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Delhi to Mumbai, cities brace for Monday traffic rush after 4 weeks of strict lockdown




Few vehicles are seen on a deserted road of Marine Drive during the nationwide lockdown on 15 April 2020 | Shashank Parade | PTI
Few vehicles are seen on a deserted road of Marine Drive during the nationwide lockdown on 15 April 2020 | Shashank Parade | PTI

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New Delhi: Major cities are gearing up to manage the sudden rush of vehicles expected on roads Monday when a partial relaxation of the nationwide lockdown kicks in after four weeks of stringent measures.

Lack of public transport and social distancing measures limiting the number of people in a car or on a two-wheeler are expected to add to the volumes of vehicles that will ply.

Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon have increased deployment of traffic personnel on roads, exit points and pickets, while Mumbai’s police are still keeping vigil to ensure a minimum number of people are on the roads, considering the growing number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra.

The Union home ministry on Wednesday had said that select public activities would be allowed across states from 20 April, while the rest of the nation will remain under lockdown till 3 May.

A fresh set of guidelines were also issued by the ministry which said that all harvesting and agricultural activities, transport of essential goods in cargos, construction activities with 30 per cent of the workforce, manufacturing and retail units, e-commerce, courier services, electricians, plumbers, will resume operations.

The government, however, said that “these activities will be operationalised based on strict compliance to existing lockdown guidelines”.

The ministry also said in case any area is added to the list of containment zones in the country, the relaxed guidelines will be suspended until the area is declared free of Covid-19.

Also read: Why a total lockdown of India after 14 April will be counter-productive

Increased traffic staff

Though the Delhi government announced there will be “no relaxation” in the curfew from Monday, traffic police have charted out a detailed plan to ensure no jams are reported either in the capital or from border areas.

According to Special commissioner of police (Traffic), Taj Hassan, there has been a sufficient deployment of personnel to manage the expected increase in traffic volume in all areas.

“A slight increase is expected so our men will be on ground to manage the situation. Till now we were covering most pickets, but now we will also start manning junctions. The deployment plan has already been made,” Hassan said.

“Changes in the plan will be made after seeing how Monday goes,” he added.

Gurgaon, which has offices of many multinational and IT firms, has also put together a detailed plan.

So far, only one entry and exit point at a police check-post was allowed. This will now be increased to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

“Till now … the pass of the driver was being duly checked by personnel and the vehicle was allowed to pass only after the personnel was convinced that the driver had a valid reason to be out at this time. But now, we have made multiple exit and entry points at those checkpoints, just like toll booths, to ensure that there are no long queues and traffic moves smoothly,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, East, Gurgoan, Chander Mohan said.

Also read: Transportation of goods in India comes to near halt amid nationwide lockdown

Hotspots Noida, Mumbai to stay in full lockdown

Since Noida falls under a Red Zone, a Covid-19 hotspot, traffic police do not expect much movement. Nevertheless, they have come up with a plan for Monday.

DCP Traffic (Noida), Rajesh. S told ThePrint they have made sufficient deployment of personnel at all border checkpoints.

“Only vehicles with essential goods and services will be allowed. There are no relaxations here in Noida as it falls under the Red Zone, but we are ready to take action against those who violate rules,” he said.

“Though there may be a slight increase in movement on roads, it will be nothing compared to normal times,” he added.

Apart from Noida, Mumbai, which is also a hotspot, has decided to not allow any relaxation in the lockdown either.

“In keeping with the lockdown directives of the central government, there is still no proposal as yet to relax the lockdown in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) area of Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Panvel,” a senior traffic police officer said.

“The Maharashtra government is awaiting further orders from the central government to relax the lockdown,” he added.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced there would be no relaxation of lockdown rules until 3 May. Further, he announced there would be no home delivery of newspapers by the vendors in the MMR and Pune.

Thackeray asked people to report cases, such as domestic violence, on the helpline number 100. He also announced helpline numbers for anyone seeking counselling.

Also read: No fixed list, decide what food & groceries you want exempt from lockdown, MHA tells states

Police given detailed briefing

Given the differing degrees of relaxation of lockdown rules, the Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and Mumbai police have given detailed briefings to personnel managing the traffic on the ground.

“We have told them (personnel) that even though there are partial relaxations, they do not have to be off guard and have to be stricter,” Mohan said.

“We have shown them the passes that the government is issuing and have told them that only drivers with those passes be allowed to pass and no one else,” he added.

Delhi Police also are holding regular briefings of their personnel.

“They have been briefed about the restrictions, relaxations and the guidelines of the MHA (home ministry). They have also been given a list of services that are allowed to operate, to ensure there is no confusion and they are not stopped,” a senior Delhi Police officer said.

“They have also been sensitised to care for the people in need and let all medical emergency vehicles pass, without any pass,” the officer added.

(With inputs from Haima Deshpande, Mumbai)

Also read: Classes to continue online until 3 May, no plan to advance summer break: HRD ministry


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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