Lucknow: Residents of Uttar Pradesh woke up to empty roads and deserted public places as the three-day lockdown in the state entered the second day on Tuesday. The lockdown that began at 6 p.m on Sunday, March 22, in 18 districts, including Lucknow and Varanasi, will continue till March 25. However, on Tuesday, chief minister Adityanath announced lockdown in the entire state till March 27.
In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh police were seen patrolling while private vehicles stayed off the roads. All business establishments, even those dealing with essential commodities, were completely shut down.
Major railway stations, malls, bus terminals and airports were deserted. Only a few police vehicles, hospitals and those associated with emergency services were seen on the roads. The cops were seen dealing strictly with people on the roads, asking people through public address system to stay indoors.
There were also reports of newspapers not being delivered in most parts of the state.
Most posh colonies and apartments in the state capital were locked while civic workers were seen sanitising parks and bus stands.
Meanwhile, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against 50 named and around 150 "unnamed" people in Meerut while reports coming from neighbouring districts of Muzaffarnagar, Agra and Saharanpur alleged that police had beaten up some locals who went to the market to buy essential commodities.
Vegetable Prices Skyrocket in Major Markets
The effect of the lockdown across Uttar Pradesh in the past three days is clearly reflecting on vegetable prices in Lucknow.
Bigger queues and dwindling stocks, this was the scene, along with panic in Lucknow's largest government-run Dubagga mandi in the city on Tuesday, following the declaration of the lockdown. Retail vegetable sellers raised their prices by at least 30%. Despite chief minister Adityanath announcing that essentials such as vegetables, milk, medicines and groceries will remain available during the lockdown, people flocked to bazaars, mandis to stock up on vegetables.
Image Courtesy: Asad Rizvi
The jump in prices has been anywhere between 30% and 100% in the wholesale market.
Potato, which ideally sells between Rs 15 and 17 per kilogram at the mandi, is commanding a price of Rs 35 per kg after the 'Janata Curfew' created fear of lockdown and then the CM announcing a three-day lockdown that prevented trucks from getting fresh stocks from the national capital to the city.
Tomato, which usually sells for Rs 350 per crate (23 kilograms), touched a never-before price of Rs 600 per crate in the past week, said sources.
Speaking to NewsClick, Babu Atiq, president of Dubagga Mandi Association, said the largest vegetable market of the city was on the verge of collapse as trucks loaded with vegetables from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala were stranded amid the lockdown. "When the Dubagga Mandi is completely empty, you can imagine the horrible situation in the entire state," he added.
When asked about the variation vegetable prices, Atiq said: "When the mandi is turned into a ghost place, it doesn't make sense to talk about prices. Whatever we had in the mandi, people bought in bulk due to the three-day lockdown. Daily wagers are suffering most as they don't have goods or customers. "
He said most of the suppliers are from Bihar and Eastern and Western Uttar Pradesh and due to the lockdown there is fear that they would lose their business.
Srijan Yogi Adiyog, a social activist and member of Insani Birdari, which who works with homeless people based in Gomti Nagar, told NewsClick, "Lucknow is a developing city where a large number of workers come from Bihar and other parts of Uttar Pradesh for livelihood, but this government did not announce any scheme for them. About 10-12% people are homeless and sleep on the street side or choose to sleep on their thela rickshaws. Now they neither have any place to sleep nor any food to eat. We don’t even know where they are now. Each day's delay will create more trouble for the labour class. Reports came during the first day of lockdown that when they stepped out for essential commodities, police beat them black and blue. Where will they go, they are being forced to die due to starvation."
Foodgrains, groceries, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, bread, milk, medical services, home delivery, petrol pumps, pharmacies, the IT sector and banks and ATMs, among others, have been exempted from the purview of the lockdown.
Migrant Workers’ Exodus
The coronavirus crisis has led to mass exodus of migrant labour, daily back to their villages, mainly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
From those working in restaurants and pulling rickshaw to those making a living by ironing clothes in the neighbourhood, daily wagers are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Highlighting the issue of migrant workers, Sanjay Singh, project coordinator of Vigaan Foundation, which works with daily wagers and in slum areas, said nearly 90% of migrant workers left Lucknow the day the Chief Minister announced a 'Janata Curfew'. The few workers left are struggling."
Taking a jibe at Adityanath’s move to compensate the registered daily wagers in the state, he said that was only for registered labour working in the construction field. “There are lakhs of unregistered workers who work in other states. Some provision should have also been made for them.”
The UP government has announced a relief package for 1.65 crore families of daily wagers (categorised who will be provided with one month of ration and Rs 1,000 per month.
Slums Can't Afford Food, Sanitisers
Sanjay Singh said that he along with his team was continuously in touch with people from slums. They were living hand to mouth, but the lockdown has completely paralysed them, he added.
"They hardly earn Rs 100-250 a day, but due to lockdown, they have no work. The government is also not providing grains to them. No milk for children. Whatever, we can, we are doing. Government claims to deliver basic commodities lie punctured," he added.
Another social activist, Sudhakar Bhargava, told Newsclick: "I have given a few basic commodities, like milk, vegetables, wheat, soaps but how long can they (slum dwellers) survive with such small stuff. They are in a very bad state, they cannot afford sanitisers."
The districts where the lockdown has been enforced in the first phase are Lucknow, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Moradabad, Agra, Prayagraj, Aligarh, Bareilly, Varanasi, Meerut , Azamgarh , Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, and Lakhimpur Kheri. Plibhit was added to this list as the 17th district on Monday evening, after a 45-year-old woman, who returned from Saudi Arabia after attending Umra, tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus.
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