UP man calls COVID-19 helpline asking for samosas, DM gets him to clean drains in the area

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Updated: March 31, 2020 10:55 AM

Coronavirus helpline: Rampur administration has issued eight helpline numbers including two mobile phone numbers and three WhatsApp numbers.

The Rampur DM tweeted a picture of the man who had asked for samosas, now cleaning drains, with a note on his offence. (Photo: Twitter/@DeoRampur)

The Uttar Pradesh government has launched helpline numbers to deal with those in trouble during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown. However, there are many who are dialling these helpline numbers to order pizzas and samosas. In Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur, the administration said locals have flooded the essential services helpline with demands for pizzas and samosas, a report in The Indian Express said. Rampur administration has issued eight helpline numbers including two mobile phone numbers and three WhatsApp numbers.

Rampur DM Ajani Kumar Singh said 50% of “our resources and time is used to handle these nonsensical demands”.

Singh told the daily this is a huge problem the officials are facing ever since the control rooms were set up. The administration has now decided to fine those who are flooding these helpline numbers with such demands.

He said a man had called up the Swar tehsil control room number and demanded four samosas. Singh said he personally ensured that the man was fined and even punished. The man was made to clean all the drains in an area, the IE report said.

“These had been ready even before the Prime Minister announced the lockdown, one in the district headquarters and in every tehsil and block,” Singh said.

Singh said one man called up asking us to send him a pizza. “We got a call from a paan shop owner saying he had run out of paan and that we must send him some,” he said.

The DM said many others have called and asked to send cooked food. Also, pharmacies and grocers have been calling and asking to send supplies. But the problem goes beyond that, he said, adding that when volunteers reach their place, they find that there was no actual need. “Persons concerned were simply testing the system,” he said.

Singh said there are also some genuine calls as he narrated the story of a pregnant teacher. He said that the lady was unwell and she wanted to go back home. But the officials advised her to stay in Rampur and sent her cooked food, medicines and a doctor for regular check-ups.

The district administration has now taken up the matter seriously and has started imposing fines on such people. The IE report said the administration is levying a fine of Rs 500 for every such violation. Till Monday evening in the past five days, the Rampur administration had collected close to Rs 2 lakh in fines alone.

The administration has also started publicly shaming these violators by putting up their pictures and offences on social media.

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