Monday, 30th October 2017

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Lockdown violated, aid reaches the needy

Philanthropists and residents are doing their bit to provide cooked food and rations to those in need

By Mohsin Khaiyam, Rokibuz Zaman and Ali Fauz Hassan in Guwahati
  • Published 2.04.20, 2:57 AM
  • Updated 2.04.20, 2:57 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Volunteers of Khalsa Centre Northeast serve khichdi to needy people in Guwahati. Telegraph picture

Residents continued to flout lockdown norms in the city on Wednesday, on a day 12 more persons in the state tested positive for Covid-19, raising the number of those affected to 13.

The 21-day lockdown has affected daily wage-earners, rickshaw-pullers, beggars and other people who subsist on daily earnings. With their means of earning stalled, they are turning to the government and charitable organisations for help.

Charitable organisations, the Kamrup (metro) district administration, philanthropists and residents are doing their bit to provide cooked food and rations to those in need in the city.

Organisations like Khalsa Centre Northeast are feeding up to 3,000 people daily from Azara (near the airport) in the west to Narengi in the east. The organisation, with nearly 20 members engaged throughout the day, has been concentrating on slums along the railway tracks.

“We swung into action from the second day of the lockdown. We cooked khichdi and carried it to the railway yard in Azara, where hundreds of labourers ate. We then set up langars at the railway gates, near which hundreds live in slums. The lockdown has stopped their chance to get daily earning. However, the primary challenge for us is to ensure social distancing and hygiene. We mark out circles and don’t start serving till the people are in those spots. Police and the Kamrup (metro) district administration are helping us with the logistics, while individuals are providing monetary help,” P.P. Singh of the centre told The Telegraph.

Singh said the khichdi, containing seven different vegetables and three types of dal, is served hot.

The social service wing of Don Bosco Society, Guwahati province, known as Bosco Reach Out, will provide food and relief materials to 3,500 daily wagers and migrant families in Assam and Meghalaya. Bosco Reach Out is currently distributing a kit consisting of rice, pulses, oil, soya nuggets, soap, hand sanitiser and masks. Till now, the organisation has provided relief to 263 families in urban slums at Bhootnath and Manipuri Basti, a statement said.

Traders and residents of Lakhtokia are feeding around 500 needy people for the past five days.

The district administration and organisations like Marwari Yuva Manch, New Mission India, CIC, Feeding India and others are providing rice, dal, oil and other essential items to needy families in different parts of the city.

Lockdown violation

In the city, vendors were selling vegetables in areas like Down Town, Six Mile and Ganeshguri despite strict orders from the administration to people not step out of home. Some vendors were also allegedly selling fish in Down Town’s Mathura Nagar.

Erashre Talukdar, a resident of Gandhi Basti, said she bought brinjal at Rs 60 per kg, tomato Rs 80 per kg, potato for Rs 30 per kg and chilly Rs 80-90 per kg.

Abira Barman, a resident of Maligaon, said almost every vegetable was sold at over Rs 40 per kilo. “Vegetables are available in our locality. Vendors are selling within a specified time, but the police had to use force to disperse people when the crowd swelled,” she said.

A grocery retailer said supply of essential items, including vegetables, was stable but the problem was reaching wholesalers or the source of supply because of police action. “Crackdown is necessary to keep people indoors, but efforts should be made to see those with genuine reasons should not be harassed or beaten up. I did not step out after I saw security personnel cracking down on people on the streets in my locality. I didn’t want to be caught between violators and policemen,” said a grocery shop owner in Lachit Nagar.

On Wednesday, policemen checked vehicles and allowed only those on essential services duty to ply.

Some tea stalls and paan shops were also allegedly selling vegetables during the lockdown. In some urban areas, vegetable vans came to the doorsteps of consumers, while most pockets remained unserviced, making people venture out in search of essential items.

After the detection of the first Covid-19 case on Tuesday evening, the state government rolled back its Monday evening’s decision to relax the lockdown. The government has been repeatedly appealing to the people to adhere strictly to the regulations stating it was the only way to break the chain of infection.

A supply department official said largescale sale of vegetables was not permitted. “Sale of vegetables in grocery shops has been allowed. But vendors cannot sell vegetables on the footpaths,” he said.