Shimla-With his wife and his three-year-old-daughter Arvind, an NRI, had to travel to Delhi from Shimla and then back from Delhi to Shimla, risking their lives by traveling amid COVID-19 crisis. The family has permanent residency of Norway and, was to catch their flight (KLM Airlines) on May 5, 2020. It was a special flight to Europe and the family had the permission of the Norwegian embassy. They had booked the flight after receiving written permission issued by the embassy informing them about the special flight.
However, on reaching the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the staff of KLM Airlines did not let the family board the flight. Alongiwth this family, several other Indians were prohibited from boarding the same flight despite all permissions. They were not shown any directions or orders prohibiting their travel to Europe.
But that was not all. What happened after the family returned to Shimla was the real joke.
While speaking to Himachal Watcher telephonically, Arvind termed it mental and physical harassment and racial discrimination they faced at the hands of the KLM staff. He had also recorded a video at the Airport, which he shared with HW.
Here is the whole story in Arvind’s Own Words:
‘’My heart laments to share what happened with us on the night of 4th May. I along with my family (wife and 3 years daughter) had a KLM flight( KL872) from Delhi to Amsterdam at 3.00 am on 5th May. We travelled almost 400 KM from Shimla to Delhi on 3rd May in the lockdown period to board the aforesaid flight. However, to our surprise, we were not allowed to board the KLM flight KL872 despite I being Permanent Residency holder of Norway.
The reason given to us was that due to some changes in regulations it is not allowed for us to board the flight as we don’t have EU passports, neither do we have someone in our blood relation who has an EU passport. While I booked a flight from the KLM website on 27th April, no such information or regulation was there. Neither were we informed by the KLM authorities by phone about the changes regulation. The KLM staff was not at all friendly especially Duty Station Manager Mr Ajay Goel did not help us in any way, rather he created unnecessary hassles. When we asked Mr. Ajay Goel to show us the regulation which he was referring to, he did not show it to us saying it was confidential.
Thus, violating the Right to Information (RTI) act 2005. Although the Norwegian Embassy representative also intervened and told Mr. Ajay Goel that the embassy had special permission for us from Ministry of External Affairs to board the flight, but still we were refuted by Mr. Ajay Goel to board the flight.
In response to Mr. Ajay Goel’s aberrant behaviour of not providing us any written documentation for not allowing us to board the flight, I had to film a small video as evidence for my future reference. We risked our lives during Covid-19 to reach Delhi from Shimla all for nothing. On top of that, we were told to leave the airport at 3.00 am without any assistance from KLM.
Thereafter we had to book a taxi back to the hotel and also back to Shimla (400km back). Furthermore, now we are home quarantined deprived of our freedom for 14 days and constantly under the fear of being a COVID carrier, due to irresponsible behaviour and attitude of KLM employees on duty.
To further aggravate the situation, I received a call from KLM customer care on 07th May, stating that the rule has now changed, hence we can now travel on the next flight scheduled on 10th May. However, I still doubt the verity of the statement made by KLM customer care.
This entire incident has affected me and my family, mentally, physically and financially, hence , I demand justice from the authorities and concerned people especially KLM India.
Arvind has also filed a complaint against the KLM staff and claimed damages on account of mental agonies and physical harassment/abuses/ racial discrimination.
All Activities, Religious Places, Shopping Malls, Restaurants Outside Containment Zones to Re-Open from June 8
New Delhi- Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued new guidelines to fight COVID-19 and for phased re-opening of areas outside the Containment Zones, today. The guidelines would come into effect from June 1, 2020, and would be effective till June 30, 2020. The current phase of re-opening, Unlock 1, will have an economic focus. The new guidelines have been issued based on extensive consultations held with States and UTs.
A strict lockdown was imposed throughout the country since March 24, 2020. All activities were prohibited except for essential activities. Subsequently, in a graded manner and keeping the overarching objective of containing the spread of COVID-19 in view, the lockdown measures have been relaxed.
Note: The below given notification issued by the MHA has been published with no or little editing by Himachal Watcher
Salient features of the new guidelines
Lockdown measures would continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones. These will be demarcated by the State/ UT Governments, after taking into consideration the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry. Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.
All activities that were prohibited earlier would be opened up in areas outside Containment Zones in a phased manner, with the stipulation of following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), to be prescribed by the Health Ministry:
Phase I (permitted to open from June 8, 2020)
- Religious places and places of worship for the public;
- Hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services; and
- Shopping malls.
