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News18 Daybreak | Railways to Resume Passenger Train Services on 15 Routes and Other Stories You Need to Watch Out For


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  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 11, 2020, 7:20 AM IST

Today’s Top Stories

Railways to resume passenger train services on 15 routes from Tuesday, online bookings start today

The Indian Railways will restart passenger train operations from May 12, 51 days after the services were halted to control the spread of the coronavirus. The services will resume initially with 15 pair of trains, or a total of 30 journeys, the national transporter said on Sunday. Passenger trains will depart from New Delhi Railway Station and connect to Mumbai, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Howrah, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Jammu, Dibrugarh, Agartala, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Madgaon.

 

Former PM Manmohan Singh Admitted in AIIMS After Complaining of Chest Pain

 

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was admitted to AIIMS after he complained of chest pain. According to sources, the senior Congress leader was admitted in the hospital at 8.40pm and has been kept under observation at the cardio-thoracic ward. The 87-year-old has been admitted to a hospital room and not to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). He was admitted under Dr Nitish Naik, a professor of cardiology at the AIIMS.

 

In Other News

 

Decision on lockdown: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with chief ministers today to discuss the next stage in the exit from the nationwide lockdown enforced to contain novel coronavirus outbreak and various issues comprising the economy, officials said on Sunday.

Concerning: Around 150 Indian and Chinese soldiers on both sides engaged in an aggressive confrontation in North Sikkim’s Naku La that left four Indian soldiers and seven Chinese soldiers injured. The confrontation was disengaged after dialogue and interaction at local level.

Unopposed: Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is set to enter the Legislative Council unopposed as the Congress announced that it would withdraw one of its two nominees for the May 21 elections to nine seats.

 

Super spreaders: As many as 334 coronavirus ‘super-spreaders’ have been found in Ahmedabad so far, and it is the main reason for the order to keep shops of groceries and vegetables closed till May 15, officials said on Sunday.

 

On Our Specials

Lockdown dilemma: They are finally living with their children. Normally, or for the lack of it, they reside in separate buildings where men come by the dozen throughout day and night. They are commercial sex workers in New Delhi’s biggest red light area, Garstin Bastion Road, popularly known as GB Road. But they are mothers first. Due to social distancing rules and a strict curfew, COVID-19 lockdown has united them with their sons and daughters for the first time in years, Rounak Kumar Gunjan writes.

 

Balanced approach: The overemphasis on individual events have complicated not only politics in Kashmir but also the crafting of a comprehensive strategy for conflict resolution. We, therefore, seem to lurch from reacting to one incident after another rather than following a well-thought-out path. It is often asked whether we are succeeding in Jammu and Kashmir. Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda writes that depending on whom you ask, you could get different replies. In my view, the more pertinent question is — what are the objectives and parameters against which success is being measured?

 

On Reel

Three days after a gas leak at a chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam killed 11 people and affected at least 1,000, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Sunday issued detailed guidelines for restarting industries after the lockdown and the precautions to be taken for the safety of the plants as well as the workers.



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Railways to Resume Passenger Train Services on 15 Routes From Tuesday, Online Bookings Start Today


Passenger trains will depart from New Delhi Railway Station and connect to 15 cities.

The services will resume initially with 15 pair of trains that will depart from New Delhi Railway Station and will be gradually expanded in the coming days, the Railways said.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 11, 2020, 1:22 AM IST

The Indian Railways will restart passenger train operations from May 12, 51 days after the services were halted to control the spread of the coronavirus. The services will resume initially with 15 pair of trains, or a total of 30 journeys, the national transporter said on Sunday.

Passenger trains will depart from New Delhi Railway Station and connect to Mumbai, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Howrah, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Jammu, Dibrugarh, Agartala, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Madgaon.

Booking for reservation in these trains will start at 4 pm on May 11 and will be available only on the IRCTC website. Ticket booking counters at railway stations will remain closed and no counter tickets (including platform tickets) will be issued.

Passengers will be to arrive at the station at least an hour before departure. Initially, the all air-conditioned services will begin on 15 Rajdhani routes and the fare would be equivalent to that of the super-fast train, officials said.

