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Aam Aadmi Party may not table Jan Lokpal Bill in the Budget Session of Delhi Assembly

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Supporters of AAP at a rally, Ramlila Maidan.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing  the special session of Delhi assembly on (IANS)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing the special session of Delhi assembly on (IANS)

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi may not be able to table the Jan Lokpal Bill in next month’s Budget Session as it wants the Centre to whet its anti-graft Bill before it is tabled in the assembly.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal led government, which in its previous 49-day tenure had resigned over the failure to get the Bill passed in the Delhi Assembly last year, does not want to “rush” this time .

“We don’t want to rush this time. We will send the draft (of the bill) to the Centre first. Some changes have been made to the draft presented in 2014,” a Delhi government official informed.

Kejriwal had resigned last February when both the Congress and the BJP had opposed the tabling of the Bill, terming it “unconstitutional” as it was not vetted by the Centre.

“Procedurally, the draft of the Bill will be sent to the Lt. Governor, who will pass it on to the Home Ministry. The Home Ministry will seek the opinion of the law ministry,” another official told, requesting anonymity.

“And, if the Home Ministry finds it okay or suggests changes, it will send it back tothe LG, who will give the government the go-ahead to introduce the legislation,” he added.

According to sources, the draft of the Bill is on the lines of Uttarakhand’s Lokayukta Bill.

It will give the Delhi Lokpal the power to prosecute even the Chief Minister and ensure that the trial is completed within six months.

However, Constitutional experts have argued that the proposed law is in conflict with the central Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act passed by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2013. (IANS)

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National Capital Delhi Makes a Gradual Comeback

The city of Delhi has slowly and gradually reopened

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Shutters are lifted and shops spruced up as Delhi's markets open after two months as lockdown restrictions are eased. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

Signs are being spruced up and prayers performed as shops in the Indian capital open their shutters after two months with the gradual easing of a stringent lockdown.

Markets were allowed to reopen recently after the government signaled economic activity must resume, even as the fight against the COVID -19 pandemic continues. Traffic is humming on once-deserted streets as buses and auto rickshaws have been given the go-ahead to operate.

However, people in the city of nearly 20 million — one of the worst-hit in the country — remain hesitant about venturing out as cases of coronavirus touched record highs in recent days.

Shop owners, hoping to slowly emerge from the economic pain imposed by a weekslong shutdown, have instituted new rules to cope with the pandemic.

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Though markets are open, they are seeing few customers as people remain wary amid the COVID 19 pandemic. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

“We’ve restricted it to three people at a time for browsing, and then we have new checks and measures in place where we first check the person’s temperature, we give them hand sanitizer and we have started giving everyone a pair of gloves as well,” said Rajni Malhotra, owner of Bahrisons Booksellers, a 65-year-old landmark in one of the city’s most iconic markets.

The city is only partially open — shopping malls, restaurants, schools and colleges still remain closed and offices can only have limited staff.  Even in markets that have opened, only half the shops open every day to avoid crowding. Delhi accounts for about 10% of India’s infections.

“We have a twofold challenge — to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to the country two weeks ago. “Coronavirus is going to be part of our lives for a long time. But we can’t let our lives revolve around it,” he said.

Shop owners even sanitize customers’ purchases to reassure people still wary of entering markets. Among those that sold some goods is a store that sells kitchen equipment — in Delhi, like much of the world, cooking and baking have been therapy for some of those confined indoors.

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A customer turns up to buy baking tins — in Delhi, like much of the world, cooking and baking has been a therapy for people confined indoors. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

However, a sense of unease remains as once-buzzing markets see only a sprinkling of customers, who mostly visit shops selling groceries and other essentials.

“There is this feeling that complete your work fast and then return home,” said Aparajita Pant, a city resident who had come to buy food for her pets.

“Earlier one would like to linger around, there are so many interesting shops here but as of now, there is that cautious approach, at least in me,” she said.

That is not good news for some shop owners. Not a single person had walked into Leena Mehra’s shop selling handicrafts and silver jewelry during the first two days.

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Most customers head to shops selling essentials like groceries and medicines. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

“It’s depressing. We have to open the shop, we don’t have any choice,” she said.

“We know it is difficult for us to sell this product to the consumer because right now the mindset of the people is not at all in this direction, but we will try,” she said.

The pandemic has left its mark on a city whose love for shopping and being well turned out made it a retailers’ paradise.

“One would take more efforts to get maybe a little better dressed, but now you come here, avoid jewelry, avoid wearing even a watch, I am not even wearing my earrings,” Pant said ruefully.

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Shops display signs asking people to wear masks and take precautions as new rules are put in place to cope with the COVID 19 pandemic. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

Even budget accessories and clothes being sold from small stalls tucked in the market’s narrow lanes have few takers. That is disappointing for low-income workers who say they desperately need to start earning again.

“Everybody needs money. If customers don’t come and this atmosphere persists, it will not be easy to face the problem created by this pandemic,” said a despondent Lucky Arya, as he helped set up a stall to sell summer clothes.