Health Ministry would issue SOPs for the above activities, in consultation with the Central Ministries/ Departments concerned and other stakeholders, for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and UTs. State Governments/ UT administrations are being advised to hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. Based on the feedback, a decision on the re-opening of these institutions will be taken in July 2020. MoHFW will prepare SOP for these institutions.
A limited number of activities to remain prohibited throughout the country
- International air travel of passengers;
- Operation of Metro Rail;
- Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and,
- Social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations.
- Dates for the opening of the above activities would be decided in Phase III, based on an assessment of the situation.
Unrestricted Movement of Persons and Goods
- No restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit would be required for such movements.
- However, if a State/ UT, based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation, proposes to regulate the movement of persons, it would give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movement, and the related procedures to be followed.
Night curfew would continue to remain in force, on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities. However, the revised timings of the curfew will be from 9 pm to 5 am.
National Directives for COVID-19 management would continue to be followed throughout the country, to ensure social distancing.
States to decide on activities outside Containment Zones
States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain activities outside the Containment zones or impose such restrictions, as deemed necessary.
Protection for vulnerable persons
Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.
Use of Aarogya Setu
The Aarogya Setu mobile application is a powerful tool built by Government of India to facilitate quick identification of persons infected by COVID-19, or at risk of being infected, thus acting as a shield for individuals and the community. To ensure safety, various authorities are advised to encourage the use of the application.
Read All Short & Long Term Measures Announced for Small Businesses Migrants, Farmers, Street Vendors etc.
- Free food grains supply to Migrants for 2 months.
- Technology system to be used enabling Migrants to access PDS(Ration) from any Fair Price Shops in India by March,2021-One Nation one Ration Card.
- Scheme for Affordable Rental Housing Complexes for Migrant Workers and Urban Poor to be launched.
- 2% Interest Subvention for 12 months for Shishu MUDRA loanees- Relief of Rs. 1500 crore.
- Rs 5000 crore Credit facility for Street Vendors.
- Rs70,000 crore boost to the housing sector and middle-income group through the extension of Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for MIG under PMAY(Urban).
- Rs 6,000 crore for Creating employment using CAMPA funds.
- Rs 30,000 crore Additional Emergency Working Capital for farmers through NABARD.
- Rs 2 lakh crore concessional credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers under Kisan Credit Card Scheme.
New Delhi-Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 14, 2020, in a press conference detailed the short term and long-term measures for supporting the poor, including migrants, farmers, tiny businesses and street vendors.
Following short term and long-term measures for supporting the poor, including migrants, farmers, tiny businesses and street vendors were announced on Thursday:-
Note: The information given by the GoI has been published unedited or with little editing
Free food grains supply to migrants for 2 months
For the migrant labour, additional food grain to all the States/UTs at the rate of 5 kg per migrant labourer and 1 kg Chana per family per month for two months i.e. May and June, 2020 free of cost shall be allocated. Migrant labourers not covered under National Food Security Act or without a ration card in the State/UT in which they are stranded at present will be eligible. States/UTs shall be advised to put a mechanism for targeted distribution as envisaged in the scheme. 8 Lakh MT of food-grain and 50,000 MT of Chana shall be allocated. The entire outlay of Rs. 3500 crore will be borne by Government of India.
Technology system to be used enabling Migrants to access PDS (Ration) from any Fair Price Shops in India by March,2021-One Nation one Ration Card
Pilot scheme for portability of ration cards will be extended to 23 states. By that, 67 crore beneficiaries covering 83% of PDS population will be covered by National portability of Ration cards by August, 2020. 100% National portability will be achieved by March, 2021. This is part of PM’s Technology-Driven System Reforms This scheme will enable a migrant worker and their family members to access PDS benefits from any Fair Price Shop in the country. This will ensure that the people in transit, especially migrant workers can also get the benefit of PDS benefit across the country.
Scheme for Affordable Rental Housing Complexes for Migrant Workers and Urban Poor to be launched
Central Government will launch a scheme for migrant workers and urban poor to provide ease of living at affordable rent. Affordable Rental Housing Complexes will provide social security and quality life to migrant labour, urban poor, and students etc. This will be done through converting government-funded houses in the cities into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) under PPP mode through concessionaire; manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) on their private land and operate; and Incentivizing State Govt agencies/Central Government Organizations on similar lines to develop Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) and operate. The exact details of the scheme will be released by the Ministry/Department.
