Councillors mark slots at the markets for social distancing, Salt Lake Mayor calls it over-reaction

Covid-19: As India goes under lockdown for 21 days, people in kolkata have to go out to get ration, government want social distancing for them, but is it easy?

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Kolkata: Despite repeated pleas by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, people still throng streets and markets in large numbers, throwing Corona caution to the winds.

CM Banerjee had recently asked people to maintain distance between each other at markets. “Don’t crowd around the shops. Stand in a way so that you don’t breathe down the other person’s neck. And don’t touch another person,” Banerjee had appealed.

Taking a cue from the CM, councillor from Bidhannagar’s Ward 39, Rajesh Chirimar, who is also a member of the Mayor-in-Council of the Municipal Corporation, has demarcated circles one metre apart in CA Market and is urging people to stand in queue within those designated spaces.

“I have done those markings for the benefit of the people. I have marked such spaces in front of the Mother Dairy booth and other shops in the market area. We have also given sanitisers to all the shops outside the market complex.

social distancing coronavirus covid-19 kolkata
Customers standing at marked slot for social distancing in Salt Lake, Kolkata

“I was at the spot early in the morning at six, before people came out of their homes. We will take similar exercise at all the individual chemist shops in my area soon so that the distance is maintained. And I can say that first time someone has taken such an initiative,” said councillor Chirimar.

“It is a very good initiative as people are still confused how to behave at a public place. This move will allow them to understand how much distance one should maintain while standing in a queue. We have to stop this virus from spreading at any cost,” said I K Majumder, a BB block resident, who does his shopping from CA Market.

Nilanjan Basu, Bidhannagar Town Congress secretary and resident of CB block, who also does his daily shopping from the CA Market, also noticed the change on Wednesday morning. “It is a welcome move. But, alas many still have not realised how grave the situation is and are not following the decorum. There is a general propensity to break the queue.

“While most of the people could be seen standing within the marked spaces, a few chose to disobey. I also saw two people standing within a single circle, even though the shopkeepers are appealing from time to time to maintain safe distance from one another.”

Entrepreneur and BH block resident, S Dutta (name changed) was at a loss to see people crowding at BJ Market in Salt Lake. “Though shoppers stood in a queue, there was hardly any distance between two people. I was really disappointed that people can be so callous, when there have been so many fatalities. I chose to do my shopping from a standalone shop in the same block, where there were not many people around.”

social distancing coronavirus covid-19 kolkata
A sanitization worker of Bidhannagar Corporation at work in Salt Lake, Kolkata

“I also heard that, post PM Modi’s address to the nation on Tuesday, many had rushed to buy their essentials at BJ market and jostled with each other to get their items. Even at my block there is a standalone grocery shop, where people were falling over each other. Everyone is in a hurry,” said Dutta.

On Wednesday evening, a Bidhannagar (North) PS official was at the receiving end of public ire, when he tried to stop a woman from going out during lockdown. Sources said the offending woman almost bit the officer during a tussle, which ensued after she was stopped by the cops.

However, Ward 29 councillor and Salt Lake mayor Krishna Chakraborty was against over-reaction and said people are responsible and there is no need to demarcate spaces at one-metre distance outside the markets.

Chakraborty said, “People of Salt Lake are aware and responsible. Yes, some blocks have marked spaces but that is their own initiative. Government has not given any such directive. It is a good initiative. I have ensured proper sanitization and spread of bleaching powder. We are making public aware through our public address system, waste disposal persons have been given gloves and appropriate clothes to maintain hygiene. We are also spraying chemicals for disinfection.”

“If people are not themselves aware, marking spaces will also not serve any purpose. It is not possible to mark distances in such small markets,” added the Salt Lake mayor.

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