Maharashtra Lockdown: Why Pune is Not Getting Relief From Lockdown Curbs

Between 27 July and 2 August the positivity rate of Pune district was 6.31 percent, and 6.52 percent the week prior.

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The Maharashtra government on Monday, 2 August, eased lockdown restriction for 25 districts, including Mumbai. However, there was no relief for the state’s biggest city, Pune and 10 other districts.

In Mumbai, which has reported a positivity rate of less than 1 percent, the Brihanmumbai Municipality Corporation (BMC) has allowed shops and other establishments to remain open till 10 pm, and hotels and restaurants to operate till 4 pm through the week.

The districts where Level 3 restrictions will continue are Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Beed, Raigad, and Palgha. These districts have displayed a high positivity rate and for restrictions to be lowered to Level 2 or lower, the positivity rate needs to be less than 5 percent.

Even though the positivity rate in Pune has been declining for the past few weeks, the state government's decision to exclude Pune from the existing lockdown restrictions has caused an uproar among trade unions and politicians.


What is Pune’s Positivity Rate?

Pune district, which includes Pune Rural, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipality Corporation (PCMC) has been reporting a positivity rate of around 6 percent for the past few weeks. Between 27 July and 2 August the positivity rate of Pune district was 6.31 percent and 6.52 percent the week prior.

According to a Hindustan Times report, Pune Municipal Corporation, where a majority of the urban population lives, has however, reported a decline in positivity since 15 July. Between 15-21 July, the rate was 3.9 percent, it dropped further to 3.23 percent between 29 July-2 August.

However, Subhash Salunkhe, the state's technical advisor on COVID-19 states that rural areas surrounding Pune are reporting 60 percent of the cases from the entire districts, easing restrictions may be invite another spike in the city.

"Even though the figures of COVID are decreasing in Pune city, no one area can be exempted as a separate unit. About 60 percent of the figures are still being found in rural areas. Pune is a big industrial hub and people keep moving from rural areas to the main city for work. In such a situation, once again there may be a spike in Pune," he said.

Why are Pune Trade Unions Protesting?

Trade unions in Pune are demanding that Pune Rural, PMC and PCMC should be considered as three different administration districts so that restrictions are not blanketed on the the entire district.

Pune Mayor Muralidhar Mohol has questioned the move, stating that since the Shiv Sena maintains control of the Brihanmumbai Municipality Corporation (BMC), the city has been favoured. The Bharatiya Janata Party runs the Pune corporation.

Speaking to Twitter, Mohol said that it is unfair for Pune to maintain Level 3 rules even though positivity rate is below 4 percent.

Fatehchand Ranka, president of Federation of Trade Associations of Pune, said that if the traders of Pune do not get relief, they will protest against the government for breaking rules.

“COVID cases have gone down in Pune city and yet shop timings continue to be open till 4 pm. To oppose this biased decision by the state government, all our association members and traders across the city protested today while planning to keep the shops open till 7 pm from tomorrow,” reported Hindustan Times, quoting Ranka.

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