western Railway cancelled 40 mail express and 26 passenger trains from Mumbai. It also cancelled 477 suburban locals on Sunday.

The Mumbai Metro and Mumbai Monorail remained suspended for the day, while BEST buses ran according to their holiday schedule, officials said.

Late on Saturday evening, the Divisional Commissioner of Konkan Region declared that the police and state government staff will be present at all stations to ensure that people do not travel unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the railways announced suspension of all its passenger services from Sunday midnight to March 31 midnight and said only goods trains will run during the period.

Mumbai will subsequently have a virtual lockdown as local train services will stop running from Sunday midnight till March 31.

The Maharashtra government on Sunday said Section 144 of CrPC, which prohibits gathering of over five persons at public places, is being imposed in the state in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Two Covid-19 patients have died in the state.

"The state transport and private bus services will be suspended completely," Thackeray said.

Essential services such as groceries, vegetables vendors, banks and key financial services will continue to operate, he said.

The 'work from home' practice should be encouraged to avoid the spread of coronavirus, Thackeray said.

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

First Published: Sun, March 22 2020. 16:08 IST
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