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PM Narendra Modi announces Rs 500 crore financial assistance for Cyclone Amphan-hit Odisha




PM Narendra Modi announces Rs 500 crore financial assistance for Cyclone Amphan-hit Odisha thumbnail

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced financial assistance of Rs 500 crore for Odisha where Cyclone Amphan left a trail of devastation. The PM conducted an aerial survey of the areas in the state with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Expressing solidarity with the people of Odisha and deep sorrow for the lives lost, the Prime Minister also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured.

“Everyone is fighting COVID-19. In such a time, we had a super cyclone in some parts of India. This became very worrying. At the same time, due to the well-established processes in Odisha, many lives were saved. I congratulate the people and Government of Odisha. At the same time, there has been damage to property, which we reviewed in a meeting today. All possible assistance will be provided by the Centre to ensure quick relief work. Rs 500 crore will be given to Odisha as advance assistance,” tweeted the PMO.

After the aerial survey, PM Modi chaired a meeting in Bhubaneshwar with the senior state and central government functionaries to review the situation. He announced the financial assistance pending the assessment of the damage by an Inter-Ministerial Central Team.

“I would like to thank the citizens of Odisha, the administration and the CM for their efforts in tackling Cyclone Amphan as the state has been able to limit the casualties,” also said PM Modi.

PM Modi visited Odisha to take stock of the situation accompanied by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Ministers of State Babul Supriyo, Pratap Chandra Sarangi and Debasree Chaudhuri. Accompanied by the Governor of Odisha, Ganeshi Lal, and the CM, the PM conducted an aerial survey of Bhadrak and Balasore to assess the impact of the cyclone.

The PM gave his assurance that the Union Government would work shoulder to shoulder with the state governments at this difficult time and give all possible assistance for restoration and rebuilding of infrastructure in the areas affected by the cyclone.

PM Modi was received by CM Patnaik and Governor Ganeshi Lal on arrival at Bhubaneswar Airport. This was the Prime Minister’s first visit outside the national capital after the coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed on the midnight of March 24. 

Cyclone Amphan wreaked havoc in Odisha, damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts. This cyclone is considered to be the second major cyclone in the Bay of Bengal after the super cyclone of 1999, which had claimed around 10,000 lives in Odisha and devastated vast areas in the state.

In 2018, Odisha had rushed men and resources to the southern state of Kerala, which was severely hit by unprecedented floods. The rescue-and-relief teams from Odisha actively took part in the rehabilitation and resettlement of the flood-hit people in Kerala.

Nearly 45 lakh people in Odisha are affected by the extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan, officials said on May 21 as CM Patnaik asked them to submit a report on damage to crops and houses within the stipulated time. “The cyclone severely damaged houses, standing crops, electrical infrastructure and uprooted trees in many districts. Steps are being taken on a war footing to restore normalcy,” CM Patnaik said.

Stating that manpower and materials have been mobilised for quick restoration of power supply in Amphan-hit areas, the chief minister has said road clearance and connectivity issues will be sorted out by Friday morning.

The extremely severe cyclonic storm, which fiercely rolled past the state’s coast and made landfall in the Sunderbans in West Bengal on May 20, uprooted trees and flattened fragile dwellings, Chief Secretary AK Tripathy said. The power infrastructure and the farm sector have also suffered considerable damage, while the telecommunication infrastructure is largely intact with minimal impact, he said. It weakened significantly since making the landfall and moving to Bangladesh.

Horticulture sector has also suffered extensive damage as a large number of betel vines in Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak and Balasore districts have been completely destroyed due to heavy downpour and fierce winds.

Another senior official said electricity supply to 34 lakh consumers, including 1.63 lakh of power distribution company SOUTHCO, 15 lakh of NESCO and 17 lakh of CESU was hit. However, electricity was restored in SOUTHCO areas and in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.


COVID-19: India surpasses France, Germany, becomes 7th most-affected country in world





COVID-19: India surpasses France, Germany, becomes 7th most-affected country in world thumbnail

New Delhi: India is now the seventh most affected country by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic with a tally of 190,162 cases, which includes 5,402 deaths, according to data presented by the worldometer website. 

The United States leads the table with 18.2 lakh cases, including 1.05 lakh casualties. Of these, over 11.18 lakh cases are active cases while 5.36 lakh have been either recovered or discharged from hospitals. At least 17,163 people are said to be seriously critical of the infection in the US. 

Brazil takes the second spot with 5.01 lakh cases and over 28,000 deaths. Here, 2.67 lakh is active cases and over 2 lakh people have been recovered of the illness. Close to 8,300 are critically ill in Brazil. 

Russia is on the third spot with 4.05 lakh cases followed by the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy. 

