Lockdown, social distancing go for a toss on highways

For all practical purposes, the highways are out of the lockdown.

On Wednesday, vehicles of every size and shape were being allowed to pick up people wanting to leave the city for places as far as Agra and Gorakhpur. There were no social distancing norms being enforced and nearly all highways leading out of the city were jammed with trucks, tempos, pickup vans, cars, even autos carrying people in all directions – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the north, Gujarat and Rajasthan to the west, and Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to the south.

Every seat – if you can call a bedsheet on a truck’s hard floor that – was going for a premium: Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 in trucks headed north, and Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 in those going to Gujarat or Karnataka. Of course, none of the vehicles had any permissions to carry people and there was no question of any social distancing norms being followed with up to 70 people crammed in trucks and 25 to 30 in tempos and pick-ups.

Click here for latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic

The unofficial word on the highways was that the cops are under instructions to be lenient – so, no fines, no checking of papers, and not even little bribes that are a norm. Home Minister Anil Deshmukh did say on TV that people on highways are not being stopped on humanitarian grounds, but he certainly did not say anything about nakas on the outskirts of the city turning into passenger pick-up points.

The busiest naka on Wednesday was the Kalyan-Bhiwandi bypass on the Mumbai-Agra Highway with queues of trucks. Men, women, and children carrying their meagre belongings waited by the roadside. They had all either walked all night to reach the naka or had paid auto-rickshaws and taxis double or treble fares.

a jam packed truck; an agent books ‘tickets’

The other pick-up points, though less busy, were: the Majiwada junction in Thane; the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway, Panvel; and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway, Mira-Bhayandar.

Mahaan Sharma, a carpenter from Kandivali, was traveling with 15 others to Gorakhpur in a truck. A distance of over 1700 km, they will be on the road for the next four days. The group paid the truck owner Rs 60,000, which worked out be close to Rs 4,000 per seat. They managed a small discount because they booked in bulk. “I think my kids will be safer in Gorakhpur. We have a small piece of land and my mother lives there. I will return when it is safe,” he said. Sharma said he wanted to take a train, but the process was too cumbersome and it was taking just too long. Sharma has packed biscuits and some roti and chutney for the journey. “I am also carrying some cash to buy food on the way,” he said.

Surnit Chavan, who works as liftman in Mulund, was travelling to Azamgarh in a pick-up truck. “We are a group of men and women from Azamgarh and we all work in Mulund. The pick-up truck owner is charging us Rs 3500 per head. He will drop us 200 km away from Azamgarh. But we don’t have any option,” he said.

For truck and tempo owners it is an opportunity to make some money after being without work for long periods during lockdown. Most of them had delivered medicines, vegetables, packaged food, or grains and will be carrying people home on their way back. “Returning empty is a big hit on our margins. This way, we can make some money,” said a truck driver.

Lockdown 3.0: Traffic visuals from Western Express Highway, near Goregaon


Lockdown 3.0: Traffic visuals from Western Express Highway, near Goregaon


A truck carrying 70 people at Rs 4000 per head makes Rs 2,80,000. Most owners have their expenses covered since they arrived in Mumbai carrying some or the other stuff. “The money we will make carrying people is a bonus. These are hard times,” said a truck driver. Business is so good that drivers are willing to pay owners a fixed amount for using the trucks. “Several of my drivers are asking me to give them the trucks and they will pay me a minimum Rs 2 lakh per month,” said Rajesh Shetkar of Rajesh Cargo Movers India Private Limited.

They obviously know there is a big supply and demand gap. Former corporator Abhishek Ghosalkar said slums are emptying out. “Nearly 30-35 per cent residents of Ganpat Patil Nagar slums in Dahisar have left,” he said.

11 labourers injured, 1 critical after their vehicle overturns

A tempo carrying around 30 migrant workers overturned near the Cadbury Junction in Thane last evening. Eleven people sustained injuries and have been admitted to the Kalwa Municipal Hospital. One of them is reported to be critical.

The police said that the workers had boarded the vehicle at Masjid Bunder, and were to be dropped off to Bhiwandi, from where they were scheduled to board a truck to Uttar Pradesh.

Untitled Carousel

One teen dead, another injured in Marine Drive excursion

A late afternoon excursion by five teenagers, breaking the lockdown, ended in tragedy when one of the three cars in which they were traveling crashed into a stationary bus on Marine Drive, killing one and seriously injuring another.

