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No masks in Guwahati

Even as the government is making an all-out effort to bring the Covid situation under control

masks

Sentinel Digital Desk

Even as the government is making an all-out effort to bring the Covid situation under control, a section of people appear to be determined to derail the effort and make the situation worse every passing day. This section includes people of all categories and levels, from government officers to clerks, and roadside vendors to daily-wage labourers. It is a common sight in Guwahati where well-to-do people move around in their expensive vehicles with either no mask or with a mask below the chin. A visit to any of the several legal and illegal bazaars across the city, whether at Ganeshguri Chariali or Maligaon Chariali, or whether at the illegal bazaar below the Six-Mile flyover or the one on the Jalukbari flyover – and one will see at least three out of four people, most of them the vendors, not wearing a mask. At most construction sites too, lEven as the government is making an all-out effort to bring the Covid situation under control, a section of people appear to be determined to derail the effort and make the situation worse every passing day. This section includes people of all categories and levels, from government officers to clerks, and roadside vendors to daily-wabourers are not seen wearing a mask. Most e-rickshaw drivers and auto-rickshaw drivers also do not wear the mask. What is most alarming is that the above categories of people come into contact with a large number of people every day by way of offering their services. They also exchange currency notes with their customers apart from selling them various items from vegetables to fruits, meat and fish. Moreover, while hand-washing has become a thing of the past, none of the above-mentioned people uses hand sanitisers. Even among the permanent shopkeepers, not even 25 per cent of them use a hand sanitiser themselves, not to speak of spraying some sanitiser on the palms of the customer before and after delivery of various items. The police and other law-enforcing agencies including the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) have either not noticed the above-mentioned things, or have chosen not to see them. In all likelihood, the second has the highest possibility. It should not be a difficult task for the authorities, including the GMC, the Guwahati Police Commissionerate, the Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner and the Health Department to send one official around the bazaars every morning to appeal to the vendors and shop-keepers to use the mask and hand-sanitiser. It should probably also not be a difficult task to appeal to the citizens not to buy things – vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, meat, Tamul-paan or cigarettes – from vendors and shopkeepers who do not wear a mask. The authorities – particularly the Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner in his role as District Magistrate – can also make it mandatory for all shopkeepers to prominently display a copy of their vaccination certificate so that customers can avoid those shops which do not display the same. Posters can be pasted and banners and hoardings put up asking the citizens not to buy things from vendors and shopkeepers who do not wear masks. Additionally, vendors, as well as citizens, can also be penalized on the spot for spitting in public places. As far as the police are concerned, the Guwahati Police Commissioner may direct the officers-in-charge of the police stations to refrain from using the lathi against the erring or defiant vendors and shopkeepers. Instead, they may be asked to distribute masks among the vendors. Simultaneously, leaders of the various students' organizations, which these days have no issue at hand to organize strikes and dharnas and effigy-burning and tyre-burning, can also engage themselves in generating awareness amongst the vendors, shopkeepers and all other categories of people in public places towards the use – and constant and compulsory use – of masks and hand-sanitisers. All these can be and should be done in the larger interest of the safety of the citizens.

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