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Government can book firms laying off workers during lockdown: The Gujarat government has warned factories and businesses from laying off workers or cutting their salaries. FIRs may be filed against erring owners and management under the Disaster Management Act. Factories, industries, shops and establishments will not be able to terminate or cut salaries of workers during the lockdown period. Necessary notifications have been made by the government under Section 34 of the Disaster Management Act. FIRs will be filed under Section 51 of the Act against any entity or owner found violating this order. The Act empowers the state government to fine or imprison a person for up to a year for violating the orders. There were 43,721 factories in Gujarat that employ more than 10 workers in one unit. These factories employ over 18 lakh people. More than 38,000 registered contractors employ an additional 25 lakh workers and labourers. Under the shops and establishment act, there are 10 lakh shops registered in the state where more than 12 lakh workers are employed. Also, the salaries and jobs of maids and domestic help should be safeguarded during the period of lockdown. Unorganised sector workers will be deemed to be on duty without any deduction in wages till April 14. (03-04-2020)
District administration launches blood collection drive: To help replenish supplies in the city’s blood banks during the Covid-19 lockdown the district collector has assigned 12 vans to six blood banks to facilitate the travel of registered and voluntary blood donors. The district administration has started a blood donation drive in association with local blood banks and the Indian Red Cross Society. Vadodara has six blood banks. The administration is also opening an online registration platform to allow new volunteers to donate blood. (03-04-2020)
‘Breakthrough Accelerator’ to seek solutions for Covid-19: The Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) has initiated a startup accelerator – ‘Breakthrough Accelerator’ – to invite ideas and proposals from startups and innovators that may offer solutions to the ongoing global Covid-19 crisis. The deadline for receiving the first round of applications is April 12, and for the second round April 22. Selected ideas and proposals will be nurtured and developed into concrete business models. Financial aid will also be provided. Ideas to combat the outbreak are pouring in, but it is necessary to provide them with end-to-end support on a single platform. The accelerator will be supported by UNICEF and various affiliations of the Gujarat University. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the Ahmedabad Smart City project are also partners of the accelerator. GUSEC is affiliated with the Student Support and Innovation Policy (SSIP) of the state government. It is also a nodal body for the state government’s startup scheme under the Industries Commissionerate and a Technology Business Incubator (TBI) under the Central government’s Department of Science and Technology. GUSEC will be partnering with healthcare and testing laboratories and get medical experts on board as mentors. (03-04-2020)
Gujarat fishermen feel safer off the coast: About 75,000 Gujarat fishermen are shielding themselves against Covid-19 by staying put in the sea after the lockdown was announced. The fishing community feels that perhaps the safest option for fishermen is to stay in their trawlers within a few kilometres of the coast. About 15,000 fishing trawlers connected to Okha, Jakhau, Porbandar, Mangrol, Veraval, Kotda, Wanakbara, Diu, Jaffrabad, Dholai and Umargam ports have been anchored between one and four kilometres of the coastline. The fishermen are being supplied essentials by boat owners on the coast. Fishing activity has been completely suspended due to the lockdown. The fishermen community decided that the fishermen will be safer in the sea. (03-04-2020)
Please do not circulate jokes or rumours about Covid-19: The detection of crime branch (DCB) has warned Barodians not to send memes or jokes about Covid-19. Even humorous memes and jokes can fuel rumours and the cops do not want to take any chances. The cops are keeping a watch on the social media so that people do not spread rumours. People should realise that this is no time to fuel rumours about Covid-19 or patients. Please be sensible and sensitive, and behave responsibly. (02-04-2020)
Helpline offers telemedicine and psychological counselling: The 1100 telemedicine and psychological counselling helpline of the Gujarat government had 250 callers within 15 hours of becoming operational. The helpline attempts to address the concerns of  those experiencing anxiety due to home quarantine, or those feeling restricted by the lockdown. Others feel lonely, or have gynaecological problems, or have lack of sleep, or feel uneasy, or are feeling fear. The helpline provides 24x7 counselling to callers. The calls are handled by experts. Calls related to physical health are diverted to the 104 helpline. (02-04-2020)
Vacant private properties offered by citizens as quarantine facilities: Some individuals and organisations have voluntarily offered their vacant properties to the government so that they can be used as quarantine facilities. A businessman offered three 3BHK apartments to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) to be used if needed for this purpose. The three apartments were vacant so the businessman offered them free of cost. VMC can use them and hand them back when they are no longer needed. An engineer working with Electrical Research and Development Association (ERDA) has also offered his spare apartment. Atmanand Jain Samaj has offered its dharamshala for a similar purpose; the dharamshala has 12 rooms and two halls. The district administration has taken over the Samras Hostel in Sama and hostels of resident and intern doctors of GMERS Medical College and Hospital in Gotri for converting them into quarantine facilities. (02-04-2020)
Private sector workers and labourers must be paid timely wages: The Gujarat government has asked district collectors to ensure that workers and labourers are paid timely wages by private sector employers. The state government has decided to set up a control room and a toll-free helpline to address workers' grievances regarding non-payment of wages by employers and other issues. A notification has been issued directing employers to pay full wages to workers in light of the ongoing lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This includes both formal and informal workers, including domestic staff. Action can be taken against industries, shops, commercial establishments or households who do not pay full salary to labourers and workers, both regular and casual or contract labour. (02-04-2020)