Mumbai in Lockdown: Photos of city landmarks – empty, deserted, unbelievable

Gateway Of India

Mumbai and Maharashtra are in complete lockdown mode as India will be staying home till mid-April to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus. The forced stay-at-home has also thrown up a side of the city that would have been unable to imagine before – empty roads, deserted train stations, tourist hubs silent and landmarks eerily quiet. Mirror photographers snap a side of the city that’s almost surreal. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

No, it’s not Europe

This isn’t an ancient city from Europe but our very own aamchi Mumbai’s Asiatic Library with the famous steps that for years have been thronged by people who want to hold pre-wedding shoots or just the most picturesque selfies for their phone displays pictures. The only giveaway is the man with a mask walking past this heritage structure. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

Local trains at CSMT Station

A train terminus that sees lakhs of users every single day paints a surreal picture as local trains stand vacant at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The platforms are now deserted as all passenger train services, both long-distance as well as suburban lines have been suspended till March 31, in an attempt to ‘flatten the curve’ and fight the coronovirus. Photo by Deepak Turbhekar/ BCCL

Fumigation at Kasturba hospital

On the frontline of the city’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic is Kasturba Hospital in Kala Chowkie. The government hospital is the nodal hospital in the city for all coronavirus cases. It was the only hospital that took in all the COVID 19 cases before private hospitals were roped in to create isolation wards and take on patients. Kasturba hospital increased the capacity of its isolation ward to over 100 to accommodate more patients as then numbers saw a steady rise. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

Not a soul on Marine Drive

Usually bustling with walkers or tourists or Mumbaikars trying to get steal some moments of privacy in this space-starved city, Marine Drive’s promenade is a favourite hangout. But the sunsets here now have no takers after the city went into lockdown. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

All too quiet by the Arabian Sea

The Marine Drive always presents some of the best views of South Mumbai. The Queen’s necklace now looks absolutely empty and vacant as Mumbaikars are encouraged to stay indoors during the 21-day lockdown. Photo by Deepak Turbhekar/ BCCL

A shower of flowers

For a city that’s always buzzing, always full or people and cars – honking for more space, one would have hardly noticed the flowering trees around. The lockdown though is presenting an opportunity to these flowering trees too to add to the beauty of an eerily silent space. Photo by Satyajit Desai/ BCCL

Waiting for things to get back to normal

Always packed with tourists and photographers waiting to snap the perfect picture either with the Gateway of India in the background or the Taj Mahal hotel, this tourist attraction has been silent for more than a week now. The only regular visitors here now are the pigeons. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

Western Express Highway

If you have ever spent hours on the road trying to get home or to office using the Weatern Express Highway, then this photo is definitely for you. A calm, peaceful, free-of-cars WEH during rush hour. Photo by Nilesh Wairkar/ BCCL

The Taj Hotel, standing tall even in the lockdown

The Taj Hotel has witnessed history over the many decades that it has been around for. From the grand welcome given to royalty, kings and princes over the years to the horrific attack of 26/11 where the hotel itself was one of the targets, the Taj Hotel is a symbol of staying resolute in the harshest of circumstances. It was forced to stay shut after the Mumbai Terror Attack but it re-opened after renovation, a hope many have today for the city and the country as the world unites in its fight against the coronavirus. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

The silent sands of Girgaum chowpatty

It offers one of the best views of the city, free of cost. The Girgaum Chowpatty, is always crowded, full of people, whether it’s a regular weekend or the Ganesh festival. It’s usually difficult to manage to click a photograph here without someone or the other getting in your way or into your frame. After the initial few days where people violated the lockdown, police have now ensured the beach is strictly out of bounds. Photo by Deepak Turbhekar/ BCCL

‘Lockdown will hit Maharashtra’s economy hard’

Jayant Patil from the NCP said that the 21-day lockdown, implemented to facilitate social distancing and stem the spread of the coronavirus, is going to create an economic crisis in the state. “It will take months for industrial units to resume production and achieve maximum capacity as small, medium and large industrial units are inter-dependent,” said Patil, a former finance minister. According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, Maharashtra has 14.90 lakh registered micro, small and medium scale industries generating employment for 78.92 lakh people. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

Bandra Worli Sealink

The Health Ministry has said that India is still in the local transmission stage, not community transmission stage. But what authorities in Mumbai are keeping a close watch on is the cases that have been reported from Worli’s Koliwada. At least four people have tested positive for COVID-19 and have no record of foreign travel. Contact tracing has begun in the area which is congested and has a high population density. The lockdown is being strictly enforced here. The BMC also carried out a disinfection drive in the area. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

Wadala Chaar Rasta

The Maharashtra government has set up 262 relief camps for migrant labourers where they will be provided food and shelter, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said. Hundreds of workers have been fleeing cities, trying to head home after the lockdown rendered them jobless overnight. With so much uncertainty around how long they would have to fend for themselves, many even hopped on to trucks, trailers, crammed themselves into the back of transport vans to get across the border. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

Turning government buildings, schools into shelters

Civic schools, a stadium and government buildings in Navi Mumbai and Thane have been turned into shelters for migrant workers following the state government’s directive. The workers started arriving at these shelters on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Sachin Haralkar/ BCCL

Masks are the new normal

Over the last few days police have, in many raids, recovered marks, sanitisers from unscrupulous people who want to make a quick buck even during the crisis. In Charkop, sanitizers worth Rs 10 lakh were seized on Monday. Unit 6 crime branch on Saturday had raided a flat in Mahim and recovered illegal stock of hand sanitizers worth over Rs 2.5 lakh. Three persons were arrested in connection with the case. Prior to that the Vile Parle police had recovered masks worth over Rs 1 crore from a godown. In another raid conducted last week, masks and other medical precautionary equipments worth about Rs 15 crore had also been seized. Photo by Deepak Turbhekar/ BCCL

Credit: Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here