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Home ministry issues guidelines for return to work

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A file photo of migrant labourers gathered at a bus stand in Jaipur | PTI
A file photo of migrant labourers gathered at a bus stand in Jaipur | PTI


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New Delhi: A day ahead of the reopening of the agriculture, industry and construction sectors in ‘Green Zones’ that are less affected by Covid-19, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued guidelines to states, spelling out the protocol for how workers are to be transported to work sites.

The workers currently housed in relief camps in various states will have to first register with local authorities, who will carry out skill-mapping to find their suitability for various kinds of work available in the district. Once skill-mapping is done, the workers wishing to return to their places of work will be screened by the district administration, and only those who don’t have any Covid-19 symptoms will be transported.

However, the home ministry guidelines make it clear that the movement of migrant workers outside the state or union territory where they are currently located is prohibited.

Lakhs of workers across India were left without livelihoods when the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus began on 25 March. While many were able to reach their villages, several others were left stranded in relief camps in different states.

This had led to growing concern in the government that if livelihood issues are not resolved, it could escalate into a law and order problem. As a result, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last Tuesday that select economic activities will be allowed to resume from 20 April in districts with no or low incidence of Covid-19 cases.

But in the absence of clarity from the Centre, states and district administrations were left grappling with logistical challenges of how and whom to transport to the work sites.


Also read: India’s next problem: Convincing frightened workers to return to the cities


Onus on states to ensure social distancing

The home ministry guidelines also put the onus on the state and district administrations to ensure that social distancing norms are followed by the workers during the journey by bus.

District administrations will also have to ensure that the buses used for transport are sanitised according to the guidelines framed by health authorities.

“The local authorities shall provide for food and water, etc. for the duration of their journey,” the fresh guidelines state.

Some states, like Punjab, have already issued their own guidelines that industries that want to start operating from Monday will have to adhere to. Punjab has said that any factory or industry which requires more than ten workers will have to arrange for their accommodation and food within the premises, or in nearby areas. They also state that industries will have to screen the workers daily, and provide sanitisers and masks.


Also read: India needs more discipline, better coordination between Modi and states till 3 May


 

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India

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

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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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