New Delhi, March 26 : Even as more and more people are now realising the importance of social distancing in the battle against coronavirus outbreak, such exercise seems to go for a toss once evening hours set in in outer Delhi areas.
People stay indoors after morning purchases of items of daily needs like milk and bread etc, but come out in numbers as the dusk approaches.
Since people in west Delhi are heavily dependent on weekly markets for fruits and vegetables and small shops in their respective areas for essential items, they are facing a crunch in supplies since weekly markets are shut, at least for now.
Vendors selling fruits and vegetables on handcarts have mushroomed in outer Delhi areas since they are the only ones allowed to ply their trade during the lockdown. As evening hours approach they are thronged by people in their dozens.
While local shopkeepers are enforcing social distancing in order to escape the wrath of police, who are out to enforce the healthy practice, people throw all caution to the wind when they are out to buy fruits and vegetables from vendors plying handcarts.
Surprisingly, they don't even wear masks while indulging in such unacceptable behaviour. Women are more to blame for this than men on this count.
So, even as fruits and vegetables are sold at inflated prices, the social distancing norm is thrown to the wind, bringing all efforts of the officialdom to prevent the spread of coronavirus to a nought.
Interestingly, some shopkeepers have displayed items used for religious rituals during Navratri outside their shops even when such items are not in the essential category.
While people do follow proper distance while police is out announcing the same, things are back to the normal once they move away.
There are fears that since people are failing to follow the social distancing norm, authorities may be forced to enforce Section 144 of the CrPC to make such people fall in line.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Tuesday night a countrywide lockdown from March 24 midnight, following which people rushed to make last-minute shopping. This led to further shortage of items since people had also made purchases earlier as well during and after the Janata Curfew on March 22.
So, people too have been made to throw caution to the wind in their bid to ensure two meals a day for themselves and their families. Officials too seem to realise this and act accordingly, but this can come at a heavy price in the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Jayant Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)