Delhi govt allows plumbers, electricians to resume workUpdated: Apr 27, 2020 23:31 IST
The Delhi government Monday relaxed a few more lockdown restrictions by allowing self-employed persons such as plumbers, electricians and repairers of water purifiers to resume their work from Tuesday.
The decision to allow self-employed persons to resume work came hours after an empowered group, constituted by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), to monitor the supply chain and logistics of essential items, recommended that a section of service rendering persons such as electricians and plumbers must be allowed to work even if the lockdown is extended beyond May 3.
In a late-night order issued by chief secretary Vijay Dev, the Delhi government also allowed interstate and intrastate movement of all medical and veterinary personnel, scientists, nurses, paramedical staff, lab technicians, midwives, and other hospital support services, including ambulances.
The order stated that air travel for such persons will also be allowed. This assumes significance since the Haryana and the Uttar Pradesh governments recently imposed curbs on the movement of people to and from Delhi, including those catering to essential services.
After receiving feedback that several private clinics, pathological labs and dispensaries in Delhi have been shut due to confusion over the lockdown rules and also because of a general fear of spreading Covid-19, the Delhi govt’s late-night order also included the opening of all such facilities across the capital.
The other additional activities that are now allowed include shops of electric fans, and shops of educational books for students.
However, these relaxations will not apply to any of the 99 containment zones in the city, a senior government official clarified.
The order also clarified that regular operations in shelter homes for persons with disabilities, children, elderly people, widows, etc., will continue. These homes were already operational during the lockdown, but with the order, they will be able to bring in more people or release those not needing these facilities any more.
The order stated that all other restrictions will remain intact. The chief secretary asked the agencies concerned, including the Delhi Police to ensure that “status quo” be maintained across the city with regard to curbs that will continue, until further orders.
On Monday, Delhi’s total number of Covid-19 cases touched 3,108, which included 877 recoveries and 54 deaths. A week ago, on April 20, the DDMA had constituted five empowered groups, comprising top bureaucrats and experts, to identify problems in the city’s Covid-19 mitigation activities and suggest solutions ranging from policy interventions to emergency planning.
Of the five panels, the empowered group on facilitating supply chain and logistics of essential items submitted its first report to the DDMA on Monday. The panel, headed by Delhi food and civil supplies commissioner Ankita Mishra Bundela, reasoned that after the nationwide lockdown was extended to May 3, many services rendered by self-employed persons have now become essential.
“The general public requires the services of electricians, plumbers, drain cleaners, etc, which are sometimes as essential as the supply of daily need items. In case there is an electrical fault in the house, the entire household activities may come to a standstill… Therefore, necessary consideration should be given to this aspect also,” read the report, which HT has seen.
Allowing such self-employed persons to work was a part of the Central government’s guidelines on the extended lockdown issued on April 15. Delhi, however, did not allow any relaxation suggested by the Centre back then as each of the 11 districts in the capital was categorised as a ‘high-risk’ or ‘red’ zone.
It was only on Saturday, after the Centre issued a revised order, that the Delhi government allowed standalone shops in residential colonies to operate, while still keeping all other restrictions in place.
The empowered group also pointed out that if the lockdown is extended, attention will have to be given to items that are dependent on imports. Items such as coffee, diapers, dry fruits, oils and cereals “are expected to face a supply crunch” in the next few weeks, it said.
When it comes to medicines, the group found that pharmaceutical companies and distributors are facing problems in the interstate movement of products as warehouses, which stock medicines, are located all over the country.
“All essential medicines are available in the market, but the factories are told to be operating at less than 50% of their capacity. The distributors may not be able to supply all medicines if the production remains affected at the source level for a long time,” read the report.
Bundela said that the report is a preliminary submission prepared to draw the broader contours of issues related to availability of essential items. “It is the first report and doesn’t mean the task of the empowered group is over. It is a work in progress,” she said.
The first reports submitted by each of the five empowered groups will be analysed by chief secretary Vijay Dev, who will identify the actionable points and issue directions to the concerned agencies. If any of the problems highlighted are found to be extremely serious in nature, they will be flagged to the lieutenant-governor, who is the chairperson of the DDMA and the chief minister who is the co-chairperson of the DDMA. The general findings by the groups will also be conveyed to them.