Unlike Shramik Specials, in which only 54 passengers were allowed instead of the regular 72, these trains will run on full capacity, but no concession in fare is likely to be allowed.

These tickets, officials say, would have details of the ‘dos and don’ts’ passengers need to follow — such as arriving at the station at least an hour in advance for screening and other coronavirus protocols, mandatory use of masks and use of the Aarogya Setu mobile app.

It will be mandatory for travellers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains. Officials also said there will be few stoppages during the journey.

The decision to restart services, on a very small scale, comes as India enters the last week of the third phase of the lockdown, and could be a test case for more widespread relaxations. Although Covid-19 cases are still increasing rapidly, the general inclination in the government seems to be towards a further relaxation so the country can move towards a gradual reopening.

The Railways said operations will be expanded gradually over the coming days and more special services on new routes will be announced.

This will be done based on the available coaches after 20,000 coaches are reserved for Covid-19 care centres and adequate number of coaches are reserved to enable operation of up to 300 trains daily as Shramik Special for stranded migrants.

Only passengers with valid confirmed tickets will be allowed to enter railway stations. These precautions have been taken to avoid crowding at stations.



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‘Consider 1st Week Test Run Period’: Post Vizag Tragedy, Govt Issues Rules to Reopen Industries After Lockdown


File photo of firefighters outside the LG Polymers in Vizag. (PTI)

The NDMA guidelines said while restarting a unit, the first week should be considered as the trial or test run period after ensuring all safety protocols.

  • News18.com Visakhapatnam
  • Last Updated: May 10, 2020, 12:30 PM IST

Three days after a gas leak at a chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam killed 11 people and affected at least 1,000, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Sunday issued detailed guidelines for restarting industries after the lockdown and the precautions to be taken for the safety of the plants as well as the workers.

In a communication to all states and union territories, the NDMA said: “Due to several weeks of lockdown and the closure of industrial units, it is possible that some of the operators might not have followed the established standard operating procedures. As a result, some of the manufacturing facilities, pipelines, valves may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk. The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials.”

The NDMA guidelines said while restarting a unit, the first week should be considered as the trial or test run period after ensuring all safety protocols.

Companies should not try to achieve high production targets. There should be 24-hour sanitisation of the factory premises, it said.

The factories need to maintain a sanitisation routine every two-three hours especially in the common areas that include lunch rooms and common tables which will have to be wiped clean with disinfectants after every single use, it added.

For accommodation, the NDMA said, sanitisation needs to be performed regularly to ensure worker safety and reduce the spread of contamination.

To minimise the risk, it is important that employees who work on specific equipment are sensitised and made aware of the need to identify abnormalities like strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding or other potentially hazardous signs which indicate the need for immediate maintenance or if required shutdown, it said.

At least 11 people lost their lives and about 1,000 others were exposed to a gas leak at a factory in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam on May 7.

The incident took place after it restarted operations when the government allowed industrial activities in certain sectors following several weeks of lockdown.

The lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days in a bid to combat the coronavirus threat. The lockdown was then extended till May 3 and again till May 17.



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From Dushyant to Om Prakash Valmiki, Poetry Depicts the Never-ending Struggle of ‘Invisible’ Poor


“Is sheher mein wo koi baraat ho ya vardaat, ab kisi bhi baat par khulti nahi hain khidkiyaan” (Be it a marriage procession or a tragic incident, windows in this city do not open for anything) – Dushyant Kumar.

Life, rather death, came a wretched, full circle for 15 migrant workers in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday. A special train carried their remains back home. Unavailability of this very train had forced them to sleep on railway tracks where they were mowed down by a freight carrier. But India has long moved on.

A day after the accident, the country’s top Twitter trend said #MeTooMigrant. What started as a way of standing together with workers in the Covid-19 lockdown, was soon hijacked by the privileged. Most used the hashtag to narrate how they had to leave their home towns for high paying jobs and education in colleges where migrants are given the task of sweeping floors and cleaning toilets.

