Wednesday, May 19, 2021
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Round about COVID-19 – Challenges ahead

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day-long lockdown across the country in order to tackle the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. As soon as the lockdown was announced, people rushed to nearby grocery stores and milk shops to stock on daily essentials. Within two days of lock down the stores have gone out of stock with essential commodities. The prices are shot up. Due to Sunday’s Janata Curfew, fruits, flowers and vegetables gone rotten in the market as people could not reach here. In between the price of tomatoes soared to Rs 100 per kg. One normal shopping bag which used to be for ten rupees is now for 25 rupees. Onion, green leafy veggies and fruits soared to double the price. Vegetable vendor in Navi Mumbai, Dadar and Borivali BMC market facing very little supply of vegetables and most of them are selling it for whatever price they getting. However, as people are in a rush to buy and not bargaining much some vegetable vendors are making most of the situation by selling it for as much Rs 100 per kg. While in the wholesale market tomatoes were selling for as much as Rs 70-80 per kg. Despite repetitive assurance by Chief Minister and central government, people are hoarding on to things. The last moment panic buying has added to the price of vegetables. Right now, adequate stock of veritable, fruits and grocery are matter of concern. Social distancing not maintained as people queue up for vegetables, groceries. The Prime Minister said ‘lockdown’, and Mumbaikars came out in full force, masks on their faces, and shopping bags in their hands. And for those few hours on Tuesday evening, social distancing was nowhere in sight.

In a panic reaction reminiscent of 2016, when demonetization was announced, hundreds of citizens poured out into Mumbai’s streets in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing a nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19. The PM, in an address to the country, declared that India would be under lockdown for the next 21 days to fight the pandemic. With the State already under lockdown since Monday, most shops were shut and only those selling essential supplies were operational. Even before Modi could finish his address, people rushed out of their homes to stock up on essentials like groceries and medicines. Powai residents descended on the streets in their swanky cars and sports utility vehicles to buy whatever vegetables were available in Powai Vihar market. Barely a few minutes after the Prime Minister concluded his address, the road in our locality was flooded with headlights of cars searching for parking space in the narrow lane. The vegetable vendors, it appears, were expecting this kind of an announcement because late in the evening they started sorting the vegetables. It was depressing to see people jostling with each other in long queues in front of vegetable vendors. There was no social distancing and it was like all perdition had broken loose. Western Mumbai to South Mumbai residents were rushing out to vegetable markets and grocery stores in Borivali, Bandra, Grant Road, Colaba and other areas, but most shops had run out of stock. Those that did have stock, saw some manhandling and aggressive attacks. At some shops in Mumbai, a few people volunteered to ask everyone to be disciplined, queue up and maintain distance. Meat shops had run out of chicken and mutton since two long days. Large crowds were also seen at chemist shops. Assurances that these shops would be open through the lockdown did not seem to be working.

The civic-run market near Thane railway station observed a sudden surge of customers at around 8.30 p.m. with people buying vegetables to last them as long as possible. Shops had already run out of essentials like milk, bread and eggs by then. If this continues then future is going to be worse, as people will flock from the morning itself, when the fresh supply comes in. Similar scenes were witnessed in various pockets of Mira Road and Bhayander. Bakeries saw the maximum crowd as people rushed to stock bread, eggs and milk among other essentials. Police personnel stationed near Maxus Mall who were earlier stopping motorcycles and sending people back home could do nothing to stop people from crowding the streets to shop for essentials. Long queues were noticed at grocery stores in Navi Mumbai, with cars parked all around. These places were almost empty for the past few days with a handful coming through the day to buy supplies. A similar scene was observed in medical stores. Vegetable and milk sellers confirmed that supply was on till Tuesday morning but said they are unsure about Wednesday, despite the State government assuring essential supply. Everyone, including the wholesalers, is still ascertaining exactly what the lockdown entails. Believing that the 21-day lockdown would also mean a dearth of cash, people rushed to ATMs to withdraw money. Citizens were seen taking to Twitter and social media tagging the Mumbai police in tweets about crowds in their localities. The police issued advisories asking people not to panic and also increased deployment on the roads to avoid untoward incidents.

Amid of all this chaos, there is sign of relief too, Lalbaughcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has been organising a blood donation camp for the last two days and intend to continue for the next 10 days. They collected 115 bottles of blood. A social organisation called Swayamsiddha Swayamrojgar Apang has been sending social media messages to people across the city requesting them to help with groceries or funding, which could further be donated to the needy. Jamaat-e-islami Hind, along with students group Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), distributed 1000 food packets to daily wage earners at Vikhroli, Kurla, Madanpura, Oshiwara and Andheri on Sunday and Monday. City-based Project Mumbai is helping provide groceries and medicines to those in-home quarantine with no delivery charges. Shishir Joshi, chief executive officer, they are trying to find a solution with authorities where we can issue special passes to the volunteers for the next few days. Yuva, an NGO working with marginalised communities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, have reached out to 668 families with basic provisions in the last few days. Not just NGOs, citizens too are helping out individually by making meals for the needy. Social organisation Rahmah foundation started by Masjid-e-Rahmah in Mumbra are also providing free meals to over 500 to 800 people on a daily basis.

Some are really working for humanity is these crises there are some who shut their business and took pause. A doctor in Mumbai has shut his clinic for an indefinite period after an Italy returnee who came to him for medical advice later tested positive for the novel Coronavirus. There are many physicians who shut down their shops for long time. The beauty parlors are shuts, no saloons or barber shops operational. Spa. Wellness centers to all luxury places already shut but basic medical services too are closed down by the doctors.

Banks too have offered door to door services for people those are in need of money. Courts and police stations are functional, but crime rate has drastically gone down. At the same time there is less pollution in Mumbai. With lock down livelihood is challenge for small business groups, where are rich and government employees are at peace because they have paid leaves to celebrate. Travel industry collapsed, aviation to railway all are in losses. There are some gains but greater losses too. Temples and other worship places are closed. God is also kept quarantined, only communication among people is cellphone and internet. Well! If you can’t go out go with in you and use this time for better yourself.

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Dr. Vaidehi
Dr. Vaidehi
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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