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Naidu says Modi and Kejriwal should not become political enemies

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should not become “enemy” in politics, union Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday.

“…we need to respect people’s mandate to Modi and Kejriwal and should not become enemies in the politics, but instead focus on development,” Naidu said at the launch of ‘Swachh Delhi Abhiyan’, a campaign for cleaner Delhi.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign here, Kejriwal and Naidu stressed on mutual cooperation between the central government and the Delhi government for better results of the campaign.

On the occasion, Naidu gave away a cheque of Rs.96 crore to the Delhi government, which is intended to be spent on the cleanliness in the city.

Kejriwal said there had been a “lack of political intention” on the issue of cleaning the city.

“We will form an autonomous institution for the Yamuna cleaning, which will have all the powers to address the need. All efforts will be made jointly to fight Delhi’s garbage,” the chief minister said.

Also present on the occasion were the mayors of North, East and South Delhi Municipal Corporations.

Earlier on Monday, Kejriwal launched ‘Swachh Delhi’ app that enables residents to apprise authorities with pictures of garbage, while announcing Swachh Delhi Abhiyan from November 22 to 30.

(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.

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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.

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“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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Air India Shuts Delhi Based HQ as Employee Tests Corona Positive

The headquarters will remain shut for 2 days

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Air India headquarters in Delhi will remain shut for 2 days as an emplyee was tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus. Wikimedia Commons

National carrier Air India on Tuesday shut its national capital-based headquarters, Airlines House, after an employee was tested Covid-19 positive. Accordingly, the building will be shut for two days for sanitisation work.

Under the safety protocols, work places of those employees who have tested positive required to be shut and sanitised to prevent the spread of the virus. The test report of the employee had come out last night.

“One of the employees attending office at Airlines House has tested positive for covid 19,” the airline said in a statement. “As Air India accords top priority to safety and wellbeing of its employees, the building will be closed for two days for sanitisation, adhering to protocol. All support is being extended to the employee concerned”.

In an unrelated development, five pilots of the airline, who had earlier tested positive for coronavirus, have now tested negative for the infection.

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The test report of the employee had come out last night. Wikimedia Commons

The new results were obtained after a re-test was conducted on the positive cases under Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the airline. The pilots had tested coronavirus positive when 77 pilots of the airline were tested on a priority basis on Saturday.

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All the five pilots didn’t have any symptoms and would be home-quarantined in Mumbai, people in the know said. These pilots operated Boeing 787 Dreamliners aircraft, and were tested to be deployed for duty under the Vande Bharat Mission to ferry back Indians stranded abroad.

The national carrier has also been engaged in transport of essential medical supplies amid the pandemic. Starting May 7, Air India has been engaged in one of the largest rescue operations in the world, whereby 64 flights would bring back over 14,000 people stranded in 12 countries in 7 days.

Many Indians have already arrived in several cities under the Mission. (IANS)