BHUBANESWAR: In a bold move Naveen Patnaik’s government has ordered a week long lockdown of about 40 per cent of the state, including state capital Bhubaneswar, twin city cuttack and important industrial townships.

For the next seven days, starting from 22 March until 29 March, a complete lockdown will be observed from 7am until 9pm in Khurdha, Cuttack, Ganjam, Kendrapada and Angul districts and the towns of Puri, Rourkela Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Jajpur road and Jajpur town and Bhadrak.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik released a video explaining the urgent need for such a measure. The numbers of positive cases were rising in India, and there was a very small window to take pre- emptive action. “There is no cure for this virus. The only cure is prevention…Time has come for us to take the extraordinary step and sacrifice, to protect our state and our people. I humbly request you to stay at home and come out only for basic services,” he said.

Hospitals and clinics, pharmacies, grocery shops, vegetables, meat and milk shops, bakeries (won’t be allowed sell hot tea or other beverages) and restaurants for takeaways and home deliveries will be allowed. Only public transport will be allowed – Railway stations, bus stands and airports will remain open. Pension and PDS distribution in these five districts and eight towns are being postponed for the time being.

Mapping the database of those who have recently returned from abroad, 3200 people registered on their portal, the state government realised a majority of them were from these areas.

Administration, police, health, fire departments, electricity, water, municipal services, banks and ATMs and petrol pumps shall remain with private establishments that support these or working to fight the pandemic.

These districts are home to Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and Vedanta’s plants, to name just a few. The lock down applies to all private companies ho will need certificate from the concerned collector for exemptions to this rule.

Service providers including from the private sector engaged in COVID-19 are to be declared as ‘Emergency Workers’. Requesting citizens to pitch in to ensure this lockdown actually works, Patnaik called for community leaders to keep a close watch and monitor it. He warned of tough action against anyone “‘risking their life, the lives of their family members and people of Odisha” by violating this lockdown.

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