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Shimla MC’s move to privatise sanitation work in controversy over hiring of Rohingya refugees

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Rohingya refugees in Shimla as sanitation workers

Shimla: The alleged entry of Rohingya refugees into Shimla as new sanitation workers after the Municipal Corporation decided to outsource the service from July 1, 2018, has sparked a controversy.

The private company is bringing workers from other states like Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir, but it did not care about verifying their identity.  At the same time, Shimla MC also caught off-guard as it also became care-free after outsourcing the work. 

The SMC has outsourced the sanitation work in five Wards; Tutu, Majyath, Tutikandi, Boileauganj, Kachhi Ghati. The company hired about 40 workers, who were brought from other states. Out of these 40, about 22 were Rohingya refugees, the reports said.   

The Mayor washed her hands-off saying she was not aware of the identification of the workers hired by the company for the sanitation work of her town. 

Further, MC has now decided that no refugees would be hired.  

The private company reportedly justified that he was not aware that they were refugees. He said about five people, who were carrying an identity card of the issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had approached him to seek the job. 

These refugees do not possess any identification given by the Indian government, it was alleged.

Questions have been raised over the functioning of security agencies and the State Police Department. As per allegations, the SMC, district administration, police, and security agencies were unaware of the fact that refugees have entered Shimla without their knowledge.

The district administration and police department have begun an investigation of the allegations. The contractor has been summoned by the Deputy Commissioner Amit Kashyap and Superintendent of Police Ompati Jamwal.

The Mayor has been directed to verify the identity of workers being brought by the company. 

Meanwhile, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Pramod Shukla, said the refugees had returned to J&K and were expected to come back with more workers. He said currently there was no refugee present in Shimla. 

Hire Locals as Sanitation Workers: VHP

The State President of the Vishav Hindu Parishad in Himachal Pradesh has also issued a statement terming these refugees as a threat to the internal security of the state.

The VHP has also questioned the move to hire workers from another state instead of providing employment to locals. 

It’s pertinent to mention that about 40 locals employed as workers with the Shimla Heritage, Environment & Beautification Society have already quite the job as a protest against the privatization. 

Who are Rohingya Refugees?

Rohingya refugees are said to be the result of what was described as one of the largest exoduses of people in which about 500,000 people had to flee the country to take refuge in border areas of the neighbouring countries. It happened after a massacre of the people of Rohingya ethnic group.

Rohingya had been living in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for several decades alongside Buddhist population. Their population was estimated to be around 10 lakh. They are not treated as citizens of Myanmar, they do not enjoy rights like citizens, and their access to health, education, supplies, group activities etc. has always remained restricted. They are believed to be Bangladeshi Muslims who were not recognized as citizens by their government and were forced to migrate to Myanmar.

As per the reports of the UN, after facing decades of atrocities including the brutal rape of their women and minor girls, a militant group appeared as a reaction to this long persecution. On August 25, 2017, a genocide begins in Rohingya after the government of Myanmar alleged that this militant group, which was allegedly supported by Rohingya people, launched an attack on security posts and killed a dozen of soldiers.

Though the government refuted the allegations, the UN reports have suggested that armed forces were not only after the militants responsible for attacks but were also raped women and minor girls and slaughtered about 1,000 Rohingya people in the Rakhine state.

As per UNO, these people are one of the most persecuted ethnic groups and have endured atrocities on the hand of the majority for several decades.

These refugees also sought refuge in India; however, the government remained sceptical about them under pressure from internal organizations that termed them as a potential threat to the security of India.

The government had told the Supreme Court that it does not want India to become a refugee capital of the world. As per officials, there are about 40,000 refugees related to the Rohingya community in India.

The Indian government is in favour of identifying these refugees and deport them back to Myanmar. Also, these refugees were not given access to health care or government programs meant to support their survival and protect their rights.

India is not a signatory of 1951 refugees convention meant to extend help to displaced people.

As per reports, mothers and their newborns are also not receiving sufficient nutrition and a large number of still deaths were reported in the refugee camps.

Senior advocate Ashwini Kumar, who was appearing for two Rohingya migrants had stated that “minimum humanitarian morality” should be shown to the refugees at the border.

We cannot push them back to the jaws of death. You cannot deny a man his right to life. The Supreme Court has to intervene as the ultimate protector of life,

he had submitted.

These refugees fear that they would be either massacred or further persecuted if they were deported back to the conflict zone from where they had to flee to save their lives.

Meanwhile, India has initiated talks with the Myanmar government regarding the deportation of refugees.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Himachal Records 16 COVID-19 Deaths Including a 16-Year-Old – Highest in a Day This Year

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COVID-19 update himachal pradesh april 20

Shimla-The fatality rate due to the COVID-19 spread is witnessing a sharp increase in Himachal Pradesh. Yesterday, the state had reported 13 COVID-19 deaths, but today the fatalities rose to 16 in a day. A total of 1340 new cases were recorded today till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest six deaths, followed by Shimla (4), and Una (3).

Find more details about the deceased below:

Highest covid 19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The infection claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl in Una district. According to the state health department’s official report, she developed severe pneumonia and was a patient of Diabetes Mellitus Type-1. Other deceased aged between 36-78 years.

