Amid growing concerns over the reports of more than 100 persons from Punjab who have been missing in the Delhi-Haryana region since the Republic Day tractor rally, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday announced the helpline number 112 to report all such instances. 70 lawyers were also appointed by the state AG on his directive to provide free legal aid to the farmers facing cases in the national capital.
Promising all possible help to trace the missing persons, the Chief Minister said that his cabinet colleagues had met the Union Home Minister about the issue and he would personally take up the cases of these missing persons/farmers with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Our hearts are with those fighting for their rights at the Delhi borders,” said the Chief Minister, appealing to the people of Punjab to immediately dial 112 to report any case of a person who went missing during the tractor rally, even if no cases had been filed with regard to such persons so far.
“We will do everything possible to locate those who are missing. We are trying to get details and will ensure that they return to their homes,” said the Punjab CM during a virtual event attended by the sarpanch of various villages, who expressed concern over the issue. Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar urged the Chief Minister to help the farmers facing legal cases in the national capital, in response to which the latter said that he had already directed Advocate General Atul Nanda to arrange for legal aid.
Nanda later disclosed that he had arranged for as many as 70 lawyers to extend all help to the farmers against whom cases have been filed by the Delhi Police in the wake of the Republic Day violence.
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WEEKEND CURFEW IN DELHI AMID 17K NEW CASES; GYMS, MALLS, SPAS SHUT
In an attempt to curb the surge in Covid cases in the national capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced a weekend curfew along with other restrictions.
Malls, gyms, spas and auditoriums will be closed. Restaurants will be open for only takeaways and deliveries, not dining in. Cinema halls will be allowed to operate at 30% capacity. Only one weekly market will be allowed to open per day in a zone and crowd control will be maintained.
Essential services will not be affected during the weekend curfew, which includes weddings. Curfew passes would be provided to those attending weddings.
CM Kejriwal announced these restrictions at an online press conference a day after the capital recorded its highest single-day jump with 17,282 new Covid-19 cases.
The chief minister also said there was no shortage of hospital beds as over 5,000 were still available for Covid-19 patients. However, as part of efforts to increase beds on a large scale, he said that the Delhi Municipal Corporation (MCD)-run hospitals, Hindu Rao and Swami Dayanand, should be declared as fully Covid-19 hospitals. “This will lead to an increase of 900 beds for the treatment of patients in Delhi. There should be full cooperation and no politics on the matter. Delhi government will provide every possible help to the MCD hospitals, including funds,” Kejriwal said.
He further appealed to the Centre to increase the bed capacity and make 2,700 beds in Central government hospitals available for the treatment of Covid patients.
CM Kejriwal further directed officials to ensure adequate health infrastructure for the treatment of patients. “Our focus is increasing the bed capacity as much as possible. Government and private hospitals should aim towards linking more banquet halls and facilities, requires time-bound preparation plan.”
He also said no patient should be turned back from the hospitals and patients must be advised appropriate care based on their situation.
“We must issue an order to allow directing patients to our Covid Care Centres (CCCs) to make them feel safe and in the care of the doctors. More and more patients should be shifted to these centres to cater to very critical patients in the hospitals,” a statement quoted the Chief Minister.
He further said that all helpline numbers should remain functional 24×7 and directed hospitals to ensure an adequate flow of information on the real-time availability of beds.
“In the meeting, special focus was laid on the three-tier arrangement of health infrastructure in Delhi, of which first is home isolation, second is Covid Care Centres, and third is an increase in beds and facilities in hospitals in Delhi,” the statement added.
Regarding vaccinations, Kejriwal said that there was a shortage of Remdesivir injections in Delhi, and about 18,000 injections would be made available by April 18. “Realising the gravity of the situation, CM Arvind Kejriwal directed officials to prepare an action plan to ensure that there is no dearth and no stocking of injections at any facility in Delhi,” the statement read.
“Along with this, the current number of ambulances available with the Delhi government is 629, and the current response time is 14 minutes, with no refusals recorded,” it added.
HOSPITALS SCRAMBLE FOR BEDS AS DAILY COVID CASES CROSS 2L
India records highest single-day spike with more than 2 lakh fresh coronavirus cases; government likely to import oxygen to meet growing demand.
As India hit a record high with 2,00,739 new Covid-19 cases in a single day, hospitals were left jostling for beds and oxygen supplies.
At Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital (LNJP), one of the country’s largest Covid-only centres with more than 1,500 beds, patients were forced to share beds as the casualty ward overflowed, while bodies of the deceased lay outside the ward. Suresh Kumar, the hospital’s medical director, told a news agency that the hospital is overburdened and the fast-spreading new variants which escape Covid tests are only adding to the burden.
A similar situation was reported from a government hospital in Nagpur, which is in the worst-affected state of Maharashtra. Avinash Gawande, a hospital official, told Reuters, “We are a 900-bed hospital but there are about 60 patients waiting and we don’t have space for them.”
After oxygen supplies of oxygen ran short in states such as Gujarat, despite the country producing oxygen at full capacity for the last two days, India might have to turn to imports. The Union Health Ministry has stated that it is planning to import 50,000 metric tons, while Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries will supply 100 metric tonnes of additional oxygen to Maharashtra, informed a state minister.
In the last 24 hours, India also saw 1,038 deaths, which pushed the total number of deaths to 173,123. “If such conditions persist, the death toll will rise,” wrote the head of a medical body in Ahmedabad to the state’s chief minister in a letter.
The country’s caseload has increased to 1,40,74,564. The health ministry data showed that there are 14,71,877 active Covid cases in the country, while 1,24,29,564 patients have recovered from the deadly disease.
Maharashtra reported a total of 61,695 new Covid-19 infections and 349 deaths in the last 24 hours. With the new cases, the total number of infections in the state has risen to 36,39,855. As many as 53,335 patients were discharged on Thursday, taking the total recoveries to 29,59,056. The death toll has mounted to 59,153, while there are currently 6,20,060 active cases in the state.
In Delhi, as many as 16,699 new Covid-19 cases and 112 deaths were reported in 24 hours, taking the total number of infections in the national capital to 784,137. With more people succumbing to the virus, the death toll has risen to 11,652. A total of 13,014 patients were also discharged, pushing the total recoveries to 718,176.
Meanwhile, CM Arvind Kejriwal announced a weekend curfew in Delhi to tackle the record rise in cases over the past few weeks. Essential activities, including weddings which have been planned, will be allowed with curfew passes. Auditoriums, malls, gyms and spas will be shut down and cinema theatres will be allowed to run at a third of their capacity.
A total of 2,220 new positive cases of coronavirus and nine deaths were reported in Uttarakhand in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases rose to 1,16,244. As many as 613 fresh cases were reported in the Haridwar district alone, where the Kumbh Mela is still taking place, pushing the case tally to 19,575.
Meanwhile, with 22,439 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, Uttar Pradesh reported its highest-ever single-day spike. The viral disease also claimed as many as 114 lives in the state during the day.
West Bengal reported 6,769 fresh coronavirus cases, 2,387 recoveries and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Andhra Pradesh reported 5,086 new Covid-19 cases, 1,745 recoveries and 14 deaths. With the new infections, the overall caseload in the state has reached 942,135, while the death toll has mounted to 7,353. The total recoveries stand at 903,072 and active cases at 31,710.
As many as 7,987 fresh cases of Covid-19 reported in Tamil Nadu within 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to 962,935. Of the total cases, Chennai reported 2,558 infections. The state’s death toll mounted to 12,999 after 29 more people succumbed to the disease, while 4176 patients were discharged, taking the total recoveries to 8,91,839.
In Kerala, a total of 8,126 new Covid-19 cases and 20 deaths were reported. The test positivity rate was recorded at 13.34 percent. The total number of deaths in the state stands at 4,856. A total of 2,700 recoveries were also reported in the state in the past 24 hours.
MUMBAI COUPLE FALSELY CONVICTED IN QATAR DRUG CASE RETURNS HOME
Mumbai-based couple Oniba and Sharique Qureshi, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail in a drug case in Qatar in 2019, returned to the city on Thursday with their minor daughter.
An NCB official said that the couple landed at the Mumbai airport at 2.30 am. The couple had been cleared of all charges after it came to light that a relative planted narcotics in their bag without their knowledge.
The couple was arrested at Hamad International Airport in July 2019 after Qatari authorities recovered 4.1 kg of hashish in their bag. It later came to light that Sharique’s aunt, Tabassum Qureshi, had used them to transport the drugs. The trip had been sponsored by her, the official said.
At that time, while Sharique was employed with a Japanese company, Oniba had just learnt that she was pregnant. She delivered a girl, Aayat, in jail last February. The couple’s family members approached the Indian Government, asking it to intervene in the matter.
