COVID-19: Mumbai wears a deserted look as weekend lockdown begins
BL Soni

The weekend lockdown across on Saturday brought back memories of the lockdown that was in-place exactly a year ago. The roads, railway stations and market places wore a deserted look. The auto rickshaws, taxis, aggregator cabs and private vehicles were all parked and there were very few people on the road, who were being questioned by police at different checkpoints. The railway stations were also empty. The Central and Western Railways saw just around 8 lakh commuters -- mainly people on essential duties. The BEST operated 1279 of their own fleet, 1097 of wet-lease and 642 ST buses by Saturday evening.

The weekend lockdown imposed to bring under control the Covid-19 surge, elicited a positive response from people so far with the streets and markets wearing a deserted look.

The Mumbai Police patrolled all the checkpoints along with the traffic police, wherein each vehicle passing past the lockdown timings were stopped and checked. Bikers and motorists, who were out aimlessly were reprimanded.

There was heavy deployment of police on the beaches and promenades to ensure that citizens complied with the rules of weekend lockdown and stayed indoors. Only those who had an emergency stepped out. The unions of different auto rickshaws, taxis and aggregator cabs said that 90 per cent of them were off-roads. “A majority of our cab drivers are heading back to their villages. The permit owners who have grown old, are sitting home,” said A L Quadros, senior taxi union leader. The south and central Mumbai portrayed an eerie look with deserted roads and footpaths.

COVID-19: Mumbai wears a deserted look as weekend lockdown begins
Shashank Parade

The number of vehicles on the streets was very low. “The volume of traffic was less. If any motorists were found travelling without a valid reason, we asked them to go back or booked them,” said Yashasvi Yadav, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

The eastern and western suburbs wore a deserted look too. “There weren’t any passengers due to the lockdown. Also, the police are booking people who are out on the road. So more than 90 percent of auto rickshaws were off roads,” said Thampy Kurien, auto rickshaw union leader.

While the city largely wore a deserted look, there were some pockets, such as Dadar vegetable market, where people were seen stepping out and flouting social distancing and other norms by gathering at one place in numbers. The first weekend lockdown in the state began at 8 pm on Friday and it will continue till 7 am on Monday. This is part of the 'Break the Chain' Covid-19 action plan. The weekend lockdown and other curbs will continue till April 30. At many places in the city, people also made a beeline outside liquor shops. Mumbai police have deployed personnel to ensure that people adhere to the rules.

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