Curfew imposed in the city in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak will be relaxed for eight hours — 10 am to 6 pm — from Saturday.
The UT administration decided on Friday night to allow one person from every house to walk to a market close by during relaxation to buy essential food items and medicines.
Grocery, chemist, vegetable and meat shops will be open.
The decision will come as a great relief to residents who have, ever since the clampdown was imposed on March 24, been struggling with long queues, uncertainty over supplies and hiked prices of essential items as the administration couldn’t deliver on its promise of bringing essential supplies at their doorsteps.
“In the wake of the hardships being faced by city residents, UT administrator VPS Badnore has decided to allow for relaxations in curfew. Like in other states, shops of essential items like food, medicine and gas will remain open,” said UT adviser Manoj Kumar Parida.
VEHICLES TO BE SEIZED
Vehicles of people driving to the markets will be seized. “Movement of people without curfew passes will be allowed only to shops close by. Strict action will be taken as per law against people found roaming round needlessly,” said Parida.
Requesting the elderly not to leave their homes, Parida said door-to-door services, including CTU buses with vegetables, will continue to run.
Home deliveries will continue in areas where there are no markets and cooked food for the poor will be provided by the administration.
Nixing the idea of fixing prices, the administration decided for the time being to only focus on checking hoarding and profiteering.
ONLY FOR PURCHASING ESSENTIAL ITEMS
Clarifying that the curfew had still not been lifted, UT officials clarified that relaxations had been allowed to enable people procure essential items from their local markets.
To ensure unhindered supply chain of essential goods and services, all vehicles carrying and engaged in transportation of food items, medicines, ATM cash vans LPG and oil tankers will be allowed to move freely.
Executive magistrates and special executive magistrates will be deployed to work as incident commanders in their respective local jurisdiction and be responsible to implement all the containment measures.
For avoiding congestion in markets, vehicles will not be permitted.
Fruit and vegetable vendors will also get earmarked spaces in these markets.
MC employees have also marked spaces in markets, one metre apart, for buyers to stand as they wait for their turn outside a shop.
ANOTHER DAY OF HARDSHIPS
Except for the supply of milk, delivery of vegetables, grocery and medicines remained problematic.
CTU buses carrying vegetables and fruits reached most sectors, but the administration could not communicate the schedule and location of the buses to people.
Akhil Kochhar, a resident of Sector 44, said, “We didn’t get to know about the arrival of the bus. There was no public announcement. Residents in interior sector areas did not get to know about the buses. Many people found everything had finished by the time they managed to get to the vehicles or had to wait for hours in queues.”
There were also allegations of profiteering and heavy overpricing by some vendors in the buses. Nitish Khullar, a resident of Sector 43, said, “I stood in a long line outside the bus for more than two hours, and when my turn came I was shocked to hear the vendor charging three times the normal price.”
People also had a hard time connecting to grocers and chemists listed by the administration. Those who did respond, however, asked callers to come to the shops.
Long queues were also seen outside few medical stores and grocery shops which were open in various sectors.
“Not many people followed social distancing rules and crowded buses and shops,” said Rajat Malhotra, general secretary, Chandigarh Resident Associations Welfare Federation (CRAWFED)