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Freebies galore in BJP manifesto for Hyderabad civic polls

Lokeswara Rao

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The BJP has released its manifesto for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls for which it has been campaigning aggressively this time. The BJP has announced free drinking water and tap connections for all households. The BJP manifesto has also promised free travel to women commuters in Metro and city buses; toilets for women every one km, and 15 women police per police stations for women’s safety. It also announced free power to all houses using less than 100 units per month and free power and loan facilities to those engaged in traditional occupations in Hyderabad.

The party also promised free tablets to all children from poor families and quality Wi-Fi connections to enable students to access online education. A sum of Rs 25,000 will be given to each flood-affected family in the Greater Hyderabad area and families who already received Rs 10,000 compensation from the state will get Rs 15,000, it further said.

The party promised to waive property tax in all SC colonies and slum areas and permission to construct houses in plots less than 125 sq. yds. The municipality will provide financial assistance to build one lakh houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) for the poor in the Greater Hyderabad region, it stated.

The BJP manifesto also promised rejuvenation of Musi river and development of Musi river front. It has claimed it will free nalas and tanks from all kinds of encroachments and also allot Rs 10,000 crore for the modernisation of open nalas and drainages. A new Act, the Sumedha Act, will be enacted to remove all encroachments in memory of 10-year-old Sumedha who was washed away in a nala earlier this year, the manifesto stated.

Covid-19 vaccine will be administered and tests conducted for all as per Central government stipulations, it said, adding, exclusive PHCs will be set up in consonance with the population of the Greater Hyderabad areas. The BJP also said that it will scrap the layout regularisation scheme (LRS) which will redeem the people of Greater Hyderabad from the Rs 15,000 crore burden of LRS.

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Need for maintaining caution to overcome pandemic: Home Secretary to states, UTs

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): After extending COVID-19 guidelines till March 31, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Friday wrote to all states and Union Territories and said there is a need for maintaining caution and strict surveillance to fully overcome the pandemic.
Urging the officials to ensure the compliance of the guidelines, Bhalla said, “All activities have been permitted, subject to following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), issued by respective administrative Ministry and Department as well as the SOPs which are to be issued by the States and UTs.”
He further reiterated that there shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries.
“As you are aware, the number of active and new cases in the country has substantially declined over the last few months. However, there is need for maintaining caution and strict surveillance so as to fully overcome the pandemic,” the official added. (ANI)

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Jharkhand budget to be presented on March 3

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Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India], February 27 (ANI): The Budget session of the Jharkhand assembly started on Friday with an inaugural address by Governor Draupadi Murmu.
The session will continue till March 23 and the budget will be presented on March 3.
The Opposition in the state blamed that the government has made lots of false promises. The ruling party claimed that the budget is progressive and pro-people.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren claimed that this budget is realistic and opposition should realise this. (ANI)

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Four arrested for killing transgender in Mumbai

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 27 (ANI): Four people have been arrested for the brutal murder of a transgender in Mumbai, Vishal Thakur, Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone-11, informed on Friday.
The transgender was stabbed to death with a sharp-edged weapon in the Goregaon west area on Thursday and a case has been registered at the Bangur Nagar Police Station.
“A transgender person was brutally murdered on February 24 on the side of the road. Police personnel immediately reached the scene and took the body to the hospital. Post mortem revealed that the transgender was stabbed with a hammer or a sharp object,” Thakur told reporters.
“We arrested four persons who later confessed to the crime. It was revealed that they had tried killing the victim three to four times earlier over personal enmity but did not succeed. A case has been registered against them,” he added.
The culprits were arrested from the Palghar district and worked as daily wage labourers, the DCP added. (ANI)

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Fire breaks out at factory in Delhi’s Pratap Nagar

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): Fire broke out at a factory in the Pratap Nagar area of Delhi on Saturday morning.

Fire tenders reached the spot and fire fighting operations are underway.

More details are awaited. (ANI)

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PM Modi to inaugurate India Toy Fair today

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the India Toy Fair 2021 on Saturday at 11 AM via video conferencing.
“Toys play a significant part in the development of a child’s mind and also help improve psychomotor and cognitive skills in children. In his Mann ki Baat address in August 2020, the Prime Minister had said that toys not only augment activity, but also give flight to aspirations,” read the press release by Prime Minister’s Office.
Noting the importance of toys in the holistic development of a child, the Prime Minister has earlier also emphasized boosting toy manufacturing in India. The India Toy Fair 2021 is being organized in line with this vision of the Prime Minister.
The Fair will be held from February 27 to March 2, 2021. It aims to bring together all stakeholders including buyers, sellers, students, teachers, designers etc. on a virtual platform to create sustainable linkages and encourage dialogue for the overall development of the industry.
Through this platform, the Government and the Industry shall come together to discuss how India can be made the next global hub for manufacturing and sourcing of toys by way of attracting investments in the sector and promoting exports.
Over 1000 exhibitors from across 30 States and Union Territories will display their products in e-commerce enabled virtual exhibition. It will showcase traditional Indian toys as well as modern toys including electronic toys, plush toys, puzzles and games.
The fair will also host numerous webinars and panel discussions with eminent Indian and international speakers with proven capabilities in toy design and manufacturing. For children, it is an opportunity to participate in a plethora of activities, including craft demonstrations on traditional toy-making and virtual visits to toy museums and factories. (ANI)