The wait for customers is also long for auto rickshaw drivers waiting on sidewalks.

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Auto rickshaw drivers don’t see too many customers as most people still hesitate to venture outside. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
 A once-familiar sight as they skillfully negotiated their way through Delhi’s often chaotic traffic, they too have been scarred by the pandemic because of new rules allowing only one passenger instead of the customary two to ensure social distancing.

Also Read: COVID-19 Makes it Difficult to Manage Cancer Care: Oncologist

Mohammad Parvez Khan decided to brave the city’s sizzling summer temperatures to ply his auto rickshaw even during Ramadan because his savings were running out.

“Only we know how we passed these last two months,” he said.

“Every day, when I fasted, I prayed that let the coronavirus go quickly, and may everything come back to how it used to be,” he said. (VOA)

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“We Have to Learn to Live With COVID-19”, Says Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain

Initially it was believed that the coronavirus will die with the rise in temprature, but it didn't

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Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain says that we need to learn to live with COVID-19. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday said while earlier it was believed that the coronavirus will die with the rise in mercury, but even in countries with very high temperature the infection is increasing and this shows that we have to learn to live with COVID-19.

Speaking to the media, Jain said while the cases are increasing, the rate of increase is just five per cent.

“There was a time when we all thought that this pandemic will be over by May 1 due to the summer. But now we have seen that in the Latin American countries also the pandemic is increasing. The temperature of these countries is very high. This shows that we have to learn to live with COVID-19,” Jain said.

He also said that in the last two months, in the lockdown, we have learned various lessons from the COVID-19.

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“If we wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash hands regularly then people will be 90-95 per cent safer,” he said. Pixabay

“If we wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash hands regularly then people will be 90-95 per cent safer,” he said.

Jain said on Thursday, India’s growth rate of COVID was five per cent and earlier there was a time when the growth rate was 20 per cent. “I believe that the numbers should be seen in terms of the percentage increase.”

He said the new cases in Delhi are coming from the containment zones as well as from outside the containment zones.

“We have received various suggestions from the residents of Delhi and based on those we have sent our suggestions to the central government regarding the relaxation of the lockdown. The key suggestions from the people are that every person should wear a mask in public place and social distancing should be maintained all the time. People have also suggested that public transportation should start for example, buses and metros with limited capacity.”

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“People have also suggested that public transportation should start for example, buses and metros with limited capacity.”, tells Jain. Wikimedia Commons

Regarding the malls, he said people have suggested that in the limited capacity of either 25 per cent or 50 per cent the malls of the city should be opened. They have also suggested that the markets should be opened following either odd-even rules or only three days a week.

Read More: WhatsApp Launches Campaign to Reduce Spread of Fake News Amid COVID-19

“The Delhi government believes that there should be a balance between the fight against COVID and economic activities. We are fighting against the COVID-19 with full effort, but now we have to start the economic activities, therefore, the measures should be followed. When the lockdown was imposed at that time we were not prepared to fight this pandemic, but now we are prepared to fight this pandemic.”

Regarding the issue of the migrant labourers, Jain said there are two kinds of people.

“One is the migrant labourer of Delhi and the second is the migrant labourer of other states who are passing through Delhi. For the migrants, the government has arranged stay and food across Delhi. Any such person you meet can be sent to the nearby shelter of the Delhi government. We are providing lunch and dinner to nearly 10 lakh poor people every day.” (IANS)

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Centre to Provide Rs 2,500 Crore EPF Support for Workers: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced Rs 2,500 crore EPF support for businesses, workers

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs 2,500 crore EPF support for workers. Wikimedia Commons

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday that the Centre will provide Rs 2,500 crore EPF support for businesses, workers for three more months.

The scheme was provided earlier for the salary months of March, April and May. Consequently, this support will be extended by another three months for the salary months of June, July and August.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP), the Finance Minister said that payment of 12 per cent of employer and 12 per cent of employee contributions was made into the EPF accounts of the eligible establishments.

The scheme will provide liquidity relief of Rs 2,500 crore to 3.67 lakh establishments, benefitting 72.22 lakh employees.

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Finance Minister said that payment of 12 per cent of employer and 12 per cent of employee contributions was made into the EPF accounts of the eligible establishments. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando). Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, the minister announced that statutory PF contribution of both employer and employee has been reduced to 10 per cent from the existing 12 per cent across all establishments covered by the EPFO for the next three months.

Read More: Covid-19: Liquor Prices Hiked Up to 35% in Kerala

CPSEs and state PSUs will, however, continue to contribute 12 per cent as employer contribution.

The scheme for lower EPF contribution will be applicable to workers who are not eligible for 24 per cent EPF support under the PM Garib Kalyan Package and its extension.

This scheme is estimated to provide relief to about 6.5 lakh establishments covered under the EPFO and benefit about 4.3 crore such employees. It will provide liquidity of Rs 6,750 crore to employers and employees over three months. (IANS)