GUWAHATI: Alarmed by the spurt in the number of Covid-19 cases in Guwahati, the Assam government has enforced a 14-day “total lockdown” in the city since Sunday midnight.
All government and private offices, commercial establishments, shops, industrial establishments, places of worship etc remained closed on Monday. Only pharmacies and hospitals were allowed to operate.
The roads wore a deserted look as the authorities banned the movement of all modes of vehicles except ambulances and those belonging to security personnel and journalists.
The government said the situation would be reviewed after seven days and a decision would be made on whether or not to allow the shops and outlets, dealing in essential services, to reopen.
The police said they would use drones to keep an eye on activities in areas where a lot of cases were reported. They warned of actions against the lockdown violators.
“We will be very tough this time around. The lockdown violators will face legal action under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Indian Penal Code,” Guwahati Police Commissioner Munna Prasad Gupta warned.
However, Congress stalwart and three-time former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was critical of the government’s step.
“The state government is covering up its failures in tackling the pandemic by imposing the lockdown. This will only compound the miseries of the poor who have been already very badly affected,” Gogoi said.
There was a mad rush of people on Sunday to buy essential commodities including vegetables. Taking advantage of the situation, the traders hiked the prices manifold. Potato was sold at Rs 50-100 a kg. Usually, it is Rs 25 a kg. Similarly, the prices of other vegetables rose from Rs 40-60 to Rs 80-200 a kg.
According to the last official figures available, Assam recorded 7,492 cases including 11 deaths. Guwahati recorded 195 cases over the past 24 hours. Currently, there are 2,390 active cases in the state.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Meghalaya decided to enforce lockdown in areas bordering Guwahati.
“Government has decided that the locations in Meghalaya bordering Guwahati i.e Byrnihat, Jorabat till Khanapara will be under #lockdown due to the surge in #Covid_19 cases in #Assam. Inter-state movement continues to be restricted. DC will issue necessary orders accordingly,” Chief Minister Conrad Sangma tweeted.
In Manipur, the lockdown will be extended by 15 days from July 1.