Poet-lyricist Abdul Hayee, popularly known by his pen name Sahir Ludhianvi talked about this stark difference in India’s class system in 1964 when he wrote:

“Ye duniya do rangi hai,

Ek taraf se resham odhe, ek taraf se nangi hai,

Ek taraf andhi daulat ki paagal aish parasti,

Ek taraf jismoñ ki qeemat roti se bhi sasti,

Ek taraf hai Sonaagaachi, ek taraf Chaurangi hai,

Ye duniya do rangi hai”

(This world is double-faced,

One side covered with silk, the other naked,

On the one hand, the hedonism of blind wealth,

On the other, bodies sold cheaper than bread,

On the one hand lies Sonagachi, on the other Chowringee15,

This world is double-faced.)

One wouldn’t be surprised if not even one labourer used the trend to voice his or her concerns. How would they? A section of them are busy returning home after a 40-day-battle with hunger, joblessness, deplorable living conditions and a forced separation from family. The rest are still cooped up inside hostile camps — all in the midst of a global pandemic after the Centre imposed a sudden lockdown, leaving millions stranded.

Parallel to this, there is another India. One that comprises of the same lot that had joined the bandwagon last day to recount their ‘sorrowful’ tales of migration. City-dwellers conveniently forgot the very people who build their homes, lay their roads and clean their sewage. A legitimate excuse, they were toiling hard in romanticising the quarantine. Newly prepared dishes, buzz cuts, dance routines and everyday-changing social media trends have kept them rather occupied. The reporter writing this story also belongs to the group who enjoy abundance.

Revolutionary poet Athar Husain Rizvi better known as Kaifi Azmi, Bollywood actor Shabana Azmi’s father, captured the sentiment of how workers are left to rot in the dirt after their job is done in his poem ‘Makan’. He wrote about builders of a palace having to sleep in the dust, guarded out of their own creation.

“Ban gaya qasr to pahre pe koi baith gaya, so rahe ḳhaak pe ham shorish-e-tamir liye”

(After the palace was built, someone was appointed to guard it while we slept in the dust amid the bustle of construction)

Urdu writer Haidar Ali Jafri from Uttar Pradesh’s Balrampur also has a perfect reminder for India’s upper class in the form of his couplet.

“Khoon mazdoor ka milta jo na ta-ameeron mein, na haveli na mehel na koi ghar hota”

(If a labourer’s blood was not mixed with the rich, there would have been no mansions, palaces and homes)

However, it was again Sahir in 1964 who called out the rich for their innate tendencies to use and throw. Taj Mahal might be synonymous with love, but for him, it mirrored exploitation.

“Taj tere liye ek mazhar-e ulfat hi sahi,

Tujh ko is vaadi-e rangeeñ se aqeedat hi sahi,

Meri mahboob, kahiñ aur mila kar mujh se…”

(For you, the Taj may be the expression of love,

And you might be enamoured by its beautiful setting,

But my love, meet me elsewhere …)

“Meri mahboob, unheñ bhi to mohabbat hogi ,

Jin ki sannaa’i ne bakhshi hai ise shakl-e jameel,

Un ke pyaaroñ ke maqaabir rahe be naam-o numood,

Aaj tak un pe jalaayi na kisi ne qandeel”

(My beloved, they too must have loved passionately,

They, whose craft has gifted this monument its beautiful visage,

Their loved ones lie in unmarked graves,

Dark, forgotten, unvisited.)

On the other hand, it will be wrong to assume that India’s haves do not care at all. They do as much as their token empathy allows them. On March 22, a large proportion of the population came out for clapping and thaali-banging, supposedly in solidarity with doctors and health workers. Later, the same professionals were ostracised, attacked and thrown out of rented apartments by the very soldiers of unity.

Two weeks later, all lights inside houses were switched off at 9pm for 9 minutes. Millions stood at their balconies with diyas, candles and flash lights to express the same peppercorn sentiment.

However, workers and labourers were still missing from the narrative.

