The Tamil Nadu Government on Thursday announced that Government offices will start functioning with one-third staff strength from May 3 when the extended lockdown will come to an end.
Already private companies, IT enabled services and banks are functioning with reduced staff advised to work from home and even customers also advised to go for online banking. The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board advised users to pay their bi-monthly bills online.
A GO said essential services like supply of drinking water, milk and electricity , maintenance of roads and highways and hospitals and medical shops as also garbage clearing by conservancy staff would continue to function as before. It has already allowed restricted hours for vegetable and fruit stalls and grocery shops.
It added to the relaxed list electrical goods shops as also mobile recharge shops.
It also announced that 100 days work under MNREGA would resume to give jobs to farm hands. However, only one-third of farm workers would be engaged to ensure social distancing.
It also said farmers would be allowed to be allowed to take their produce to any part of the State for sale. However, farmers said there were no bus services and even private transport by private vehicles was questioned by local police in view of the lockdown.
Vegetables, fruits and flowers are rotting in the field because there are no takers in view of transport restrictions . Television channels showed farmers using their own tractors to raze flowers and fruits raised in their field.
In keeping with central guidelines, the Tamil Nadu Government also said rural artisans like plumbers, painters and electricians would be exempted from lockdown. But plumbers for examples said they cannot work unless hardware shops reopen. Likewise electricians said they cannot replace even fused light bulbs until electrical shops reopen.
The Government’s relaxation will help as a relief to these daily wage earners.
The GO, however, said there was no exemption from relaxations from lockdown in containment zones in any city or district like for example Chennai which has close to 400 cases.
In a mixed signal, the Chennai corporation said the over 400 Amma canteens will supply food free of cost to all till May 3. But to cripple vehicle movement, the Chennai traffic police closed the main arterial road of Anna Salai from Walajabad junction right to Gemini flyover.
The police said that in utter disregard of lockdown , motorists and two-wheeler riders were moving about in the city when regulations stipulated people can come out only in the forenoon that too only to buy essentials like fruits, vegetables and medicines. Seizures of vehicles and imposition of fines had had no deterrent effect, they said.
If there was no improvement, the closure of the Anna Salai would be extended further from Gemini circle right up to Saidapet, the police have said.