Lockdown in state till March 31; no trains, buses for ten days; Section 144 clamped
BL Soni

Mumbai: As Covid-19 claimed its second victim in Maharashtra in four days and the number of afflicted rose to 74, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a "near-total" lockdown of the state from Sunday midnight till March 31.The announcements came close on the heels of the shutting of Indian Railways, including Mumbai's lifeline, the suburban locals, for the next 10 days; this has been reinforced by slapping prohibitory orders under Section 144, which essentially means not more than 5 people can gather on roads.

With that, the lockdown initially imposed in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Pimpri- Chinchwad will now be extended to all cities of the state.

Thackeray also said that the 14-hour voluntary 'Janata Curfew' on Sunday will be extended till 5 a.m. on Monday.However, he added that all essential services like banks, stock markets, depositories, clearing houses, power utilities, food and milk shops, communications, etcetera will continue to function normally.

Those intra city bus services will remain operational which cater to essential services. Special passes will be issued to all trucks engaged in carriage of essential commodities. The CM has assured that there is ample stock of essential goods.

Power generation and distribution will not be impacted. Banks and RBI regulated institutions will operate."Attendance in government offices has been slashed down to only 5 percent, only bare essential services and retail outlets like vegetables, groceries, milk, pharmacies and others shall be functional. I once again appeal to all to stay at home and don't step out unless absolutely essential," Thackeray said in a television statement a short while ago.For the first time in its long history, the country's commercial capital will be in a state of near-complete lockdown from midnight, barring essential services.Besides suburban train services on Central Railway, Western Railway, Mumbai Metro, MonoRail, the BEST public buses, private buses, autorickshaws, taxis, cab aggregators would be off roads till the month-end."These are trying times. I know it is being forced upon you, but we have no options. The critical period is till March 31. Thereafter, we will review and decide if it needs to be extended," Thackeray said.The total closure of suburban railways will directly affect the commuting population of more than one crore in Mumbai, Raigad, Thane and Palghar, besides the suburban sections serving Pune and surroundings.

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