Six N-E states declare lockdown, no bar on essential services

Guwahati/Agartala/Aizawl, March 23 (IANS) Six of the eight northeastern states — Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram — have declared lockdown to curb the coronavirus spread.

During the lockdown, banking services, shops and markets dealing with groceries, vegetables, medicine, milk, cooking gas, and petrol pumps would remain open in most of the N-E states.

According to officials, no coronavirus case has been reported in the N-E states, including Sikkim.

In Guwahati, Assam Health and Family Welfare and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday declared the lockdown. The restrictions would be effective from 6 p.m. on Tuesday and would continue until March 31, he said.

“The freight trains, goods-laden trucks and other vehicles with essentials commodities on way to their destinations in the other N-E states would be allowed to operate to prevent any shortage,” Sarma said.

The Assam government has also suspended inter-state and inter-district passenger transport services.

In Agartala, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb after a cabinet meeting declared the lockdown until March 31. “It will be effective from 2 p.m. on Tuesday. All essential services would remain operational and vehicles associated with the health and emergency services would be allowed to operate,” he said.

Stating that the prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPc were enforced on March 13, he said strict action would be taken if more than 4-5 people assembled anywhere in the state.

In Imphal, the Manipur government declared lockdown, except emergency and essential services till March 31. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. It also reviewed the measures taken to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

In Kohima, Nagaland Chief Secretary Temjen Toy issued an order restricting the movement of people and vehicles, except those engaged in essential services, for indefinite period from Monday midnight.

“All government and semi-government offices, shops and businesses, except those providing essential services, have been asked to shut as a preventive measure against Covid-19. All entry points to Nagaland would be sealed, except for movement of essential commodities, medical equipment and supplies, security forces and goods vehicles passing through the state,” the Chief Secretary said.

In Aizawl, the Mizoram government has also announced one-week partial lockdown from Sunday night till March 29.

According to the notification, all shops and business establishments, barring pharmacies and shops selling essential commodities, would remain closed during the lockdown.

Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo said the Lengpui Airport would continue to function as the residents of Mizoram stuck outside the state and flying from other parts of the country would be permitted entry.

In Itanagar, the Arunachal Pradesh government also announced lockdown from Monday evening till March 31. Announcing it, Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar said all essential services would be allowed to function during the period.

“The state government will enforce ‘complete safety restrictions'. No public and private vehicles will be be permitted to ply. However, vehicles to and fro hospitals, airport, helipad, railway stations and vehicles carrying food and essential commodities will be allowed to operate,” he said.

As a preventive step against Covid-19, the Tripura Assembly curtailed its five-day budget session to just two and adjourned sine die on Monday after approving the budget in “guillotine”.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told the Assembly two government doctors were suspended for their negligence to deal with coronavirus. In response to the demand of the CPI(M), Deb said his government would provide 15-day rice to 25 lakh people, comprising 5.86 lakh families belonging to below poverty line (BPL) and the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

“Various special financial support would be provided to the ailing and needy and families till the situations improve,” he said.



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