“Hone do charaghan mehlon mein, kya hum ko agar diwali hai,

Mazdoor hain hum, mazdoor hain hum, mazdoor ki duniya kaali hai…

(Let there be light in palaces, what have we got to do even if there’s Diwali,

We are labourers, we are labourers, our worlds are always dark)

Daulat ki seva karte hain thukrae hue ham daulat ke,

Mazdur hain hum, mazdoor hain hum sautele bete qismat ke”

(We work for the rich and are kept away from money,

We are labourers, we are labourers, we are abandoned step-sons of good fortune)

Urdu writer, Meer Kazim Ali famous as Jameel Mazhari born in Bihar’s Motihari portrayed how whatever happens in these abundant households, the life of a labourer will always be grim, in his poem ‘Mazdoor ki bansuri’ (A labourer’s flute).

The formal sector constitutes of merely 8 per cent of the entire work force. The remaining 92 per cent is the informal sector where many toil in the twilight zone for a pittance. It is surprising that the dependent Indian middle class still does not give due importance to its workers given the lockdown removed all forms of help it receives from them. Probably the security of having domestic helps, milkmen, drivers, washer men and others back became apathy’s crutch.

“Gareebi bohot zaruri hai,

Taaki ghar humare saaf rahein,farsh humare chamchamate,

Gareebi bohot zaruri hai,

Taaki bartan humare dhule chamakte rahein aur kapde safed,

Gareebi bohot zaruri hai,

Ki sandaas se humaare na aaye bas, aur kitchen se uthti rahein khushbuyein aur swaas,

Gareebi bohot zaruri hai,

Taaki bacche humaare nehlaaye, dhulaaye aur damakte rahein aur muh humaare jooton mein dikhte rahein,

Gareebi bohot zaruri hai”

(Poverty is very important,

So that our houses are clean and floors shining,

Poverty is very important,

So that our utensils are shiny clean and our clothes white,

Poverty is very important,

So that our toilets don’t stink and our kitchens smell of perfume,

Poverty is very important

So that our children are bathed and clean and our shoes are polished to reflect our faces,

Poverty is very important)

Actor, screen-writer Atul Tiwari wrote this after 500 slums were demolished in an anti-encroachment drive conducted by the Indian Railways in Delhi’s Shakur Basti on November 12, 2017. In the process, a six-month-old girl had died due to shock and injuries on chest and head due to impact of blunt force.

Meanwhile, it will be naive to assume that poverty arising out of migration has nothing to do with caste. According to the 64th round of the National Sample Survey, 22 per cent of the migrants are from OBC households and 19.3 per cent belong to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. This includes the skilled workforce. Experts believe that almost all unskilled and semi-skilled migrants belong to backward castes.

“Chulha mitti ka,

Mitti Talaab ki,

Talaab Thakur ka”

(The stove is made out of mud,

The mud is sourced from the lake,

The lake belongs to the upper-caste landlord)

“Bhukh roti ki,

Roti bajre ki,

Bajra khet ka,

Khet thakur ka”

((We have) a hunger for bread,

Bread made of pearl millet,

Pearl millet grown in the fields,

The field belongs to the upper-caste landlord)

“Bail Thakur ka,

Hal Thakur ka,

Hal ki mooth par hatheli apni,

Fasal thakur ka”

(The bull belongs to the upper-caste landlord,

The plough belongs to the upper-caste landlord,

The hands on the shaft of the plough are ours,

The harvest belongs to the upper-caste landlord)

“Kuan Thakur ka,

Pani Thakur ka,

Khet-khalihan Thakur ke,

Galli-muhalle Thakur ke,

Phir apna kya?

Gaon?

Shehar?

Desh?”

(The well belongs to the upper-caste landlord,

The water belongs to the upper-caste landlord,

The crops and the fields belong to the upper-caste landlord,

The lanes that run through these neighbourhoods belong to the upper-caste landlord,

Then what is ours?

The village?

The city?

The nation?)

Om Prakash Valmiki, one of the most celebrated contemporary Dalit writer and poet wrote this scathing account on caste-based division labour in his poem “Thakur ka kuan” (Thakur’s well).

Back in the present, News18 reported on how impatience is growing in camps where workers have not been able to return home. Added to this, now state governments have come up labour law dilutions that make work hours longer, lessen medical assistance and give industries the free-will to make labourers work in unregulated environments. Patience, even for the most oppressed, does come with an upper limit.

