Coronavirus outbreak: Uncertainty on ground as India goes into complete lockdown

Updated: Mar 25, 2020, 08:18 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Faizan Khan, Shirish Vaktania, Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

India in complete lockdown: PM doesn't clarify essential services, Uddhav promises supplies lines are open. But...

Shoppers outside Sahakari Bhandar in Prabhadevi on Tuesday. Pic/Ashish Raje
Shoppers outside Sahakari Bhandar in Prabhadevi on Tuesday. Pic/Ashish Raje

Minutes after PM Narendra Modi finished addressing the nation and imposed a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus, people from across the city rushed to grocery stores to stock up on essentials. With not much stock left in shops due to lack of clarity on supply of essential goods, many returned empty handed. The state government on Tuesday decided to distribute authenticated stickers for vehicles ferrying essential commodities.

Requesting anonymity, owner of a grocery store in Virar said, "My shop was closed for the whole day but after the PM announced a complete shutdown, local buyers requested me to open the store, and I did so."

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

Speaking to mid-day, Virar West resident, Raghunath Sankhe said, "There are four members in my family. I don't know what to do now as the PM has announced a complete lockdown. I waited in queue at the local grocery store for 20 minutes but it ran out of stock. Only Maggi was available. Don't know where to go now as all the bigger grocery shops in Virar are closed."

"I have stocked grocery items at my home but after the PM's announcement I thought of getting more but all the grocery shops here are running out of stock. There are four members in my family," said Virar resident, Raees Shaikh. "There is already acute shortage of milk and vegetables in the market and now due to the panic buying all items at Virar stores are going out of stock," added Shaikh, who returned home empty handed.

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray

His friend Kabir Khan, who runs a fabrication business in Mumbai, said, "The sudden extension of the lockdown has led to panic among people. I too had come to purchase essentials but the shop has no stock."

Jay Shree from Kirana Store in Panvel said, "People are now rushing to shops to stock up for 21 days. We have very less stock as the state is under a complete lockdown since the past two days. Still the situation is under control as we are getting supplies from the dealers but we may face a serious crisis in the upcoming days."

Panic buyers queue outside half-opened grocery shops at 9 pm in Virar
Panic buyers queue outside half-opened grocery shops at 9 pm in Virar

Panvel resident, Mehmood Khan said, "We have enough stock at home because we know essential services are on. But as people are rushing to stores to stock up on food and other items, we might face a crisis in the coming days."

Another resident, Priyanka Gaikwad, said, "I live alone with my kids, so I need to have enough food at home for the next 21 days. There was a huge queue outside the local grocery store, so don't know whether I'll get the essentials. Also, cops are forcing people to shut shop to prevent gatherings. We need food to survive."

"Due to the lockdown, people have lined up outside my shop but I don't have enough stock to meet everyone's demand," said Ramesh Chheda, owner of Janata Stores in Lalbagh. "I am selling whatever is available in my shop. I am not being able to supply 21 days' stock to everyone," Chedha added.

Jayanti Shah, owner of Velji Gover Shah of Lower Parel, told mid-day, "The shop does not have as much grocery items as the customers are asking for."

"Abou 400 litres of milk are supplied everyday but even that is falling short. The customers are leaving without milk," said Sabhanath Morya, owner of Krishna Dairy Farm, Lower Parel.

Manoj Mishra, resident of M G Road at Kandivali West, said, "There is a shortage of biscuits and packaged food. I have stored dal, rice and some other items for a month. Hope the situation is under control soon."

"There is acute shortage of milk, bread and butter. I only got one packet of milk after standing in queue for an hour at Dongri market," said Niranjan Gohil, resident of Walpakhadi area in Dongri.

Another resident, Sanjay V Shah said, "Some medicines were not available at medicine shops near my residence. I have been looking for the medicines for the past hour."
Ashvin Chavan, resident of Govardhan Das chawl at M G Road in Kandivali West said, "Prices of vegetables have almost doubled. Vendors are looting innocent people. It's an emergency situation and people have to store food. I purchased potatoes for R60. In the evening the rate was normal but now it is double."

"As soon as the PM's address ended, I rushed to the local grocery store. There is no clarity on whether stores supplying essential goods will remain open," said Ajay Patil from Vashi. "I waited for an hour to get into the local grocery store. People were buying like there is no tomorrow. I managed to get only 25 per cent of the things I needed. However, I did not get milk for my child," said Pravin Koli from Sanpada.

Stickers for vehicles

The state government on Tuesday decided to distribute authenticated stickers for vehicles ferrying essential commodities and people to clear confusion about operating transport vehicles. A meeting about this was held between transport minister Anil Parab and transporter associations. As per decisions taken, the stickers would be available at the nearest RTO offices and issued after due verification.

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