After panic buying, people of Assam ensure total lockdown
Guwahati, March 25 (PTI): Markets, offices and even gas agencies were closed and roads were empty across Assam on Wednesday, the first day of the nationwide lockdown imposed to check the spread of novel coronavirus, as people remained indoors after resorting to panic buying in the past two days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday evening announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Officials described the situation as “peaceful” and said that no untoward incident has been reported in the state so far.
Only a few vehicles engaged in emergency duties were seen plying the roads of the towns and cities.
A few grocery shops opened early in the morning but their owners too downed the shutters of their establishments later in the day due to lack of customers.
The supply of milk by private vendors was disrupted in many urban and semi-urban areas of the state, officials said.
Tempos providing water to areas not connected with municipal supply were seen continuing providing their services, they said.
Banks and ATMs remained open but there were hardly any customers, bank officials said.
Vendors in Guwahati have decided not to distribute newspapers till March 31 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Areas of usually bustling Guwahati, the commercial hub of Assam and the Northeast, wore a deserted look with only the district administration office, treasury and banks remaining operation with a skeletal staff, they said.
People resorted to panic buying across the state since Monday after Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced an eight-day lockdown in the state, which was later increased to three weeks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as the Assam minister assured that grocery items, LPG gas cylinders and medicines would be available during the period.
Markets had witnessed a huge rush of buyers on Tuesday. Vegetables, fishes, meat and eggs were sold at double the normal price.
With Assam being dependent on the supply of rice, pulses, fish and eggs from outside the state, people had restored to stocking goods for at least 10 days.
The budget session of the Assam Assembly had taken place on Tuesday and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, his cabinet colleagues and legislators were allowed inside the premises after thermal screening, officials said.
The number of journalists allowed from each media organisation to cover Assembly proceedings was curtailed to ensure social distancing, they said.
Meanwhile, Tinsukia district Deputy Commissioner Bhaskar Pegu said that 349 people have been put under home quarantine as they had entered the district through rail or air routes.
In Lakhimpur district, 664 people have been home quarantined with 21 of them recently returning from abroad, a senior health official said.
Health check-up has been conducted on inter-state truck drivers at Dhalpur in the district, he said.
A designated dhaba has been kept open in the district 24/7 to serve food to truck drivers and people engaged in emergency duties, officials said.
In the hill district of Karbi Anglong, 315 people have been placed under home isolation, a release issued by the deputy commissioner said.
In Nalbari district, police personnel accompanying Deputy Commissioner Bharat Bhusan Dev had to resort to mild lathi-charge in several areas to disperse gatherings.
Choudhury told PTI that police personnel are urging people to remain indoors and are strictly enforcing the lockdown.
He said fire services department sprayed disinfectants through fire tenders in several areas of the district.