Madurai

Coronavirus | Crowded markets, deserted hill station

Pedestrians, two-wheelers, autorickshaws and trucks at Nelpettai in Madurai on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: G. MOORTHY

Chaotic scenes prevailed at markets and shops across Madurai district on Sunday as people thronged them to stock up on essential commodities ahead of the two-week complete lockdown from Monday.

All shops were opened on Saturday and Sunday, resulting in crowding of the four Masi Streets and traffic congestion near Vilakkuthoon during the day.

Nitesh Kothari, a trader near Thirumalai Nayak Palace, said many residents made last-minute purchases ahead of Ramzan. Police personnel inspected shops at frequent intervals to ensure that there was no crowding.

In many parts of Madurai, anxious residents could be seen standing in long queues or milling around in stores to buy groceries and vegetables. East Masi Street saw a large number of residents indulging in panic-buying.

S.P. Jeyaparkasam, president of Food Grains Merchants Association, said people were stocking up on provisions due to unwarranted fear. “All essential commodities will be easily available to the public during the lockdown. Without understanding this, they are crowding all shops, which will only increase the spread of COVID-19 infection.”

People also crowded vegetable, fish and meat markets across the city.

While the imposition of complete lockdown from Monday would help to contain the spread of COVID-19, closure of shops would severely affect the livelihoods of traders, said Ashraf Tayub, secretary of Tamil Nadu Textile Merchants Association.

In Dindigul, too, similar scenes were witnessed during the day. Neglecting repeated calls to stay indoors and maintain physical distancing norms, shoppers in large numbers thronged markets.

People rushed to buy vegetables, milk and meat from Saturday, said activist Rajapandian of R.M. Colony.

Civic authorities, implementing staunch measures to contain the pandemic through action against defaulting vendors and shopkeepers, pointed to lack of cooperation from the public. As a result, they were helpless, said a health official, who monitored garbage clearance from 10 wards in and around Kamarajar bus stand area.

Meat and fish stalls, vegetable markets on Palani Road were filled with local residents from 7 a.m. on Sunday. “Out of every 10 persons, only four were seen wearing masks,” a traffic police personnel said.

Children were also seen in large numbers, he added.

The situation was just the opposite at a popular summer resort — Kodaikanal. With the holiday season at its peak, the hill station, which usually attracted tourists from far and near from April, wore a deserted look.

Municipal officials said only people who had houses in the hill station were being allowed inside. For this purpose, a check post had been installed at the foothills. Only after due verification, they were allowed up the hill.

At Silver Cascade, a health department team took swab tests of those reaching the hill station. However, some of the residents claimed that the officials were present only till noon or up to 3 p.m. Due to severe cold conditions, they were not seen later. As a result, they proceeded without screening.

Hotel and tourist cab operators association president Abdul Gani said the authorities had instructed not to entertain any guests. Hence, there was no reservation. The lake, which would be filled with activity during this time, remained calm. A few restaurants on Seven Road were open for short duration for food takeaways.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 2:55:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/crowded-markets-deserted-hill-station/article34521647.ece

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