Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, on Wednesday appealed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a letter, to allow his government function independently in the state. The Aam Aadmi Party leader also accused the Centre of trying to run the Delhi administration through Lt. Governor.
As reported by PTI, Kejriwal mentioned in the letter the posting and transfers made by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and said the elected government must have a say in distribution of work to senior officials.
“In Delhi, Central government is trying to run government unconstitutionally through the Lt Governor. Let Delhi government function independently,” Kejriwal said.
The letter by Kejriwal came a day after both he and Jung took their ugly spat over appointment of bureaucrats, to President Pranab Mukherjee.
Kejriwal had met Mukherjee along with his deputy Manish Sisodia on Tuesday, complaining about the interference of Jung in the functioning of Delhi government.
Sisodia was reported by PTI as stating, “LG was functioning as if there is President’s Rule in the national capital and there is no elected government here.”
“Despite having a democratically elected government, he (LG) is bypassing the chief minister and ministers and issuing instructions to officers. He is even threatening them with transfers if they do not follow his orders. It is not good for democracy.”
“We told the President that we accepted LG’s decision to appoint acting Chief Secretary even without consulting us. But after that too, he has been appointing officers bypassing the elected government. He is even interfering in the appointments of secretaries and directly ordering them. Then where is democracy,” he added.
However as per news reports, the Lt Governor has maintained that he has the power to appoint and transfer the bureaucrats and none the actions taken by him has been “unconstitutional” as was being alleged by the AAP government.
To deal with the attack of locusts in the national capital, the Delhi government has issued an advisory for spraying pesticides, Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai said on Thursday.
Rai said in view of the increasing threat of locusts in north India, the Agriculture Department of the Delhi government will run awareness programmes to make the people and farmers of Delhi aware of this new threat.
“Also, the Delhi Government has issued advisory on spraying pesticides and its quantity,” Rai tweeted.
The circular was issued in order to prevent a probable attack in Delhi by a swarm of locusts, which are reportedly present in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“All concerned authorities are hereby advised to take preventive measures to control and eradicate the locusts to avoid devastating effect on standing agricultural and horticultural crops, vegetation, plants, gardens, orchard etc. in Delhi,” the circular said.
It directed that awareness programmes be organised for the public and farmers to prevent and control any such invasion by locusts in Delhi.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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)