Mumbai: While Mumbaikars embraced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a Janata Curfew a day earlier, on Sunday – with a lockdown in force and local train services suspended – there was cause for concern as many people began stepping out of their homes in neighbourhoods across the city to stock up on groceries and other essentials.
Despite repeated warnings from the state government to avoid non-essential travel and to take the coronavirus threat seriously, there were massive traffic jams at the entry points to the city, particularly at the Thane-Mulund toll naka.
As images of the bumper-to-bumper traffic at Mulund toll naka began circulating on social media, several Mumbaikars posted messages online urging people to be more responsible. State housing minister and senior NCP leader Jitendra Awhad posted images on Twitter of the hundreds of private vehicles in queue on Monday morning.
Tagging Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Awhad tweeted, ‘‘Your work is appreciated, but many people are not serious. Many do not understand how serious the problem is. It doesn’t seem like a lockdown will be enough; impose a curfew.” Despite section 144 of the CrPC being in force, many people were seen out on the street across Mumbai, most of them heading to local groceries stores and vegetable venders to stock up on essentials.
"We knew there will be a lockdown but didn't imagine it would be this soon. Hence, it's important to stock things up, as we need to store adequate quantities of food," said Jitesh Desai, a man who was out shopping at Link Road, Malad (West). "The sudden lockdown is only creating panic.
The state should have given a window of two days," said Diksha Jain, a resident of Kandivali, who had also ventured out to buy groceries. Queues were seen outside departmental stores, and all sections – from edibles and groceries to utensils and stationery – of the store appeared crammed with customers.
In many areas, grocery stores had shut their grills to keep out large crowds, and people were seen buying groceries by shouting out their orders to the shopkeepers inside.
"Since morning there has been an influx of customers. People are mostly buying stuff out of panic following the lockdown," said a staffer at D-Mart in Malad (West), who did not wish to be named. "We procured our stock on Saturday, but it seems, from the way people are on a buying spree, the stock won't last for more than two days," he added. "
Many products are already out of stock. There is a lockdown outside, owing to which freight services are charging double the usual rate. Labour is also not available, due to which there will be a problem of replenishing the stocks," said a staffer at the grocery section of a Big Bazaar outlet at Malad (West).
A grocer at V P Road, Andheri (West), had lesser supplies of vegetables than usual at his store, as fresh stock had not arrived. “Vegetables usually arrive from Vashi market in Dadar. CON