CHANDIGARH, 28 March 2020,Today, Sh V P Singh Badnore, Governor of Punjab and Administrator, UT Chandigarh held a press conference and interacted with the Journalists. He talked about the various steps that have been taken by the Chandigarh Administration to prevent the spread of COVID19 in Chandigarh.
He also talked about the reasons behind the yesterdays decision of the Chandigarh Administration to give certain relaxations in curfew.
He stated that after the appeal of the Ho’ble Prime Minister for lockdown, the majority of States/ UTs in the country had gone for the lockdown option during which the Establishments for essential items have kept open. Only in Chandigarh and State of Punjab a decision was taken to impose total curfew which also resulted in the closure of all establishments including that of Essential Items (including shops/ Kiryana stores/ Vegetable shops etc).
After the imposition of curfew, Administration had put in massive efforts to ensure that the backend supply chain and forward linkages of essential items including milk, vegetables, LPG gas, etc is maintained. The entire Administrative machinery was mobilized, however, the success achieved was limited.
Large number of complaints were received about the non-availability of essential items, their quality, high prices, short duration of stay of mobile vendors etc. There were also complaints from periphery areas and villages about the people going without food due to absence of rations and medicines. Moreover, only few medical shops agreed to deliver medicines at doorstep and that too of limited medicine brands/ companies.
There were also complaints that when in Haryana and other parts of the country the supply of essential goods and services is being maintained than why the same facility could not be provided to residents of Chandigarh.
The Administrator consulted the senior officials of the Administraiton including medical experts who stated that if the same social distancing is being observed by people near the CTU buses, then the same can be ensured at the shops in the respective area markets. If was felt that it would be easier to ensure and regulate social distancing in 3 or 4 shops that will be opened in respective sector market areas which are more spread out.
The DGP also stated that no where in the country any curfew could be sustained for more than 3 days without giving relaxations. If such relaxations are not given, then it might result in law and order issues.
It was also felt that with opening establishments of essential commodities, as per the order of Government of India, not only the backend supply chains of the essential commodities will be maintained, moreover, it would also lead to better price discovery.
The Administrator mentioned that he initially considered about giving relaxation for limited period, but it was felt that such a process will lead to panic hoarding by consumers and objective of social distancing will be defeated.
Moreover, he informed that Home Ministry, Government of India has given clear directions to all States/ UTs to keep Essential establishments open and hence Chandigarh was only following the pattern as per the rest of the country.
He also informed that he has set up a Corona War Room in his office in UT Secretariat, from where he will monitor the situation every day through feedback from senior officers. He stated that through regular coordination and video conferencing with Panchkula and Mohali District authorities, many of the tricity problems including inter city movement has been solved. He informed that sector-wise team of officers have been made to monitor the activities in the field and report to him in the War Room.
He also directed Director, Health Services to form mobile team of doctors that will find residents with symptoms of COVID19.. Such persons, if found will be shifted to hospital and treated. He also appealed to the Media, Resident Welfare Association’s and Residents to give feedback and report about the people who have returned from abroad and have not informed the authorities or those who are not intimating about their illness if any.
The Administrator also stated that langar and mass-feeding of people by the charitable trusts will be allowed. However, social distancing will be enforced. He also directed AA to ensure door delivery of essential items to senior citizens, who could not go to market for direct purchases. He directed Commissioner, MC to tie up with fast food companies, who deliver food at doorsteps to mobile vehicles.
The Administrator stated that the counselors and the RWAs will be involved in helping the people to prevent corona infection. He sought the support of all concerned for ensuring that the corona infection is restricted to minimum.
He also stated that today he had a discussion with PGIMER doctors regarding the steps taken by the Administration. Director, PGIMER who was present during the press conference also confirmed that with proper social distancing, corona infection will be restricted, even if, the essential establishments remain open as per Government of India Guidelines.
Further decision regarding opening or closing of essential items will be taken in due course depending upon the crowd behavior and compliance of social distancing by the residents.
It is further clarified that in order to provide relief to the people and in order to ensure continous supply of essential goods and services during the curfew period exemption that has been allowed includes, wherein only one person from every house has been allowed to step out of their house on foot between 10:00 AM to 06:00 PM daily till further order, to visit their nearsest shops or supermarktets selling grocery/ kiryana, fruits & vegetables, eggs, meat & fis, milk, chemist etc which will remain open for direct sale. Home delivery by all shops is encouraged.
Secondly, exemption has been given to ensure unhindered supply chain of essential goods and services, wherein all vehicles carrying/ engaged in transportation or delivery of food items such as milk, fruits & vegetables, grcery, eggs, meat and fish, animal fodder, poultry, piggery feed, medical equipments, medicine supplier, ATM cash vans, LPG and oil containers/ tankers, have been allowed to move freely.
It has been made mandatory that the organization/ employers providing different services as also the citizens who move out shall ensure necessary precautions against COVID19. However, the children and senior citizens have been advised not to leave their houses.