The anger against those who oppress the workers is evident in a large number of poems written by progressive Urdu writers, as in Viqar Ambalavi’s ‘Inteqaam’ (Revenge).

“Khaayein bhi mazdoor ka, mazdoor par ghurrayein bhi,

Din ko mehnat bhi karayein, raat ko rulvayein bhi,

Bhook se mazdoor ke bachche bhi bilkein maa-ein bhi,

Tuf hai saramaaya paraston par kahin mit jayein bhi,

Inteqaam, ai inteqaam, ai inteqaam, ai inteqaam”

(Not satisfied with appropriating the workers’ share, you growl at them too,

Not enough that you make them slave during the day, you make them weep at night too,

Not only do the workers’ children wail with hunger, their mothers cry too,

Damn you, O capitalism-lovers, may you perish,

Revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge)

During the time this article was being written, five migrant labourers were killed and 13 injured when a truck in which they were travelling in from Uttar Pradesh to Hyderabad turned turtle in Madhya Pradesh’s Narsinghpur district. Rest assured, India’s bourgeois will soon move on or may never come to know by the time they sleep off their Sunday insomnia.

“Bhookh hai toh sabr kar, roti nahi toh kya hua,

Aajkal Dilli mein hai zer-e-behes ye mudda”

(If you are hungry, be patient, so what if you have no bread?

These days hunger is a hot topic of debate in the Delhi Durbar)

These lines by one of the most quoted poet, Dushyant Kumar, are part of the same poem with which the story began. “Bhookh hai toh sabr kar” (If you are hungry, stay patient) was written in 1975 when times were not very different when compared to today.



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Fierce Face-off Between Indian, Chinese Troops Near Naku La in Sikkim Sector, Several Soldiers Injured


For representation: File photo of India China border.

The troops disengaged after dialogue at the local level, sources said.

  • CNN-News18 new delhi
  • Last Updated: May 10, 2020, 12:04 PM IST

Naku La in North Sikkim became the latest theater of confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops.

On Saturday, around 150 soldiers on both sides were involved in an aggressive confrontation that left four Indian soldiers and seven Chinese soldiers injured. Confirming the incident, the Army said, “Aggressive behaviour and minor injuries on both sides took place. It was disengaged after dialogue and interaction at local level.”

Naku La is a pass in North Sikkim located at a height of 5,000 metres. The confrontation took place when both Indian and Chinese troops were on regular patrolling.

This sector is not traditionally prone to face-offs between the Indian and Chinese armies that often clash at the LAC given the difference in perception of border limits.

In September 2019, a scuffle broke out between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the bank of the Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh but the matter was resolved through talks between the two militaries.

In one of the longest confrontations between the two sides, troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day face-off in Doklam from June 16, 2017, after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. The impasse ended on August 28.

India has since underlined the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility along the border with China as a prerequisite for “smooth” development of overall ties between the two countries.

(With PTI inputs)



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2 Indians Flown Back to Kerala from UAE Test Covid-19 Positive, Hours after State Says It Has Flattened The Curve


All incoming baggage were disinfected, before handing them over to the people. Among those who landed, pregnant ladies, those above 75 years of age and children below the age of 10 will be sent to their homes where they will be quarantined for 14 days. Passengers having underlying health issues will be moved to the hospitals for further treatment. (Image: News18 Kerala)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said 23,596 people were currently under observation at their homes, and 334 at different hospitals.

  • News18.com New Delhi
  • Last Updated: May 10, 2020, 12:00 AM IST

Kerala detected two more positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday — both airlifted by the Centre from abroad under its ‘Vande Bharat’ mission to bring back stranded Indians and expatriates in other countries — hours after the state declared it has flattened the coronavirus curve.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the new cases are “a warning to those coming back from abroad and for other states to be on the alert”. He also said there is a need to strengthen “our mitigation efforts and preventive measures”.

Kerala was among the first states in India to report the infection, but it has also earned praise for having effectively managed to tackle the crisis by being among the states with much higher recovery rates and much less outbreak so far.

For several days in the recent weeks, the state has reported either nil or just a few fresh cases. It has only 17 active cases now, while fatalities have been only three. Out of the total 505 infected so far, Kerala has till now cured 485.