2% Interest Subvention for 12 months for Shishu MUDRA loanees- Relief of Rs. 1,500 crore
Government of India will provide Interest subvention of 2% for prompt payees for 12 months to MUDRA Shishu loanees, who have loans below Rs 50,000. The current portfolio of MUDRA Shishu loans is around Rs 1.62 Lakh crore. This will provide relief of about Rs 1,500 crore to Shishu MUDRA loanee.
Rs 5,000 crore Credit facility for Street Vendors
A special scheme will be launched within a month to facilitate easy access to credit to Street vendors, who are amongst the most adversely impacted by the present situation for enabling them to restart their businesses. Under this scheme, a bank credit facility for initial working capital up to Rs. 10,000 for each enterprise will be extended. This scheme will cover urban as well as rural vendors doing business in the adjoining urban areas. Use of digital payments and timely repayments will be incentivized through monetary rewards. It is expected that 50 lakh street vendors will be benefitted under this scheme and credit of Rs. 5,000 crore would flow to them.
Rs 70,000 crore boost to the housing sector and middle-income group through the extension of Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for MIG under PMAY(Urban)
The Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group (annual Income between Rs 6 and 18 lakhs) will be extended up to March 2021. This will benefit 2.5 lakhs middle income families during 2020-21 and will lead to an investment of over Rs 70,000 crore in the housing sector. This will create significant number of jobs by giving boost to the Housing sector and will stimulate demand for steel, cement, transport and other construction materials.
Rs 6,000 crore for Creating employment using CAMPA funds
Approximately Rs 6,000 crore of funds under Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA) will be used for Afforestation and Plantation works, including in urban areas, Artificial regeneration, assisted natural regeneration, forest management, soil & moisture conservation works, Forest protection, forest and wildlife-related infrastructure development, wildlife protection and management etc. Government of India will grant immediate approval to these plans amounting to Rs 6000 crore. This will create job opportunities in urban, semi-urban and rural areas and also for Tribals (Adivasis).
Rs 30,000 crore Additional Emergency Working Capital for farmers through NABARD
NABARD will extend additional re-finance support of Rs 30,000 crore for meeting crop loan requirement of Rural Cooperative Banks and RRBs. This refinance will be front-loaded and available on tap. This is over and above Rs 90,000 crore that will be provided by NABARD to this sector in the normal course. This will benefit around 3 crore farmers, mostly small and marginal and it will meet their post-harvest Rabi and current Kharif requirements.
Rs 2 lakh crore credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers under the Kisan Credit Card Scheme
A special drive to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan Credit Cards. Fisherman and Animal Husbandry Farmers will also be included in this drive. This will inject additional liquidity of Rs 2 lakh crore in the farm sector. 2.5 crore farmers will be covered.
Lockdown Extension: Read What’s Allowed, What’s Not in Green, Orange, Red Zones
New Delhi-The nationwide lockdown in India has been extended for two more weeks. In this regard, the Government of India (GoI) on May 1st issued an order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to further extend the Lockdown with effect from May 4, 2020.
MHA also issued new guidelines to regulate different activities in this period, based on the risk profiling of the districts of the country into Red (hotspot), Green and Orange Zones. The guidelines have permitted considerable relaxations in the districts falling in the Green and Orange Zones.
The Green-Zones will be districts with either zero confirmed cases till date; or, no confirmed case in the last 21 days. The classification of districts as Red Zones will take into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts.
Those districts, which are neither defined as Red nor Green, will be classified as Orange zones.
Further, the State Government of Himachal Pradesh is likely to take decision on permitted and prohibited activities in respective zones on May 2nd in the Cabinet meeting.
What’s Not Permitted
Under the new guidelines, a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zone.
These include travel by air, rail, metro and inter-State movement by road; running of schools, colleges, and other educational and training/ coaching institutions; hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants; places of large public gatherings, such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes etc; social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and, religious places/ places of worship for the public. However, movement of persons by air, rail and road is allowed for selected purposes, and for purposes as permitted by MHA.
Movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, will remain strictly prohibited between 7 pm to 7 am.
Local authorities will issue orders under appropriate provisions of law, such as prohibitory orders [curfew] under Section 144 of CrPC, for this purpose, and ensure strict compliance.
In all zones, persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, will have to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes. Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) and Medical clinics will be permitted to operate in Red, Orange and Green Zones, with social distancing norms and other safety precautions; however, these will not be permitted within the Containment Zones.
