Chaos reigned on Ahmedabad’s streets Wednesday, after the newly appointed team of bureaucrats placed in charge of the city decided to lock it down completely for a week from Thursday, allowing only milk and medicine shops to remain open.
Additional chief secretary Rajiv Kumar Gupta, given charge of Ahmedabad city on Tuesday, held a meeting with officials of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) before he put out the lockdown order.
It read: “All those working in shops like vegetables, fruit, grocery, provisions, supermarkets, ice cream parlours and people engaged in home delivery of these items as well as Swiggy, Zomato, Dominos and others become a potent sources of infection for many. Therefore in the entire AMC area, all shops and home delivery services except milk and medicine shall remain closed for seven days starting from May 7 at 6 am”.
Ahmedabad accounts for over 70 per cent of the cases, and many fatalities, due to Covid-19 in Gujarat.
The decision was followed by an office order from in-charge municipal commissioner Mukesh Kumar under Rule 11 of the Epidemic Disease Act, for “effective implementation of social distancing and to minimize crowding to reduce the spread of infection in the city of Ahmedabad”. Ironically, as soon as the order was out, people rushed to buy vegetables, groceries and milk, causing traffic jams and long queues even at fuel stations.
As per the decision, all branches of all banks except ATMs will remain closed in the red zones (Dani Limda, Behrampura, Jamalpur, Shahpur, Maninagar, Saraspur, Asarwa, Dariapur, Khadia and Gomtipur) till further notice.
The meeting with Gupta was attended by AMC in-charge Kumar, all deputy municipal commissioners as well as health officers.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Director General of Police Shivanand Jha said that the Union government has sent five additional companies of para military forces in Ahmedabad from Wednesday, as the city braces for the complete shutdown till May 15. “To avoid further spread of infection in the containment areas of Ahmedabad city and to secure it further, the Union government has sent four companies of Border Security Force and one company of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to be deployed in Ahmedabad. Till now, 38 companies of SRP and paramilitary forces have been deployed in the city. In Surat, additional three companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed taking the count of companies to six. In Vadodara, two companies have been deployed,” said Jha.
Ahmedabad city police commissioner Ashish Bhatia said no movement will be allowed inside the micro-containment zones in the city, and no movement of vehicles will be allowed in the containment zones. There are 57 micro-containment zones in 15 police station areas of Ahmedabad declared by police so far.
Gupta has ordered a ward-wise Covid-19 containment strategy for all 48 wards, to be discussed in the meeting on Thursday. Based on the updated information of the Covid-19 situation in each ward, the road map for testing, lockdown, health infrastructure, quarantine facilities, active surveillance, etc. will be made for each ward. The strategy also includes building of capacities for isolation, treatment and quarantining in the city.
The detailed review meeting also looked at strengthening the hospital facilities in the city. For this, a decision of taking over nine private hospitals with an aggregate capacity of 1,000 beds as designated Covid-19 hospitals has been taken.
Moreover, directions have also been issued to all deputy commissioners to identify private hotels of 3-star and below category, having at least 50 AC rooms, to be established as Covid-19 care centres, taking a total capacity of 500 beds in each zone.
Also, an order has been passed to issue noticed to all private clinics, nursing homes and hospitals to resume operations within 48 hours, or they will lose their licences. “Doctors not opening their clinics to be activated and asked to take care of patients at Covid Care centres or asymptomatic patients at home. Proper mapping of such demands and availability to be immediately carried out and requisition of services of medical professionals to be done under the Epidemic Act,” the order stated.
Further, to contain the spread in slums, distribution of 2 lakh Covid-19 care kits, including four soaps, four washable masks and ayurvedic or homeopathic alternate medicine is to be provided by the AYUSH department, through 600 surveillance teams.
The elected wing of the AMC has been directed to seek active involvement of NGOs and youth institutions in various activities, with regular interaction and feedback with the ward councillors.