Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded in his latest 'Mann ki Baat' on Sunday that there is no room for complacency when it comes to maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, the national capital region seems to be not paying enough attention. As Unlock-1 is about to come to an end, Delhi-NCR seems to be gathering on its e-rickshaws, jostling at departmental stores and even refusing to wear masks while outside.
Kanhaiya, who runs a furniture shop in Delhi's Budh Vihar area, says, "There are times when 4-5 people come together. We have to ask them to enter in turns. While some are still observing the social distancing measures, there are also those who refuse to pay any heed to it".
Ajay Kumar, who also runs a furniture shop in Delhi's Budh Vihar, not far from Kanhaiya's, is more upfront in accepting the reality, "Take it from me, there's absolutely no following of rules on the streets and markets. People can be seen roaming about without a mask." He adds that he doesn't allow more than two customers in is shop at a given time.
But shopkeepers blame it on consumers rather than curbing their flow. Pramod Singh who runs a shop in Mangolpuri says, "What can be done. Many are now not following the measures we were practicing during the lockdown. They should understand themselves."
When IANS checked a departmental store in Noida's Sector 75, it was choc-a-block with customers buying household essentials on a Saturday evening.
However, that seems to be an aberration, not the norm across markets in Delhi NCR, that were shut for nearly two and a half months and are desperate to make up for the loss.
"During this unlock period, one will have to focus on two points -- defeating corona and strengthening the economy and bolstering it," said Modi on Sunday while addressing his monthly radio program. He cautioned, "During the unlock period, we have to stay more vigilant compared to the lockdown period and only alertness can save you from corona."
There have been 2,889 fresh COVID-19 cases reported from Delhi alone while 65 have died due to the pandemic. AIIMS director Randeep Guleria has recently warned that India, which has more than 2 lakh active coronavirus cases, as on sunday, is vulnerable to the second wave of coronavirus. However, that hasn't stopped rickshaws running to full capacity during the rush hours in the morning and evening.
"I have seen many people wear masks but they either dangle from their ears or don't cover their noses. At least half of them wear it improperly. And there are also those, who are roaming about without it," says Ram Sundar, a security guard who is employed in a housing society in Noida.
Next month onwards, the economy will be further opened up with speculations that Delhi Metro may be given a green signal to start off. However, with individuals lowering their guards, it poses a threat not only to the national capital but adjoining Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad, Greater Noid too, in the days to come.