Province 5 ready to tackle contingent food shortages, officials sayLocal units work together with residents to curb people’s movement in a bid to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
The province 5 government and local councils have floated plans to ease the supply of goods during the ongoing nationwide lockdown.
“We will identify the families that are in need of urgent help and deliver 10kg rice, 2kg lentils and one kilo salt to their homes,” Basudev Ghimire, the mayor of Tilottama, said. “We will take further steps to ease the supply of essentials after assessing the situation.”
According to the municipal office, all the wards have an average of 800 impoverished families that need support.
An all-party meeting on Thursday urged landowners to waive the rent for one month for all tenants in the municipality and announced that delays in the payment of rental taxes and other charges would be accepted.
“The meeting has also decided to monitor the lockdown,” Ghimire said, adding that essential services like ambulance, milk and water vendors, and petrol pumps would run as usual.
Meanwhile, Siyari Rural Municipality has announced the completion of a makeshift hospital at a local school that has been set up as a quarantine facility, and has pledged to provide food and accommodation for quarantined individuals, according to Ayodhya Prasad Tharu, chief of the rural municipality.
Province 5 Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel has asked every local unit to remain alert for contingent emergencies during the lockdown. He has also requested local units to set up quarantine facilities and to maintain a record and monitor those who have recently returned from India and other countries. According to Pokharel, all ministries will coordinate to ease the supply of goods and deal with contingent crises in the province.
“We are especially committed to making provisions of essential goods and reducing crowds while delivering services,” Bharat Subedi, secretary to the Province 5 Cabinet, said.
Meanwhile, the Palpa administration has announced that the district doesn’t have a shortage of food. The District Coordination Committee on Thursday pledged to monitor people’s access to essential goods and services. The committee has requested traders to keep their shops open for three hours in morning and two hours in the evening over the period of lockdown.
The shops will remain open from 7 to 10 in the morning and 4 to 6 in the evening, according to Meera Marasini, chief of the coordination committee. The committee has also asked shops to manage a spot to wash hands and to wear masks as precautions.
In Dang, the administration has requested the district chamber of commerce and local units to monitor black marketing of goods. The Lamahi Municipality has formed a monitoring committee led by Mayor Kul Bahadur KC. “If we find there’s black marketing or artificial shortage of goods, we will resort to stringent measures,” KC said.
Biru Rawat, chair of the Tulsipur Chamber of Commerce, said that his office has informed all businesspeople to be honest and refrain from black marketeering.
“The district has enough food supplies for at least a month,” Narayan Bhusal, chair of the Dang District Chamber of Commerce, said. Moreover, the district administration has requested all the local units to identify wage-earners and provide food to them.
While the provincial and local governments are on high alert, the local residents have also stepped up measures to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 transmission. A majority of local federal units have set up barriers along roads to stop the movement of people and vehicles.
In some places, people have banned outsiders who venture into the settlements without the permission of the respective local unit.
Locals of Devinagar, Banijya Campus and other areas in Butwal have built barricades and are informing the local administration if an outsider enters their settlement.
In Malubhung of the Tulsipur sub-metropolis, all outsiders are prohibited from visiting the settlement. Yam Prasad Subedi, chairman of the Ekata Tole Bikash Sanstha, said they have decided to counsel outsiders on why it’s necessary for them to take precautions but if anyone is found breaching the local administration’s directive repeatedly will be fined Rs 2,000. “We have decided to prohibit movement to stop the possible spread of the virus,” said Subedi.
In Lamahi Municipality Ward 5, Ramailo Tole has blocked the main thoroughfare and started awareness programmes to keep the local population informed about the ways the novel coronavirus spreads.
While residents are found to be abiding by the lockdown order and following the local government’s directives in most parts of the province, in rural areas of Nawalparasi (East) and (West), many are found to be defying the prohibitory measures. Although the lockdown has been effective in bazaar areas so far, the rural areas remain untouched.
Youths of Nawalparasi (West) on Friday decided to impose a ban on vehicular movement after the locals did not take the lockdown seriously in the first three days. Barricades carrying banners with messages to abide by the lockdown have been put up in several places.
Sushant Ghimire, a resident of Sarawal, said, “We have started to send migrant workers [who recently arrived in the villages] in self-quarantine. We are organising awareness programmes in villages to inform the locals about the importance of social distancing and maintaining hygiene.”
In Kawasoti, Nawalparasi (East), some locals of Taruwa have come together to make others follow the lockdown order. They have also decided to impose a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone defying the lockdown. Ashok Mahato, a Kawasoti local, said they had to resort to putting up physical barriers on the roads since the first three days of the lockdown saw vehicles still being operated.
“We are forced to restrict vehicular movement here because we had vehicles coming in carrying outsiders even after the lockdown went into effect on Tuesday,” said Mahato.
(Madhab Aryal in Palpa, Durgalal KC in Dang and Nabin Paudel in Nawalparasi (East) contributed to this report.)