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Government issues SOPs for domestic flight operations from Monday

Arun Dhanta and Aishvarya Jain

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A day after announcing resumption of domestic flights from 25 May, the Union Aviation Ministry has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent the spread of coronavirus. New rules have made physical distancing, the Aarogya Setu app on mobiles, and thermal screening compulsory for passengers entering airports.

Addressing a press conference, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that quarantine for domestic flight passengers might not be required. According to the new SOPs issued by the ministry, passengers have to be thermal screened and must have Aarogya Setu on their mobiles, except children below 14.

If they don’t show “green” or do not have the government contact tracing app, they will not be allowed entry. Face masks and hand sanitisers will also be compulsory. Hand sanitiser containers of up to 350ml will be allowed in hand baggage. No physical check-in at airport counters would be done. Only those passengers with confirmed web check-in shall be allowed to enter the airport.

“A passenger will require to wear protective gear, face mask & carry sanitizer bottle. Airlines shall not provide meal on board. Water bottles will be made available in gallery area or on seats,” said Hardeep Puri. He also added, “The cabin crew will be required to be in full protective gear. Only one check-in bag will be allowed. Passengers should report before at least 2 hours before departure time. Fares will be regulated and will be in a fixed range.”

Currently the routes have been divided into 7 sections. One section flight duration will be less than 40 min, second section of 40-60 min. Third segment 60-90 min, fourth segment 90-120 min, fifth segment 120-150 min, sixth segment 150-180 min, and seventh segment 180-210 min. Fares will be regulated and fares will be fixed on the basis of flight duration.

The minister also added that for operations from metro to non-metro cities and vice-versa, where weekly departures are greater than 100, the government allows onethird of approved summer schedule capacity. For operation from metro to non-metro cities and vice versa where weekly departures are less than 100, airlines are free to operate any routes of the 1/3rd capacity of approved summer capacity 2020.

For all other cities, airlines are free to operate any routes of the approved summer capacity 2020. As per the ministry, this is the first stage of resumption of domestic flights and later looking at the situation more flights and airports will be opened. Puri also emphasised PM Narendra Modi’s “Jaan Hai Toh Jahan Hai” slogan and said: “The time has come for us to open up and strike a balance between life and livelihood.”

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Bank licences to corporates a ‘bad idea’: Rajan

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New Delhi: Days after an Internal Working Group (IWG) of Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) recommended allowing large Indian corporates to enter the banking sector, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Deputy Governor Viral Acharya have hit back at the suggestion and questioned the timing for it. Terming the recommendation as a “bombshell”, in a blogpost, they said that although several recommendations of the report are worth adopting the one to allow corporate houses into banking should not be taken up. “To the contrary, it is even more important today to stick to the tried and tested limits on corporate involvement in banking,” said the article.

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Foreign Secretary to visit Nepal on 26 November

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Kathmandu: Resuming the high-level visit and exchanges with Nepal, India is sending its top diplomat to Kathmandu on 26 November. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will pay an official visit to the Himalayan country on November 26-27, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Monday. The announcement was made in New Delhi too. The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two neighbours and the priority India attaches to its relations with Nepal, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in its statement. Shringla’s visit comes after two back-to-back high-level visits from new Delhi by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (November) and Research and Analysis Wing head Samant Goel (October).

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Market opens higher, Sensex hits fresh high

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Mumbai: The key Indian equity indices opened in the green on Monday with the BSE Sensex touching a new record high within just minutes into the trade. Healthy buying was witnessed in metal, energy and oil and gas stocks. Sensex touched an all-time high of 44,271.15 points. The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 12,930.85, higher by 71.80 points or 0.56 per cent from its previous close.

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Covid-19: Vibrant Gujarat summit may be postponed

Abhijit Bhatt

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The biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, organised by the Gujarat government to attract investors, is unlikely to be held this year, due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in Gujarat. The summit, considered the foremost among all industrial summits of Gujarat, may be postponed till January 2021.

A senior Gujarat government official told The Daily Guardian that Vibrant Gujarat would be held in the first or second week of January. However, given the pandemic situation at the moment, it is difficult to say whether the summit will take place in just a month and half’s time for sure. However, an official decision is yet to be taken. No announcements have been made about cancelling the January event.

Narendra Modi started the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2003 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat to attract foreign investors to the state.

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Military storage bunkers spotted in Chinese village near Doklam

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NEW DELHI: China’s new villages close to the Line of Actual Control, meant ostensibly for settling civilians from far-flung areas close to the border, are part of strategy to enhance its military infrastructure in the area, top sources said.

One such village has also come up near Doklam where military storage facilities have been observed, as per intelligence reports. Construction of the new hardened bunkers appears to be an effort at militarily reinforcing the larger Doklam region, the source said.

There are dozens of similar settlements along the LAC, most of them coming up in areas facing Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Part of their integrated model villages that the Chinese intend to put to dual use – for civil and military purposes, some villages however remain uninhabited and are only turning out to increase military infrastructure to cater to additional deployment of the People’s Liberation Army.

Shelters have also come up at Bumdro which is opposite Kameng. Six to seven concrete huts have been constructed at Bumdro near Domsongrong to accommodate PLA personnel during their patrolling activity in Mera La, Thag La and Yangtse Area.

China has also constructed a road from Tirkangto Shivung La. The work was being undertaken from uphill side of Tirkang village in the south west direction towards Shiyung La.

IANS

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Farmers’ union refuses to budge, Punjab CM expresses concern

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CM Captain Amarinder Singh.

Expressing serious concern over the decision of one farmers’ union not to allow passenger trains to ply till the Centre accedes to their demands on the issue of farm laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said this would put the people to major inconvenience and could have grave consequences for the state.

Reacting to the announcement of Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) that they would not budge on their rail blockade of passenger trains till the farm laws’ issue is resolved, the Chief Minister said that, by striking this discordant note, the union was acting against the interests of Punjab and its people.

When all the other 31 farmers’ organisations had decided unanimously to withdraw from the tracks to allow both goods and passenger trains to move in the state for the next 15 days, this one union’s decision was not understandable, said Captain Amarinder, adding that this would alienate Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) from the people.

He cautioned the Committee against taking such a harsh stand, which could lead to them losing the support of the masses, who had so far wholeheartedly backed the farmers’ agitation against the farm laws. “When the state government and every person in Punjab has been extending their full support to the farmers, why is this Union taking a stance against their own state?” he asked.

Given that both the Centre and the other farmers’ unions had taken conciliatory steps to resolve the crisis triggered by the agricultural laws, the Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) should not do anything to derail the process of negotiation and discussion, he added. It was in the interest of all, including the farmers themselves, to find a solution to the problems unleashed by the central laws, on which every section of Punjab’s populace, as well as his government, was standing shoulder to shoulder with the farming community, said the Chief Minister.

The message that was emanating from the stand of the Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) was that the union was not really interested in breaking the stalemate on the farm laws issue, Captain Amarinder said. In any case, said the Chief Minister, blocking a one-odd track would serve no purpose even for the Committee, which, incidentally, had chosen to stay away from the meeting convened by him on Saturday to urge the farm unions to lift their blockade.

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