Earlier on Saturday, the state said it has flattened the coronavirus curve.

“On the 100th day of confirmation of the first case of COVID-19, Kerala flattened the curve. We are bracing ourselves for the third wave,” Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said.

Vijayan on Friday had also said that Kerala has flattened the curve, but cautioned that the state needs to be careful to avoid another wave of the virus.

Vijayan on Saturday said the two fresh cases of coronavirus were foreign returnees who came back from Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on May 7.

“One patient from Idukki who was under treatment has been cured today. The two new cases are now under treatment in Kochi and Kozhikode. They reached on May 7 in the Abu Dhabi-Kochi and Dubai-Kozhikode flights, respectively,” he said. “There are 23,930 people under observation in the state out of which 334 are in isolation wards of various hospitals.”

Vijayan said 152 expatriates from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia had arrived at Kozhikode on Friday. Apart from 142 Keralites, there were eight from Karnataka and two from Tamil Nadu.

“There were 128 adults and 24 children, including 78 pregnant women. Of these, 114 were sent home and the rest were transferred to various Covid Care Centres,” Vijayan said.

He said another flight from Bahrain to Kochi arrived on Friday with 181 passengers, in which there were 25 pregnant women and 28 children under the age of 10.

Two Air India Express flights carrying 362 people from Oman and Kuwait arrived at the Cochin International Airport on Saturday night.

Vijayan also said a 14-day home quarantine for all Keralites returning from other states will be made compulsory.

“Kerala’s home quarantine protocol has been very effective. So top health expert B Iqbal suggested that in the present context, it would be best that those who arrive from within the country and have no symptoms be home-quarantined,” said Vijayan.

According to the state-owned Norka-Roots web portal, around 2,00,000 people have registered to return and a majority are from neighbouring states and Maharashtra. Those with symptoms would be tested and, if needed, be isolated in hospitals, said Vijayan, adding the PCR test would also be conducted.

Vijayan reiterated that entry passes are mandatory to enter Kerala through check-posts bordering the neigbouring states and those without it would be sent back.

“The pass is mandatory. Based on logistics and for crowd control, there is a limit on the number of people who can cross the border every day and passes are being issued according to that,” he said, adding there were some people who had reached the borders without the necessary documents and it was not acceptable.

Till now, 54,262 passes have been issued and 21,812 Keralites from other states have reached home through five border check-posts.

Vijayan also said special non-stop trains would be run from Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai to the state to bring back stranded residents. “We hope that the first train will be from Delhi to bring back stranded students there. The date will be announced soon,” he said.

Vijayan said health professionals were in regular touch with those in quarantines/isolation centres.

“All those in isolation have an app with them and can get in touch with health professionals through video call. If required, medicines will be supplied at the doorstep and person be shifted to the hospital,” he said.

(With inputs from agencies)



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PM Modi to Meet Chief Ministers Monday to Discuss Coronavirus Lockdown Exit Strategy


This will be PM Modi’s fifth meeting with chief ministers on the lockdown strategy.

Although Covid-19 cases are doubling at a faster pace at present, the general sentiment in the government seems to be towards a further relaxation.

  • News18.com New Delhi
  • Last Updated: May 10, 2020, 11:51 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with chief ministers on Monday to discuss the next stage in the exit from the nationwide lockdown enforced to contain novel coronavirus outbreak and various issues comprising the economy, officials said on Sunday.

The Prime Minister’s Office took to Twitter to share the information that he would hold the meeting via video-conference at 3 pm. This will be his fifth meeting with CMs to discuss post-lockdown strategy.

Although Covid-19 cases are doubling at a faster pace at present, the general sentiment in the government seems to be towards a further relaxation so the country can move towards a gradual un-lockdown.

Sources said the focus of the meeting will be on further increasing the economic activities and on tackling the pandemic in containment zones as the current lockdown is to end on May 17.

According to health ministry data, positive cases have increased from 39,980 on May 3 to 62,939 on Sunday and the number of deaths have increased week from 1,301 to 2,109.

The growth in cases has been linear and not exponential because of the lockdown, but the worry for the government remains that the restrictions have not managed to flatten the curve, unlike in other countries where lockdowns were imposed.

