Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar/ Cuttack: Prevention is better than cure and holds the key to check the spread of coronavirus pandemic. Taking cue from this adage, Odisha government’s entire focus is now on restricting ‘unrestricted’ movement and congregation of people.

Ahead of the Janata Curfew clarion by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow, several district administrations on Saturday including Twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar introduced the odd-even formula for the public transport. Under the formula, taxis and auto-rickshaws having odd registration numbers shall ply on the odd-numbered days and those with even registration numbers will ply on even numbered days.

Even though it is a temporary restriction imposed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, it evoked mixed reaction from the people in Bhubaneswar.

Also Read: PM Modi Calls For Daylong ‘Janata Curfew’ On March 22

“We welcome the initiative. However, it will be a problem for the drivers as their livelihood will be affected,“ said an auto-rickshaw driver.

Another driver rued that, “The State government should come up with some measures so that the payment of our EMIs towards purchase of auto-rickshaw is pushed for at least two months in view of the situation arising out of coronavirus outbreak.”

Though Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) yesterday announced that the odd-even rule will be applicable for public transport vehicles including buses/ taxis and autos, Commissionerate Police today clarified that buses and trucks will be out from the purview of the norm in the larger interest of the public.

Bhubaneswar Traffic DCP, Sagarika Nath today stated that, “It is clarified that Taxis and Autos for hire have been regulated to make sure that they are on road on alternate days. This order doesn’t apply to Trucks & Buses as being rumoured. Let's avoid congregations and stop coronavirus.”

The clarification has come as a respite for people as they were apprehensive over the transportation of essential commodities in view of such odd-even rule for trucks.

Cuttack Private Bus Owners’ Association Secretary, Ajay Barik said that State government has already clarified that the odd-even rule will not be applicable for buses and trucks. “Already the inflow of passengers has registered a sharp fall. At present, not a single bus is plying to Puri as darshan of deities is suspended at Srimandir in view of the coronavirus outbreak,” he said.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak: No Passenger Trains To Ply During ‘Janata Curfew’ On Mar 22

Barik further stated that bus association is supporting the Janta curfew to be observed across the country tomorrow.

“People have voluntarily restricted travelling in public transport and we have undertaken special measures to disinfect buses on a daily basis. No buses will operate tomorrow in view of Janta curfew,” he added.

Apart from the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, the odd-even rule also came into effect in Bhadrak and Keonjhar in five municipal areas- Barbil, Joda, Champua, Keonjhar and Anandpur from today.

Meanwhile, extending support to the clarion call of PM Narendra Modi, State bus owners' association Convenor Debasish Nayak informed that all the 14000 private buses will remain off-road tomorrow between 7 AM and 9 PM during Janta Curfew.

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