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TN under effective lockdown, authorities innovate to rein in people

Press Trust of India  |  Chennai 

Police and local officials in Tamil Nadu pleaded with folded hands and used makeshift water cannons among other measures to enforce the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus as people moved around at several places, though road traffic dwindled to a trickle across the state.

While officials put up barricades at key intersections and flyovers in the state to prevent movement of vehicles, several motorists managed to hit the road violating the norms and were cautioned by the police personnel of action. At some places the police personnel used batons on people too.

In a moving gesture, a traffic police official on the arterial Anna Salai here, with folded hands, pleaded with motorists to stay at home and offered to even fall at their feet.

A youth, on a two-wheeler with folded hands, said he was ready to reciprocate his gesture, adding that he will abide by the restrictions.

At the temple town of Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district in south Tamil Nadu, local authorities resorted to spraying water from a tanker on people who had gathered in large numbers in a market place to disperse them.

Taken by surprise, people took to their heels to avoid getting drenched.

On day one of the three-week lockdown, groceries, vegetable and meat markets and pharmacies were open.

Similarly, in several other markets, including in Namakkal and Nagapattinam districts, police had to intervene to discipline people to maintain social distance and avoid crowding.

In the state-run low-cost Amma Canteens, authorities drew a one metre "divider line" on the floor to ensure gap and a similar measure was adopted by authorities in markets elsewhere in the state like Paravai in Nagapattinam.

While over a dozen two-wheelers and a truck were detained in Madurai for violations, some motorcycle-borne youths were baton-charged for violating restrictions at Satyamangalam in Erode district.

The exercise of pasting stickers on the doors of those home quarantined, which began on Tuesday, continued today as well. A major chunk of these people were either foreign returnees or others had been in direct touch with them.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami, chaired a high-level meeting in his office here to review the effective implementation of the lockdown. Chief Secretary K Shanmugam and Director General of Police J K Tripathy were among the senior officials participated who participated in it.

Following the meeting, Palaniswami said he has directed promotion of all students from first to ninth classes in view of the curbs

Also, the ubiquitous tea-cum-snack shops across the state must be shut, he said.

Flying squads comprising officials from local bodies, police and revenue departments were deployed throughout the state to monitor the lockdown.

Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner K G Prakash said the flying squads would also advise maintaining distance when people come out to buy essentials and stern action would be taken against violators of curbs.

Chennai Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan told reporters that 10 checkposts have been put up around the city as part of measures to implement the lockdown.

Teams in coordination with civic officials were verifying if those quarantined were staying at home, he said.

To a question, he said two people have been arrested and remanded to judicial custody for spreading a rumour that 11 people died here in connection with the contagion.

While Section 144 of the CrPC, and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 have already been invoked by the state government to place curbs, Viswanathan said now the provisions of the Disaster Management Act may also be used by the department, if necessary, in view of the nationwide restrictions.

The top city police official warned that vehicles will be impounded if people continued to violate orders.

"This not a holiday season and this is the time to act responsibly," Viswanathan said, appealing to people to avoid venturing out for flimsy reasons.

Vehicular traffic significantly dropped across the state and key inter-state borders.

With people scrambling to buy food items, meat stall owners had a reason to cheer as the price of broiler chicken, which had seen a dip recently, climbed to about Rs 100 a kilo in several places.

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

First Published: Wed, March 25 2020. 21:30 IST