On May 31, India registered its highest single-day spike of COVID-19 cases with 8,380 new infections reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s tally to 1,82,143, while the death toll rose to 5,164.

Just a few days back, on May 25, India took the tenth position on the table with a total of 1.38 lakh confirmed cases, after surpassing Iran, which stood at 1.35 cases.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit state in the country with 67,655 positive cases of coronavirus, as on May 31. Mumbai alone accounts for 39,686 of the total 67k cases of the state. The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Maharashtra stands at 36,040.

Other most-affected states are Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. 

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Karnataka issues guidelines for Unlock 1: Religious places, restaurants, malls to reopen





Karnataka issues guidelines for Unlock 1: Religious places, restaurants, malls to reopen thumbnail

Bengaluru: A day after the Center announced fifth phase of the country wide coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown, the Karnataka government on Sunday (May 31) issued its guidelines on the lockdown measures undertaken for ‘Unlock 1’. 

The new guidelines state that all the lockdown measures will remain in force in Karnataka till June 30. 

Whereas places of religious worship, restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality services can funtion from June 8 along with shopping malls and complexes.

The Karnataka government was expected to take a call on resuming the operation of inter-state buses after getting consent from other states though the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has already assumed operations with several restrictions in place.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Pradesh Hotels and Restaurants’ Association was elated with the state government’s decision to lift restrictions on the hotel industry.

In a quote to PTI, the President of the association Chandrashekar Hebbar said, “We are fully prepared to resume our business. We will abide by the guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing, gloves and so on.”

The Centre had on Saturday announced the exit plan for the lockdown dubbed as ‘Unlock 1’ that permits reopening places of religious worshipm shoppping malls and restaurants among other things.

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CIC scolds official for denying RTI data on stranded migrants, asks government to put it online





CIC scolds official for denying RTI data on stranded migrants, asks government to put it online thumbnail

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has pulled up an official for “callous and casual” response in denying data on stranded migrant labourers under the RTI Act, and asked the Labour Ministry to upload on its website as much data as possible on them.

Information Commissioner Vanaja N Sarna came down heavily on the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the office of Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) who has told RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak that it has no data on stranded migrant labourers.

The CPIO gave the response despite Nayak having quoted an April 8 circular of the CLC, directing its regional office to count within three days every labourer stranded after the imposition of the countrywide lockdown on March 25 to combat coronavirus.

Nearly a fortnight after the CLC circular, Nayak had filed an RTI application seeking to know the state-wise names of districts from which data about the stranded migrant workers were received. But he was told the officer did not have any data.

Nayak then filed a complaint under the Right to Information (RTI) Act before the Commission.

Sarna said the bench is conscious of the fact that under Section 18 of the RTI Act directions for disclosure of information is not warranted.

However, she said, keeping in view the extraordinary circumstances that necessitated the complaint, it was prudent to consider Nayak’s query in the letter and spirit of the RTI Act.

“In doing so, the Commission invokes section 25(5) of the RTI Act and issues an advisory to the respondent authority to maintain a robust and dynamic website for placing all data related to migrant workers therein as and when it is received from different Regional Heads,” she said.

Sarna quoted from orders of the Supreme Court, High Courts and Home Ministry’s press briefings in her detailed direction.

At this point, she said, it is necessary for the CPIO to put his best possible efforts to collect this data from different Regional Heads and place them on their website immediately even if it is done in a piecemeal manner.

“It is also necessary to continue to update this data from time to time as additional data is received from various quarters,” she said.

Underlining that the RTI application raised a very important issue, Sarna said the Commission is not convinced with the fact that when a letter is issued by the Chief 

Labour Commissioner to collect the data on migrant labourers, who are seriously affected by the pandemic, then how it is possible that no action was taken whatsoever.

“It is established beyond doubt that the CPIO has handled the RTI application in a very callous and casual manner. The complainant through his RTI application has raised a very important issue related to the stranded migrant workers,” Sarna said in her stern order.

But to the utmost surprise of the Commission, she observed, the CPIO has given a cursory, flimsy and inappropriate reply to Nayak while totally ignoring the seriousness of the issue he raised.

“The Commission records its severe admonition against the CPIO for such negligent handling of the RTI application concerning an issue of such wide implications,” she said.

Sarna said the officer seemed completely unaware of the provisions of the RTI Act.

Had he been aware, he could have transferred the query to the appropriate authority in the Chief Labour Commissioner’s office to obtain the collated information from them, she said.

“He should note that such poor handling shows complete laxity towards the implementation of the RTI Act which was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in the country and in case such a lapse is repeated in future, the Commission will be constrained to initiate penal action against him,” she said.

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