Earlier today, the Deputy Commissioner of Una, Raghav Sharma, had issued orders to keep markets/shops closed on Sundays and issued timings for the remaining days. A prohibition was imposed on all sorts of events and social gatherings. The orders would come into effect from April 22, 2021.

Also Read: Himachal: Govt Announces More Restrictive Measures, DC Una Closes Shops on Sundays, Issues Timing for Other Days

Further, Chief Minister Jairam today announced more restrictive measures as an attempt to contain the spread (Watch Video Below).

Solan district reported the highest 265 cases, followed by Una (173), Shimla (164) and Sirmaur (155).

Find more district-wise details below:

Himachal pradesh daily covid-19 report april 20

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Himachal: Govt Announces More Restrictive Measures, DC Una Closes Shops on Sundays, Issues Timing for Other Days

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hp govt's new restrictions in himachal pradesh

Una-Deputy Commissioner of Una district, Raghav Sharma, has issued an order for the imposition of new restrictive measures from April 22, 2021, in wake of the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the district. The DC also expressed fear of community spread and ordered that markets would remain closed on Sundays in both rural and urban areas of the district.

However, these orders would not apply to drug stores, hotels, dhabas, and restaurants. Further, shops selling dairy, vegetables, fruits and meat would also remain open on Sundays from 7 am to 8 pm. Saloons and barber shops would also be allowed to operate on Sunday between 9 am to 6 pm.

All shops would remain open from Monday to Saturday within the given time period, which is 7 am to 8 pm for fruit, vegetable, meat, and dairy shops, and 9 am to 6 pm for saloons/barber shops, and 9 am to 6 pm for remaining shops.

Also Read: With Neighboring States Going to Curfew, Himachal’s Tourism Sector Again Comes to a Halt

A prohibition has been imposed on the organization of all sort of cultural, religious, political, sports and other gatherings in the district. For attending marriages and funerals, the permission of the district administration would be required.

Today, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also told the media that the number of people allowed in social gatherings, like marriages, has been reduced to 50 for both indoors and outdoors.

For government employees, working days have been reduced to five days a week and staff capacity to 50 percent. Public transport would operate with only 50 percent capacity.

For marriages or any sort of other social, cultural, political events, prior permission of one week would have to be obtained by applying online at the official portal.

The inter-state transport would remain operational, the government said. People returning from high load states were advised to carry COVID-19 negative reports and obey home-quarantine rules strictly.

Orders for Government Employees from Department of Personnel

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COVID-19 Vaccination in India to Open for All Aged Above 18 Years in 3rd Phase: Govt

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All above 18 in india eligible for covid-19 vaccination

New Delhi-From May 1, 2021, everyone above the age of 18 would be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination, the Government of India decided today. As per the government, the decision has been taken as a good amount of coverage of vulnerable groups is expected by 30th April.

Pertinent to mention that a demand was being raised to open vaccination for all amid the peaking second wave of the pandemic which is proving to be deadlier than the first one. On Sunday, former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, had also written to Prime Minister Narender Modi to be more flexible in deciding eligibility for vaccination as it was the only hope. He had pointed out that when we look at the percentage of population instead of the absolute numbers, we see that only a small fraction has been covered so far. He had also suggested reworking on the current model adopted by the government. 

Singh had asked the Prime Minister to allow states to define who qualifies as a ‘frontline worker’.  Many states wanted to designate bus and taxi drivers, school teachers, municipal and panchayat staff, and even lawyers as frontline workers to make them eligible for vaccination even if they are below the requisite 45 years of age.

Phase-I of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy was launched on 16th January 2021, prioritizing vaccination of Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs). Phase-II was initiated from 1st March 2021, focusing on the most vulnerable i.e. all people above 45 years of age, accounting for more than 80% of Covid mortality in the country. The private sector was also roped in to augment capacity.

So far, Emergency Use Authorisation has been granted to two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech), and a third vaccine (Sputnik) that while presently manufactured abroad will eventually be manufactured in India, the GoI said.

The government said that in its Phase-III, the National Vaccine Strategy aims at liberalised vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage, the GoI said. This would augment vaccine production as well as availability, incentivising vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international. It would also make pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible, allowing all stakeholders the flexibility to customise to local needs and dynamics, the GoI said.

The main elements of the Phase 3 Strategy of the National Covid-19 Vaccination program that would come in effect from 1st May 2021

(i)      Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to Govt. of India and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to State Govts. and in the open market (hereinafter referred to as other than Govt. of India channel).

 (ii)    Manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to State Govts. and in the open market, before 1st May 2021. Based on this price, State governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for other than Govt. of India channel. Private Vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18.

(iii)    Vaccination will continue as before in Govt. of India vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined earlier i.e. Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and all people above 45 years of age.

(iv)    All vaccination (through Govt. of India and Other than Govt. of India channel) would be part of the National Vaccination Programme, and mandated to follow all protocol such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to AEFI reporting and all other prescribed norms. Stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres will also have to be reported in real-time.

(v)     The division of vaccine supply 50% to Govt. of India and 50% to other than Govt. of India channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country. However, the Government of India will allow the imported fully ready to use vaccines to be entirely utilized in the other than Govt. of India channel.

(vi)    Govt. of India, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) & performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criterion and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, State-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the States adequately in advance.

(vii) The Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.

(viii) This policy would come into effect from 1st May 2021 and will be reviewed from time to time.

Feature Photo: ivvndiaz/unsplash

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