Chennai, March 24 (IANS) With the number of coronavirus infected persons touching 15, Tamil Nadu on Tuesday evening entered into the lockdown mode till March 31.
Prime Minister’s announcement came two hours after the state entered the lockdown mode and there was not much of a panic buying after the announcement.
Prohibitory orders have been imposed across the state and borders have been closed for inter-state traffic in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Even before the clampdown, life in the state started slowing down with roads having limited traffic, largely absent public transport and many shops downing their shutters.
There were crowds in grocery and vegetable shops despite the government assurances that transport of vegetables and essential items will be allowed as usual.
In the state Assembly, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami announced free supplies of ration, cash assistance of Rs 1,000 and several other measures involving an outlay of Rs 3,280 crore for the benefit of the poor to tide over their livelihood problems owing to the lockdown.
The welfare measures include cash assistance of Rs 1,000 for all those families with ration cards eligible to get free supply of rice, oil, sugar, lentils in April. Ration card holders who missed buying in March can buy their quota in April; free supply of 15 kg rice, 1 kg each of cooking oil and lentils for construction and unorganised sector workers from other states identified by the District Collector or welfare boards of the concerned unorganised sector, continued supply of subsidised food at Amma Canteens, setting up of kitchens for supply of food for destitutes across the state, registered pavement vendors will be paid an additional Rs 1,000 as cash assistance in addition to the Rs 1,000 paid through public distribution system and two days special wages for those who had worked under the MNREGA.
Lauding the tireless services of doctors, nurses and others in attending to the patients suffering from coronavirus, Palaniswami also announced one month special pay for them.
Earlier Palaniswami had announced a series of measures in the Assembly to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state. He said barring the transport of essential items, public and private transport including auto-rickshaws, taxis would not be allowed to operate.
He said barring essential government departments — police, fire service, public health, prisons, district administration, healthcare, judiciary, local administration — others will remain closed.
He said in the case of the private sector, employees should be asked to work from home barring medical staff and hospitals.
In respect of manufacturing units, those producing essential items and export units can work with limited number of staff and in the case of realty sector, construction activities are to be stopped barring essential buildings.
Eateries can sell only packed food while Amma Canteens – the government owned subsidised canteens – will function as usual, Palaniswmai said.
Palaniswami said a sum of Rs.60 crore was earlier allocated for preventing the spread of coronavirus in the state and now an additional sum of Rs.500 crore has been sanctioned for the purpose.