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Move aimed at protecting jobs in Group D category

The Union government has issued a notification defining “domiciles” in the new Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir for protecting jobs in the Group D category and entry-level non-gazetted posts for the domiciles.

On August 6 last, the Centre withdrew J&K’s special status under Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution and bifurcated it into the UTs of J&K and Ladakh.

Changes in PSA

Tuesday’s notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) makes changes to the Public Safety Act (PSA) by removing a clause that prohibited J&K residents booked under the Act to be lodged in jails outside.

The notification scraps all pension benefits such as car, driver, accommodation, phones, electricity, medical facilities and rent-free accommodation to former J&K Chief Ministers.

The order says the domiciles will be eligible “for the purposes of appointment to any post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level 4”. The Level 4 post comprises positions such as gardeners, barbers, office peons and waterman, and the highest rank in the category is that of a junior assistant.

A senior government official said the reservation for domiciles would not apply to Group A and Group B posts, and like other UTs, recruitment would be done by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

“This is according to the norms in other UTs and States. Recruitment by the UPSC expands the search for talent across the country,” the official said.

Vacancies in posts

According to the MHA’s reply to a parliamentary panel on February 18, there are more than 84,000 vacancies in J&K, of which 22,078 pertain to Class IV employees, 54,375 to non-gazetted and 7,552 at the gazetted level.

The order defines a domicile as one “who has resided for a period of 15 years in the UT of J&K or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th /12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K or who is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants).’’

Individuals and organisations can pitch in, says official

Narendra Modi

India welcomes foreign contributions to the PM-CARES fund to fight the threat posed by the novel coronavirus, a source said here on Wednesday.

The official highlighted the shortage of ventilators and personal protective equipment for medical professionals, which needs to be addressed urgently.

“The pandemic is unprecedented. In view of this, India has taken a decision to accept foreign contributions to the PM-CARES fund,” said a source.

The PM-CARES fund, a public charitable trust, was set up in response to the emerging requirement for resources. “Contributions can be made by individuals and organisations, both in India and abroad,” said the source familiar with India’s plans to deal with the crisis.

The official described the shortage of ventilators and personal protective equipment as “acute”, which prompted Indian diplomatic teams to look for reliable supplies from different parts of the world. “We are working with our ambassadors to deal with the huge shortage of ventilators and other equipment,” the official said. The issue also featured during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video discussion with 130 Indian envoys on March 30.

The official said the bulk of the equipment and relief materials were flowing in through independent organisations as special contributions, while the government was purchasing the items that were in short supply in the health sector.

The device sprays nebulised water droplets into the air through high-pressure propellers to curb dust pollution

Most government agencies are yet to comply withletters by the DPCC on installation of smog guns.Special Arrangementde22 gun

More than two months after the Supreme Court ordered the installation of anti-smog guns at all large construction sites among other locations to reduce dust pollution, the devices have been installed at 14 of the 47 large projects in Delhi.

But most of the government agencies, including the municipal corporations and the Public Works Department, are yet to comply to letters sent by the Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCC) to instal anti-smog guns, said officials.

The anti-smog gun sprays nebulised water droplets into the air through high-pressure propellers, which help dust particles settle down. “The remaining 33 sites have informed us that they will instal the anti-smog guns as soon as they get the supply,” a Delhi government official told The Hindu.

On January 13, the Supreme Court had said that anti-smog guns should be mandatory in projects that require environmental clearance from the State or Centre, and have a built-up area of over 20,000 square metres.

The DPCC then made a list of all projects that have taken an environmental clearance and wrote to them on January 22, asking them to come up with a plan in 30 days, and then gave them a deadline of March 18 to instal the devices. “We will analyse the condition and give a fresh deadline to the remaining 33 projects,” the official said.

The DPCC wrote to all the five municipal bodies in Delhi, the Public Works Department, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) on January 16, and instructed them to issue directions to contractors who carry out the latter’s works to instal anti-smog guns.

“Most of them are yet to respond to us except for NHAI and NBCC. All the municipal corporations said that they are busy with dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. We will send them reminders,” the official said.

An anti-smog gun has been parked at the construction site in India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO). But it has been used only at one spot.

“For the last few days, it has been at this spot. We need a tractor to pull it as the 500-litre tank makes it heavy for even two people to move it. So, we have been using it only at this part of the site,” a worker told The Hindu.

Though the site had rented two such devices, one was not functioning and the other was taken out of operation, according to officials at the site. The device was not able to control dust at the site as it was stationed only spot in the vast area.

It will modify ventilators to raise capacity

Priming the forces: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh conducting a review via videoconferencing on Wednesday. PTI

A laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has made arrangements to make 20,000 five-layered masks a day and the DRDO was also engaged in minor modification of ventilators so that one machine could support four patients at a time, its Chairman Satheesh Reddy told Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday.

At a review meeting of the Ministry held through videoconferencing, the three Service chiefs and other officials too apprised the Minister of their efforts, a statement said.

Mr. Reddy said that 50,000 litres of sanitisers made by the DRDO labs were supplied to various security entities, including the Delhi Police and another one lakh litres distributed all over the country. “A five-layered nanotechnology mask N99 is being made on a war footing. A total of 10,000 have already been made and soon per day production will be extended to 20,000,” the statement said.

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat said that separate hospitals have been identified to exclusively deal with COVID-19 and more than 9,000 hospital beds were available.

“Over 1,000 evacuees are quarantined at facilities in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Chennai, Manesar, Hindan and Mumbai. Their quarantine period will end by April 7,” he said.

Besides airlifting tonnes of medical supplies, regular airlift of COVID-19 test samples from Ladakh to Delhi was being undertaken, stated Air Chief Marshal R.K.S Bhadauria.

Army chief Gen. Manoj Naravane informed the Defence Minister that more than 8,500 doctors and support staff were available to extend necessary assistance to the civilian administration. On providing assistance to neighbouring countries, he said that “assistance to Nepal in the form of medical equipment will be delivered shortly”.

Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh said naval ships were on a standby to extend any assistance.

Retired health professionals have been kept in readiness, said Lt. Gen. Anup Banerji, Director General Armed Force Medical Services (AFMS). Approximately, 25,000 National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets are being mobilised for local assistance.

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