North Bengal lockdown with tighter screws
The steady rise in number of Covid-19 cases led to a lockdown across some locations of three north Bengal districts from Wednesday itself, a day ahead of the stricter lockdown announced by the Bengal government for containment zones.
Malda, North Dinajpur and Alipurduar districts locked down certain localities on Wednesday.
In Malda, with 42 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday and the total number of infections nearing 1,000, the administration has clamped a lockdown on three police station areas, Englishbazar, Old Malda and Kaliachak, from Wednesday.
These three police stations cover the two civic and rural areas of Englishbazar and Old Malda, the Kaliachak-I block and parts of Kaliachak-II block, sources said.
Since Wednesday morning, policemen were seen on streets and in marketplaces, stopping two-wheelers, e-rickshaws and autos and asking shop owners to down the shutters.
“Unfortunately, we found many people out on flimsy grounds. They were sent home and from Thursday onwards, we will enforce the lockdown sternly,” said Madanmohan Roy, the inspector-in-charge of Englishbazar police station.
Though the administration and the police had made public announcements across these areas to make people aware, a number of e-rickshaws, rickshaws and autos were seen on the streets with passengers.
Policemen had to stop vehicles and ask drivers to return home after dropping off passengers. Shops selling non-essential items were found open in certain markets which the police ensured were closed.
Gradually towards midday, the lockdown came largely into force in declared areas.
Differences cropped up within the Malda Merchants Chamber of Commerce over the lockdown. Garment shop owners said that the lockdown hit them while sparing traders of essential items. “We gave a memo to the district administration and asked office bearers of the trade body to see to it that we too can open our shops even if on rotation,” said a garments trader.
Unlike Malda, there was complete lockdown in Dalkhola town of North Dinajpur and in Falakata of Alipurduar.
In Dalkhola, the civic body announced a 14-day lockdown while in Falakata the merchants’ association decided to shut shops.
“People remained at home. Only shops selling milk, medicines and LPG (gas cylinders) were open. The highway was open but there was no crowding in the town. From Thursday, we will start monitoring wards and help people by sending essential commodities at their doorsteps,” said Subhash Goswami, chairperson of the board of administrators of Dalkhola municipality.
In Falakata, shops and private establishments were shut. The arterial road connecting Alipurduar and Cooch Behar was deserted.
The district administrations of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri
announced complete lockdown in nine wards of Siliguri for “complete lockdown” from Thursday 5pm. These are wards 2, 4, 5, 28, 37, 38, 39, 43 and 46.
In Malda, where the administration has clamped lockdown in three police station areas from Wednesday, five broader containment zones have been marked. Seven such containment zones (apart from 37, 38, 39, 43 wards of Siliguri) in Jalpaiguri district and four in Alipurduar.
In South Dinajpur, the administration has announced a complete lockdown in three municipal areas of Balurghat, Buniadpur and Gangarampur and three village panchayats in Gangarampur, Kumarganj and Hilli blocks.