Social distancing goes for a toss as people jostle for income certificates

Hundreds of residents assembled at tehsil office here, in violation of social distancing norms, to receive income certificates, raising questions over the preparation by the district administration to organise the event in times of COVID19 pandemic.

The district administration had organised a “mega income certificate distribution mela”. However, in the presence of the official, people were seen jostling, without wearing masks or adhering to social distancing norms, leading to the threat of spread of coronavirus.

“Few days ago, several employees of the tehsil office tested positive for the COVID19 and today the authorities organised this mela in complete violation of government issued health guidelines and COVID SOPs,” said a local Ghulam Rasool.

He said when the authorities were not bothered to ensure social distancing at the government-run offices, how can they expect people to adhere to the norms in markets and other public places.

After witnessing the rush at the tehsil office, Rasool decided to return home without receiving the income certificate. “I would not put my life and my family members at risk by being part of this rush,” he said.

Similar scenes were witnessed at other tehsil offices across the district. At Boniyar tehsil office, where more than 800 income certificates were issued on the spot, the rush of the people was so large that officials had to frequently stop the work. The officials were seen shouting at the people to observe social distancing and wear masks, but, applicants kept ignoring the pleas.

“The authorities should have ensured that some policemen are deployed at major tehsil offices were chances of people turning up in large number were evident. Due rto the failure of the authorities these tehsil office were potential place of contracting the virus,” said another resident.

There are 18 tehsil offices across this northern Kashmir district. There were reports received about non-adherence to the social distancing norms and violation of COVID19 SOPs from most of these offices.