Following this, the anti-drugs probe agency got in touch with Qatar authorities and the family challenged the lower court order convicting the couple. Eventually, the couple was cleared of all charges.
Ceremonies and marriages to be held during the day in Haryana
In wake of a spurt in the Covid pandemic, the state government has come up with a certain set of guidelines and new directions. The government had already imposed the night curfew on 12 April 2021 and in continuation to it, it has been decided night ceremonies, Navratra programmes and marriages will take place during the day. Chief Minister Manohar Lal directed all the Deputy Commissioners that night-time ceremonies and Navratra programmes should be shifted to the day. The government has also issued directions around gathering at public places. According to new norms to control the fatal Covid-19, from now on not more than 200 people can gather in outdoor functions and not more than 50 in indoor functions. Similarly, not more than 20 people will be able to attend funerals.
“We also have to keep in mind as to what is unavoidable and what can be avoided. This time the Covid-19 spread has started from educational institutions so there is a need to be more vigilant, especially there. We also need to reduce crowding in public gatherings etc.,” said the Chief Minister. Due to the increasing number of Covid cases in the country and the state, we have to take strict precautions, he added.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT CENSURES KRK FOR COMMENTING ON BHAGNANI’S BUSINESSES
The Bombay High Court has censured Kamaal Rashid Khan alias KRK for his controversial and defamatory tweets against producer Vashu Bhagnani, his family, business, profession and projects
KRK has been stopped by the High Court from putting out any further tweets against Bhagnani and all his business interests till the pendency of the Rs 1 crore defamation suit filed by the veteran producer for ‘defamatory’, ‘slanderous’, and ‘distasteful’ statements as well as ‘patently false allegations on KRK’s Twitter and YouTube accounts.
As per the court order, an injunction has been issued, pending the final disposal of the suit, that prohibits “the defendant from publishing, circulating or repeating the allegations and tweets and/or making, publishing, circulating and/or communicating to the public any defamatory/slanderous comments and/or statements against the plaintiff and/or his family and/or his business, profession and/or his projects.”
“Social media is a very powerful tool which on many occasions is misused to defame reputed persons. Courts have time and again deprecated such misuse. This is yet another occasion where the Bombay High Court has passed an order restraining KRK from making slanderous and defamatory remarks against Vashu Bhagnani, his family members, his business, and his projects. This is the third court order against Khan in succession,” said Ameet Naik, Founder and Managing Partner of Naik Naik & Company. After hearing the matter at length, the court observed that the tweets are not criticism given by a film critic which is contrary to the defence of KRK and are serious defamatory and slanderous remarks.
CAPT AMARINDER LAUNCHES KEY MSME REFORMS
Chandigarh: Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh launched a fresh wave of reforms to further reduce the regulatory burden on MSMEs through rationalisation, digitalisation and decriminalisation of the regulatory landscape, thus enabling entrepreneurs to focus on expanding their operations in a predictable business environment during this Covid-19 pandemic. The reforms on removing imprisonment terms, building flexibility and reducing oversight in the labour rules, and pursuing a data-driven assessment of service delivery delays are all centred around making entrepreneurship easier in Punjab, said the Chief Minister.
Terming it the beginning of the state’s transformation journey, he said with these reforms, commitments had been set for future changes including rationalising trade license with shops and establishments act and removing imprisonment terms from 100 low-risk provisions in non-labour related rules. Besides, the Chief Minister announced that the number of labour registers will be reduced, requiring an entrepreneur to maintain from 60 to less than 14, and flexibility enhanced in hiring women employees. Discretionary powers of inspectors are being removed with regard to deductions related to the absence or leave which will be deduced from labour registers going forward. These changes will be incorporated in the new State Rules.
Further, to ensure timely delivery of key licenses and permits, as prescribed under the Transparency Act 2018, Government has begun a monthly data-driven assessment mechanism under the Chief Secretary to make sure not a single license or permit is delayed beyond the stipulated period. Going forward, it is also proposed to reduce the number of Pre-commissioning licenses & NOCs to start a business by at least 20% and the possibility of doing this entirely online being explored. Also, changes will be made in Land Use for starting new business and mechanisms will be developed for timely and hassle-free water, electricity and sewage connections. “These reforms are the start of a journey, and we hope to make Punjab a lighthouse State for MSME growth support,” he said, adding, “We have listened to entrepreneurs on the ground and we will continue to reduce the compliance burden to start, operate, and grow a business.”
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