According to sources familiar with the matter, there will definitely be more concessions in terms of what’s allowed after May 17, but that there will likely be no changes for Covid-19 hotspots and containment zones.

The announcement of the meeting comes after Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting with Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of all states and Union Territories (UTs) to review their status of Covid-19 management.

At the meeting, the chief secretaries informed Gauba about the situation in their states and also said that while protection is required from the virus, economic activities also needed to be stepped up in a calibrated manner.

The lockdown, enforced on March 25, was originally supposed to end on April 14. It was extended to May 3, and then again to May 17, although many more relaxations have been given with the extensions.



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‘Labourers Walking Back Home Not Good Picture’: Raut Asks Maha Govt to Allow Private Vehicles to Ferry Them


Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday said the Maharashtra government should give permission to private vehicles for ferrying migrant labourers to their native places during the lockdown.

Raising concern over migrant workers setting off for their hometowns on foot, Raut said they were falling sick and some have also died.

“The labour class is walking back home, this is not a good picture. Their children are with them. Railways is not ready to operate trains for them. The state government should give permission to private vehicles to ply,” Raut tweeted.

“People are falling ill while walking. Some have died. Even then their walking hasn’t stopped,” the Rajya Sabha member further said.

Sixteen migrant workers sleeping on rail tracks while returning to Madhya Pradesh were crushed to death by a goods train in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra in the early hours of Friday.

The labourers, rendered jobless due to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, had set off for their homes on foot along the rail tracks apparently to escape police attention.

On March 28, four migrant labourers were crushed to death when a speeding tempo ran over them on Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway in Maharashtra’s Palghar district.



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Maha CM Uddhav Thackeray Set to Enter Legislative Council Unopposed after Cong Withdraws 1 Nominee


File photo of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said the party will field only one of the two nominees for the MLC elections, which means the Maha Vikas Aghadi of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress will have five nominees for as many seats.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 10, 2020, 11:42 PM IST

Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is set to enter the Legislative Council unopposed as the Congress on Sunday announced that it would withdraw one of its two nominees for the May 21 elections to nine seats.

State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said, “We have decided to field only one out of two nominees for the MLC elections, which means the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress) will have five nominees for as many seats (out of the total nine)”.

The announcement came hours after senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said Thackeray has conveyed the polls should be “unopposed” so that he can dedicate most of his time to the ongoing fight against coronavirus.

Thackeray, who is not a member of either Houses of the state legislature, is one of the nominees for the elections, which became necessary after terms of the sitting MLCs ended on April 24.

Later in the evening, Raut wrote on Twitter that he is grateful to Thorat and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan for their decision to remove one candidate from the election in the wake of the virus crisis in the state.

On Saturday evening, Thorat had tweeted that Rajkishore alias Papa Modi will be party’s second candidate besides Rajesh Rathod, a Jalna zilla parishad member whose name was announced from Delhi, adding that he was confident both will win.

As the Congress had earlier decided to field only one candidate for the May 21 elections, there were nine candidates in the fray for as many seats.

The Shiv Sena and NCP, other two ruling alliance partners, have so far announced two candidates each, while the opposition BJP has announced four candidates.

(With inputs from PTI)





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Maharashtra to Foot Travel Bill of Needy Migrant Labourers From CM Relief Fund


Migrant workers return to their villages amid the coronavirus lockdown. (Reuters)

People stuck in other parts of the country but want to return to Maharashtra would also be funded.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: May 10, 2020, 11:41 PM IST

The Maharashtra government on Sunday decided to bear the travel expenses of those migrant labourers who lacked resources but wanted to return to their home states amidst the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

A Government Order (GO) stated that the migrant labourers will have to register themselves with local police

and district collectors and complete the necessary health check up.

Once they are eligible as per the new norms for the travel, district collectors concerned will transfer the required amount to the Indian Railways, it said, adding that the necessary amount will be transferred from the CM’s Relief Fund.

People stuck in other parts of the country but want to return to Maharashtra should also follow the same procedure of getting registered with local authorities, who will receive the funds from the CM’s office to bear their travel expenses.



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