11/05/2020 5:55 PM IST

Only Milk And Medicine: Ahmedabad's Chaotic Lockdown Cuts Off Residents' Ration Supply

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has ordered all shops, except those selling milk and medicine, to be shut till 15 May.

SAM PANTHAKY via Getty Images
Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol along a street during a government-imposed lockdown in Ahmedabad on May 8, 2020.

People in Ahmedabad have been struggling to buy provisions since the government suddenly announced a complete lockdown till 15 May to contain the rising number of Covid-19 cases. 

The total confirmed cases in Ahmedabad have jumped to 5,818 after 278 people tested positive for the infection on Sunday alone, an official of the state health department told PTI. According to the health ministry update on Monday, Gujarat has 8,194 confirmed coronavirus cases. It is also one of the states where the Union health ministry has sent a central team. The team, the ministry said, will support the state health department in implementation of containment measures in affected areas.

On 6 May, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) announced it would shut all shops in the city — except those selling milk and medicine — till 15 May. There were reports of long queues outside shops and traffic jams soon after the announcement as people rushed out to buy essentials.   

Vipul Pandya, General Secretary of the Ahmedabad-based Bandkham Mazdoor Sangathan, a trade union, rued the lack of planning before announcing the shutdown. “It’s a major problem because workers are not getting any ration. The government has been of no help, they are not providing any ration. If a lockdown is announced suddenly, it’s the government’s responsibility to at least give out food packets,” he told HuffPost India.

Earlier, he said, activists would collect donations and send grocery kits to people who needed them. However, with all grocery shops now shut, even this has become impossible, he said. Pandya added that workers on construction sites have complained of not having enough food and the government should have ensured they got ration during the lockdown. 

He pointed out that there was no notice before the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation announced the complete shutdown. 

A petition has been filed before the Gujarat High Court which challenges the AMC order. The petition, filed by advocate Neel Lakhani on behalf of advocate and social activist Harshit Indravadan Shah, said the lack of prior intimation led to gathering in front of grocery stores, according to Live Law.

It also said that people were left with insufficient amounts of food which won’t last a week without any remedy or other sources.  

Ahmedabad Mirror also reported on how people living on the footpaths near Victoria Garden have been surviving only on water for past four days. Ali Ahmed, a daily wager, told Ahmedabad Mirror that people distributed cooked food till last week, but that has stopped in the last few days. 

Kartik Gupta, an engineer who lives in Ahmedabad, told HuffPost India that he got no prior notice about the complete lockdown and was unable to stock up. “Our stock of pulses and flour will also soon run out and we haven’t been able to get any vegetables because of the shutdown.”

People also came out on the roads in Ahmedabad’s Amraiwadi area on Sunday to demand ration, India Today reported. 

Meanwhile, Ahmedabad Mirror also reported that the police has been stopping people from going to clinics or hospitals. Private clinics, nursing homes and hospitals were served notices on 6 May and asked to open within 48 hours. Doctors who were not opening their clinics were asked to take care of patients at Covid-19 care centres or asymptomatic patients at home. 

Ami Chokshi, who had immense toothache, told the newspaper that she wasn’t allowed by the police to go to her dentist. “If the government has directed all doctors to keep their clinics open, then why not allow patients to receive treatment?” she asked.