Physical distancing goes for a toss in Thoothukudi

Police will issue vehicle pass to those selling vegetables

All thoroughfares in Thoothukudi and its peripheries were abuzz since 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Unmindful of physical distancing, people thonged the shops. On the one hand, in a bid to cash in on the opportunity, a majority of the shopkeepers had jacked up the prices of vegetables. For instance, brinjal was sold at ₹100 a kg, tomatoes at ₹90 to ₹120, shallots at ₹80 and Bellary onions at ₹60 to ₹80. Beans was sold at ₹300 a kg and Cauliflower at ₹100 a piece.

All the vegetable markets, including the makeshift ones at the new bus stand, were packed. Though the police personnel kept announcing through public address system to prevent crowding, nobody was in a mood to listen. Health officials threatened to pull down the shutters of shops, after which there was some order which lasted for an hour or so. And again, the people thronged the shops.

Poor strength of senior officials proved to be a major disadvantage as the very few officials who were present remained mute spectators. The arterial roads, including Palayamkottai Road, WGE Road, VE Road, Jayaraj Road were busy throughout the day. Many shoppers did not wear face masks.

Meeting

Even as the markets were overflowing with shoppers, the district administration conducted a consultative meeting in the presence of two Ministers – Geetha Jeevan and Anitha Radhakrishnan, MLAs from the district and senior officials from the Corporation, police and other departments.

A press release said the officials explained the steps taken to distribute essential goods such as vegetables through vehicles across the district at the doorstep of people during the next seven days when the curfew would be intensified.

The police would issue vehicle pass to those selling vegetables. They will procure vegetables from the wholesale market.

There was no need for panic to rush to hospitals. A special control room was functioning and residents could check for availability of beds with oxygen facility. Steps were being taken to establish 500 more beds with oxygen in the Government Hospital.

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