Hyderabad bounces back to life with near-normal traffic
Hyderabad, May 19 (IANS) After nearly two months, the city sprang to life on Tuesday with the usual hustle bustle, following relaxation in the lockdown norms.
With the opening of government, private offices and shops, and return of taxis and auto-rickshaws on the road, the traffic volume reached near pre-lockdown level in the city's core areas.
The police removed barricades, which were in place for 58 days, facilitating smooth flow of traffic. The barricades, however, continued in containment zones where no activity is permitted.
With the bus service, Hyderabad Metro and Multi-Modal Transit System (MMTS) trains remaining suspended, the people used private vehicles, auto-rickshaws or cabs to reach their workplaces.
While about 40 per cent of vehicles were plying for the last 10 days after certain relaxations, Tuesday saw the traffic volume reaching 90 per cent.
The traffic police personnel were out in full strength at major intersections and traffic signals were restored. But they were only enforcing normal traffic norms.
“We are ensuring that there are not more than three persons, including the driver, in an auto-rickshaw and not more than four, including the driver, in a cab,” a traffic police official said.
Heavy vehicular traffic was seen in Punjagutta, Ameerpet, Kukatpally, Khairatabad, Begumpet, Secunderabad, Tank Bund, Basheerbagh, Koti, Abids and Nampally areas.
“For the first time, there was no fear of the police stopping at some point and seizing the vehicle,” said P. Shankar, a student, riding a motorbike.
The police seized thousands of vehicles during the lockdown. The bikes found beyond 3 km from the registered address were also seized.
As the face mask has been made compulsory and the violators warned of Rs 1,000 fine, most motorists and pedestrians were seen with masks.
As per the decision of the state cabinet on Monday to relax the lockdown norms, all government and private offices were allowed to function with 100 per cent attendance. But the attendance was thin to moderate in most offices. According to officials, it may take a week for the attendance to become normal.
To ensure social distancing, the government has allowed re-opening of shops on the odd-even basis on alternate days. This means two shops adjacent to each other won't be open on the same day.
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Commissioner Lokesh Kumar said shops were being numbered to implement the rule. Shops numbered one can open on Mondays, while those allotted number two can remain open on Tuesdays.
In case of dispute between two adjacent shops or cluster of shops regarding opening on a particular day, all the shops would be shut till the end of lockdown, he said.
The GHMC has made wearing mask compulsory for shop hands as well as customers. Shops have been told to ensure foot markings for social/physical distancing and provide hand sanitizers at the entry and exit points.
“We are following ‘no mask, no goods/no service' policy. Any violation will attract Rs 1,000 fine,” the Municipal Commissioner said.
Shopping malls, restaurants, pubs, bars and cinema halls will remain shut. But take-away from restaurants is permitted. Salons too re-opened, providing relief to people waiting for long for a hair-cut or shave.
Meanwhile, all shops were allowed to open in towns. So far, shops and other business establishments were functioning on the odd-even basis. All industries and factories were also permitted to open. The authorities also allowed 100 per cent functioning of e-commerce companies.
While announcing relaxations on Monday night, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao cautioned people against roaming aimlessly, saying any spread of Covid-19 might force the government to go back to lockdown.