The coronavirus-induced lockdown in India has seen all non-essential outlets shut down, and people have been urged to stay at home. The state of Goa however seems to have taken things a step further, if the chatter on social media is anything to go by.
On Sunday Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was forced to abandon his plan for a continuous lockdown and open grocery stores under immense public pressure. To clarify, the continuous lockdown had involved keeping almost every possible outlet shut, whether they were necessary items or not.
According to an IANS report he told reporters that complaints about his governance were being made to powers "above him".
At a press conference, a belligerent Chief Minister also suggested that once grocery stores were ordered opened, the government would not take responsibility for everyone's health.
Seeming to absolve himself of all responsibilities, the Chief Minister on Sunday said that "the government will not take responsibility for everyone's health, everyone is responsible for their own".
"People wanted central government guidelines, we are following them 100 per cent. No one complain now and people should take responsibility for their own well-being," Sawant said.
Facing a lack of support from the government, the issue had been highlighted by social media users in the last day or two. In a recent tweet, actor Richa Chadda urged users of the social media platform to draw attention to the situation in Goa.
"Goa needs food supply. Please draw attention to his, tweeple," Chaddha tweeted on Sunday.
Authors Richa Kaul Padte and Mihir Sharma also highlighted the lack of food and underlined the sense of chaos in the coastal state, which has witnessed panic over lack of supply of essential goods including rice, wheat flour, and cooking oil.
"We have been on COMPLETE (surprise) lockdown all week. no groceries, no markets, no provisions. cops are patrolling the streets. people have no way to access food. it is getting bad," recounted Padte on Twitter. She added that while some markets in the city were opening sporadically when possible, this was not consistent. The villages, she added, had no access to anything.
Others echoed similar sentiments.
"I live in Porvorim. It's been 8 days we have no supplies. Milk shops are allowed to be open only for 3 hrs, not entire day. No veges, no eggs, no bread. No fem hygiene products, nothing, wrote one user.
Another Twitter user, who said that he was a volunteer at a Goa helpline wrote about how he had been fielding frantic calls from people had been waiting for days for food deliveries.
"The number of grocery stores with basic food supply is dwindling. Now only stores in urban areas have some food and delivery system. Even this is done from the store's side, NOT by the govt. In fact the state govt is impeding movement, lying about delivery passes, and blocking supply chains," he alleged.
According to reports, the Chief Minister's decision to shut down major grocery stores and super markets and instead bank on a network of politicians and their volunteers to home deliver essentials has further added to the chaos, with allegations of hoarding by ruling politicians creeping in.
"Sir Chairman NDMA, @PMOINdia. Giving control to MLAs in Goa over groceries distribution is not mitigating but leading to bigger disaster. Pl get @goacm to go by Disaster mgt Act, instead of unleashing CRPF on people," Goa Aam Aadmi Party convenor Elvis Gomes tweeted.
Both, the state Bharatiya Janata Party president Sadanand Shet Tanavade and the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant have urged calm amid the increasing chaos and said that efforts were being made to strengthen the home distribution network. On Sunday morning, the Sawant-led administration also authorized food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy to deliver food and groceries to people.
The lack of resources and the government response did not sit well with people, but Sawant is also facing dissent from among his own party's ranks over his recent decisions. The powerful Gaud Saraswat Brahmin caste leaders especially, have launched a concerted assault on his leadership.