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Implementing one-way customer traffic at retail stores can dramatically reduce COVID transmission: Study

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): Researchers in a study suggests that implementing one-way customer traffic at retail stores can dramatically reduce COVID-19 transmission. The study was conducted by Robert A. Shumsky, Laurens Debo, Rebecca M. Lebeaux, Quang P. Nguyen and Anne G. Hoen.
The study was published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“To reduce the transmission of COVID-19, many retail stores use one-way aisles, while local governments enforce occupancy limits or require “safe shopping” times for vulnerable groups,” read the study.
To assess the value of these interventions, the study formulates and analyzes a mathematical model of customer flow and COVID-19 transmission. The study finds find that the value of specific operational changes depends on how the virus is transmitted, through close contact or suspended aerosols. If the transmission is primarily due to close contact, then restricting customers to one-way movement can dramatically reduce transmission. Other interventions, such as reductions in customer density, are effective at a distance but confront store operators with trade-offs between infection rates and customer flow.
The study examines how operational changes in customer flows in retail stores affect the rate of COVID-19 transmission. They combine a model of customer movement with two models of disease transmission: direct exposure when two customers are in close proximity and wake exposure when one customer is in the airflow behind another customer.
They find that the effectiveness of some operational interventions is sensitive to the primary mode of transmission. Restricting customer flow to one-way movement is highly effective if direct exposure is the dominant mode of transmission. In particular, the rate of direct transmission under full compliance with one-way movement is less than one-third of the rate under two-way movement.
Directing customers to follow the one-way flow, however, is not effective if wake exposure dominates. The study finds that two other interventions–reducing the speed variance of customers and throughput control–can be effective whether direct or wake transmission is dominant.
The study also examines the trade-off between customer throughput and the risk of infection to customers, and the study shows how the optimal throughput rate drops rapidly as the population prevalence rises.
By integrating knowledge about virology, epidemiology, and the physical flow of customers in retail stores, the study develops and analyze a model that connects the biology of COVID-19 with operational interventions to reduce the spread of the disease. The model calculates the disease transmission rate in a retail environment and determines how the rate depends on the customer flow policy (one-way versus two-way), the travel speed distribution, and store size. The study find that one-way restrictions are useful for reducing direct transmission but have no effect on wake transmission. Eliminating speed variability can reduce or even eliminate direct transmission when traffic is one-way but can only reduce (but not eliminate) transmission in two-way traffic. Finally, the study shows that the optimal admission rate to a store falls as the disease prevalence rises and the ratio of profit to infection cost falls.
The study also calibrates our model using published epidemiological data. For a medium-sized retailer in an area with a relatively high prevalence of COVID-19, our model predicts a total transmission rate (via direct and wake exposure) of 0.33 infections per day. Complete customer compliance with one-way flow reduces the direct transmission rate by 70%, while the partial compliance observed in one store reduces the transmission rate by 11 per cent. The study also compares the impact of direct and wake transmission by first defining a ratio between the wake and direct transmission probabilities for a single encounter between an infectious and a susceptible customer. Given two-way traffic, if this ratio is 200%200% or more, then wake exposure dominates direct exposure in its contribution to virus transmission. When retailers can control customer throughput, the optimal throughput drops significantly as COVID-19 prevalence increases up to 1%. Because estimates of some parameters vary substantially from region to region and will change over time, the study conduct sensitivity analysis to assess the robustness of our findings.
The study discusses some of our modeling assumptions and possible extensions. In the model of customer flow, the study ignores variation in both the speed and path of each customer, e.g., stopping to examine and pick products off shelves. Adding this additional variability would increase the number of customer interactions and direct exposure, although quantifying its impact and understanding the impact on wake exposure would require a more complex analytical model and/or simulation. The study also assumes Poisson arrivals, a reasonable assumption during short periods in many retail areas, but not a reasonable assumption in other contexts such as school hallways, where a fluid model may be more appropriate.
In addition, the study assumes that wake exposure ends as soon as an infectious customer leaves the area. This is a simplification, for infectious aerosols may remain in the air after customers depart (20). If the area is large, however, and if customers spend a significant amount of time on their journey, then the impact of edge effects when customers leave the area is small. For the numerical experiments described above, these edge effects are not significant.
Our model focuses on customer movement through store aisles and ignores interactions among customers and employees. Front-line workers for essential retailers, in particular, can face a high risk of exposure (47). Cashiers, for example, face both direct and wake exposure in checkout areas. Many stores now enforce social distancing standards around these areas and provide guidance such as floor stickers to indicate spacing between customers. While this can nearly eliminate direct exposure, wake exposure would be a concern around checkout areas. Incorporating a queuing model that includes customer movement and airflow may be a useful extension.
The specific infection rates predicted by our model depend upon many environmental variables, including ventilation systems and the proportion of customers who use masks. Given this uncertainty, the model highlights where gaps in the scientific knowledge of COVID-19 transmission need to be filled so that the study may redesign service operations to reduce spread. In particular, the effectiveness of these interventions is highly dependent on whether the virus is transmitted through heavy droplets or aerosols. In addition, the model may be adapted to analyze COVID-19 transmission in other service settings such as restaurants, airplanes (supplement to ref. 48), and hotels in which customer flow can be regulated. (ANI)

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