With 99% non-red zones, NE states crawling back to normalcy (Roundup)

Guwahati/Agartala/Imphal, May 5 (IANS) After the eased third phase of lockdown began, most northeastern states including Assam were crawling back to a form of normalcy on Tuesday even as they were yet to announce the opening of educational institutions.

Except Tripura’s Dhalai district headquarters Ambassa, among the remaining 116 districts in eight northeastern states, there is no red zone.

One district in Meghalaya and four districts in Assam are orange zones while all the remaining districts are in green zones.

The Union Health Ministry on Monday declared Tripura’s Ambassa as a “red zone” after 24 Border Security Force personnel and three family members of a trooper tested positive for Covid-19 since Saturday.

With the approval of the Union Home Ministry, many economic activities including the functioning of over 850 tea gardens, mostly in Assam, have started plucking and processing from mid-April after weeks of disruption due to the lockdown.

Following various norms and rotational systems of presence of staff, government and private offices have started functioning from Monday and Tuesday.

While all liquor shops and wholesale warehouses in Assam and Meghalaya opened from April 13 for limited hours, the liquor shops have started sale in the remaining northeastern states from Monday.

Meanwhile, most northeastern states are also gearing up to receive the stranded people in other states.

Except Tripura, public transport have also been plying in all the other states in the region with the vehicles carrying 25 per cent to 50 per cent of total seat capacity.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said that the senior government officials are discussing with the transport operators to finalise a modus operandi to operate the public transport from Wednesday or Thursday.

In Assam, the eased Covid-19 lockdown allowed several commercial activities to resume across the state’s green zones. There are no red zones in Assam with 31 of the 42 who tested positive for Covid-19 having been discharged while one person died.

Of Assam’s 33 districts, only four are categorised as orange zones.

After many weeks, both men and women ventured out of their homes to buy essential commodities and other items as 33 per cent of shops and commercial establishments were allowed to open on a rotation basis by the government from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In Agartala, Chief Minister Deb, who also holds the Home and Health Departments, asked the people to observe “Border Curfew” along the state’s frontiers with Bangladesh. The northeastern states are afraid of spread of Covid-19 into the region from neighbouring Bangladesh, where the total cases are 10,140 and the death toll has reached 182.

In Manipur, the state government has allowed relaxation in opening of shops, markets and offices as the entire state is in the green zone. With the relaxation of the lockdown for 10 hours from 6 a.m., the Paona Market and Thangal Market in capital Imphal opened and people in large number visiting these markets to procure essentials.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the state government has decided to allow the opening of shops on a rotational basis in order to avoid and control crowds amid the Covid-19 outbreak. “Cinema halls, public auditorium, swimming pools, gyms and bars would continue to remain shut,” the official added.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has, however, banned the selling of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the state.

In Mizoram, the state has become the first in the northeast, to promulgate an ordinance to tackle violations of personal and public safety, public hygiene, and lockdown measures with stringent punishment.

The ordinance, which promulgated on Sunday, gives broader powers to officials and stipulates imprisonment up to three months and a fine of Rs 5,000 for violations of personal and public safety norms.

In Meghalaya, the state government has decided to allow mining activities to resume for domestic purposes and barred the export outside the country.

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