COVID-19: Urban TN gets deserted, authorities focus on clean up work

(Eds: Adds details) Chennai, Apr 26 (PTI) The complete lockdown in the major urban centres of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai and Coimbatore, came into force on Sunday with groceries and vegetable shops also shutting down as civic bodies intensified disinfection work in their respective regions.

While police patrol vehicles and flying squads of civic bodies alone could be seen in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem and Tirupur, people in some localities loitered around and police warned them to stay indoors.

Some special buses were operated to cater to the requirements of government employees linked to essential services.

Men employed with food delivery aggregators rushing on their motorcycles to deliver eatables could also be seen in most areas.

Chennai police said today alone 826 cases have been filed for violating lockdown norms and 543 two-wheelers, 35 light motor vehicles -including cars- and 24 autorickshaws have been seized.

State police said a total of 2,76,183 vehicles have been seized so far and a fine of Rs 3.27 crore levied.

A five-member Inter-Ministerial Central Team, led by top official V Tirupugazh reviewed the initiatives at Diasaster Management Data Analytics Centre here over preventing the spread of coronavirus and the panel also inspected the Koyambedu market and an Amma Canteen on Kamarajar Salai.

DMK president M K Stalin hit out at the AIADMK government, alleging it announced the four-day shutdown without any preparations and all of a sudden pushing people into a state of confusion which led to panic buying of essentials on Saturday.

The top Dravidian party leader asked the government to act with 'forethought' and act 'expeditiously.' PMK chief S Ramadoss, pointing to 100 plus children getting infected out of the 1,885 positive cases said it was due to the negligence of family members as the little ones did no wrong.

Infection among children was a cause of concern, he said and appealed to people to stay indoors considering the welfare of innocent children and other family members.

Regions close to Chennai and falling under Chengelpet, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur districts, besides districts including Cuddalore, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam were also fully shut today.

Though mild showers here broughtwelcome relief to people during summer, there was no respite for health workers of Greater Chennai Corporation, who continued their work of visiting every household to check if people had symptoms, including fever associated with flu.

Districts, including Chengelpet, also witnessed rains.

Disinfection work was carried out in all shutdown cities, with special focus on containment zones, authorities said.

Milk supply was not affected as government run 'Aavin' (Tamil Nadu Co-operative Milk Producers'Federation) delivered it to consumers at their doorsteps as usual.

The Koyambedu vegetable market here, which alone was allowed to open, witnessed comparatively fewer footfalls as the public were not permitted to venture out and several retailers runningneighbourhood outlets avoided purchase from there as theycould not open their shops.

Traders said some hawkers and pushcart vendors were among the few people who visited the market to buy vegetables and arrival of fresh stocks too was limited.

While several shops within the market were either shut or opened for purposes like cleaning, a section of outlets that opened for usual trade closed by noon.

President of the Koyambedu Market Anna Anaithu Vyabarigal Podhu Nala Sangam (general traders welfare association) 'Pazhakadiai' Jayaraman told P T I: 'The market is deserted since people did not venture out of their homes.

Many like me who opened shops in the morning closed down our outlets at noon since there were not many buyers.' People had on Saturday resorted to panic buying of essentials in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirupur and Salem.

Koyambedu, the name of both the locality here and the market, is one of the biggest in South India, that vends vegetables, fruits and flowers, catering to the general public, wholesalers and retailers as well.

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Tamil Nadu, Palaniswami had on April 24 announced a complete shutdown beginning Sunday in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai for four days, disallowing grocery shops as well and fully curtailing movement of the public.

Also, Salem and Tirupur in western Tamil Nadu shall be shut similarly, albeit for three days from April 26, he said while assuring the people that mobile outlets would bring vegetables and fruits would to their doorsteps.

Chennai Corporation had made it clear that barring Koyambedu, no shops would be allowed to function even for selling vegetables and fruits and that only push carts and mobile vehicles would be permitted to do so.PTI VGNSS PTI PTI