In the Red Zones, outside the Containment Zones, certain activities are prohibited in addition to those prohibited throughout the country. These are: plying of cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws; running of taxis and cab aggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses; and, barbershops, spas and salons.
What’s Permitted in Red Zone
Certain other activities have been allowed in the Red Zones with restrictions. Movement of individuals and vehicles is allowed only for permitted activities, with a maximum of 2 persons (besides the driver) in four-wheeler vehicles, and with no pillion rider in the case of two-wheelers.
Industrial establishments in urban areas, viz., Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Export Oriented Units (EOUs), industrial estates and industrial townships with access control have been permitted. The other industrial activities permitted are manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates; production units, which require continuous process, and their supply chain; manufacturing of IT hardware; jute industry with staggered shifts and social distancing; and, manufacturing units of packaging material.
Construction activities in urban areas have been limited to in-situ construction (where workers are available on site and no workers are required to be brought in from outside) and construction of renewable energy projects. Shops in urban areas, for non-essential goods, are not allowed in malls, markets and market complexes. However, all standalone (single) shops, neighbourhood (colony) shops and shops in residential complexes are permitted to remain open in urban areas, without any distinction of essential and non-essential.
E-Commerce activities, in the Red Zones, are permitted only in respect of essential goods. Private offices can operate with upto 33% strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home. All Government offices will function with senior officers of the level of Deputy Secretary and above at full strength, and the remaining staff attending upto 33% as per requirement.
However, Defense and Security services, Health and Family Welfare, Police, Prisons, Home Guards, Civil Defence, Fire and Emergency Services, Disaster management and related services, National Informatics Centre (NIC), Customs, Food Corporation of India (FCI), National Cadet Corps (NCC), Nehru Yuvak Kendra (NYK) and Municipal services will function without any restrictions; delivery of public services will be ensured and necessary staff will be deployed for such purpose.
A large number of other activities are allowed in the Red Zones. All industrial and construction activities in rural areas, including MNREGA works, food-processing units and brick-kilns are permitted; besides, in rural areas, without distinction to the nature of goods, all shops, except in shopping malls are permitted.
All agriculture activities, e.g., sowing, harvesting, procurement and marketing operations in the agricultural supply chain are permitted. Animal husbandry activities are fully permitted, including inland and marine fisheries. All plantation activities are allowed, including their processing and marketing. All health services (including AYUSH) are to remain functional, including transport of medical personnel and patients through air ambulances.
A large part of the financial sector remains open, which includes banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), insurance and capital market activities, and credit co-operative societies. Operation of homes for children, senior citizens, destitute, women and widows etc.; and operation of Anganwadis have also been permitted. Public utilities, e.g., utilities in power, water, sanitation, waste management, telecommunications and internet will remain open, and courier and postal services will be allowed to operate.
Most of the commercial and private establishments have been allowed in the Red Zones. These include print and electronic media, IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centres, cold storage and warehousing services, private security and facility management services, and services provided by self-employed persons, except for barbers etc.,
Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates; production units, which require continuous process, and their supply chain; Jute industry with staggered shifts and social distancing; and manufacturing of IT hardware and manufacturing units of packaging material will continue to be permitted.
What’s Permitted in Orange Zones
In the Orange Zones, in addition to activities permitted in Red Zone, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with one driver and three passengers only. Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only. Four-wheeler vehicles will have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.
What’s Permitted in Green Zones
In the Green Zones, all activities are permitted except the limited number of activities which are prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zone. However, buses can operate with upto 50% seating capacity and bus depots can operate with upto 50% capacity.
All goods traffic is to be permitted. No State/ UT will stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate pass of any sort is needed for such movement, which is essential for maintaining the supply chain of goods and services across the country during the lockdown period.
All other activities will be permitted activities, which are not specifically prohibited, or which are permitted with restrictions in the various Zones, under these guidelines.
However, States/ UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, and with the primary objective of keeping the spread of COVID-19 in check, may allow only select activities from out of the permitted activities, with such restrictions as felt necessary.
No separate/ fresh permissions will be required from authorities for activities already permitted to operate under the guidelines on Lockdown measures up to May 3, 2020. The Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs) issued by MHA will continue to operate such as transit arrangement for foreign national(s) in India; release of quarantine persons; the movement of stranded labour within States/ UTs; sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers, movement of stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons by road and rail.
The Unsung Economic Emancipator of the Shimla Hills
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