Lockdown rules eased on movements of goods carriers: The Gujarat government has eased lockdown restrictions through a government resolution (GR) freeing the movements of all kinds of goods carriers. Earlier, only those transporting food and essentials items were allowed. All collectors, police commissioners, district police authorities and RTO officers have now been directed to not restrict movements of any goods carriers. Now any goods carrier may move without any movement pass. This should help to restart many economic activities that were restricted by the lockdown. However, manpower issues may be faced by transporters as well as distributors and special permissions for movement of drivers, labourers and others involved in transport may also be needed. (01-04-2020)
No increase in power bills: The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) has kept power tariffs unchanged for the 2020-21 fiscal. GERC has also given relief to Below Poverty Line (BPL) customers and agricultural consumers using power for lift irrigation. There will be no increase in power tariffs for consumers of state-owned discoms and Torrent Power Ltd. Torrent Power Ltd. supplies electricity to Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Surat. The state-owned power distribution companies (discoms) are Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. (UGVCL), Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. (PGVCL), Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. (DGVCL) and Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. (MGVCL). GERC raised the applicability of Rs. 1.50 per unit concessional tariff to 50 units per month from 30 units. Energy charges for agriculture consumers using electricity for lift irrigation has been reduced from Rs. 1.50 per unit to Rs. 0.80 per unit. Night time consumption concession for HT consumers of state-owned discoms has also been increased from 40 paise per unit to 43 paise per unit. (01-04-2020)
Government will appoint senior doctors as teaching staff: Gujarat government’s health and family welfare department will for the first time appoint senior doctors as teaching staff in government medical colleges on an 11-month contract basis. This is due to the non-availability of permanent medical teaching staff in government and allied medical colleges. The non-availability of qualified teaching staff has an impact on necessary approvals apart from hampering medical education. The senior doctors on 11-months contract basis can either work full-time or work in government colleges even while carrying on with their practice. Class I grade professors will be paid Rs. 1.84 lakh per month for non-practicing full time service while practicing doctors will be given Rs. 1.60 lakh per month fixed amount. (01-04-2020)
GSFC will restart some plants next week: Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC) will restart some plants at Vadodara from next week. The ammonia Plant IV will begin start-up activities from April 6 and it will run at 55% load. The Urea-II plant will start on April 10 and production of urea will begin on April 11 at partial load. The plant will be loaded up gradually to 100%. The ammonium sulphate Plant-1 will start its operations on April 11. The company also has a manufacturing plant at Sikka (Jamnagar). (01-04-2020)
Gujarat forest department staff will assist police: The Gujarat state forest department has relieved 1,526 employees so that they can assist the state police in maintaining law and order during the Covid-19 crisis. This includes 75 range forest officers, 408 foresters and 1,043 beat guards. The forest department has over 7,000 employees. Forest department personnel enjoy some powers similar to the police. The forest department will of course retain the staff needed for wildlife management. There is a shortage of manpower in rural areas and forest department personnel who have a good hold in villages, which is useful in persuading people to stay indoors during the lockdown. (31-03-2020)
Isolation facilities available for 3,000 in Gujarat: As of Sunday, the Gujarat government had readied isolation facilities of 3,000 beds for confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases. Another 2,900 beds, with ICU and dedicated isolation facilities, will be operational in the next 10 days. Besides Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Rajkot and Vadodara, the authorities have directed each district to be equipped with at least 100 beds meant exclusively for Covid-19 cases. (31-03-2020)
104 mobile connections per 100 people in Gujarat: The 2018-19 projected Gujarat population is 6.68 crore, but the state has 6.92 crore cellular connections. The Socio-Economic Review for 2019-2020 indicates that 64% of Gujarat’s population uses the internet. As on October 31, 2019 there were 8,47,524 BSNL landline connections. According to TRAI data there are 6.92 crore GSM cellular connections (up to October 2019) and 4.26 crore internet subscribers (up to September 2019). It seems that BSNL is losing many landline subscribers; BSNL lost over two lakh connections, while the number of internet users and mobile users increased. Internet users increased by 1.29 crore in two years while cellular connections increased by 36 lakh. There are several people who use at least two mobile connections; one was only to contact to people while another was for internet and social media sites and messaging. In September 2019 Niti Aayog data revealed only 42 internet subscribers for every 100 people in Gujarat; by October end this figure reached 64 for every 100 people. Penetration of internet users is low because there are still many rural people who use phones only to speak to others and have no internet connection. (31-03-2020)
No lockdown on equipment and workers for farming: Movement of farming equipment, farmers and farm labourers will be exempted from lockdown, but the exemption should not be misused and the requirements of social distancing will remain applicable even when the farmers are working in the fields. About 80 % of the police force is involved in implementation of the lockdown; 70,000 police and SRP personnel and 30 thousand home guards are used for this purpose. (30-03-2020)
Power consumption slides by 50% following lockdown: The lockdown to contain the Covid-19 outbreak has hit the energy sector hard. Industrial power demand has fallen drastically and the overall electricity demand has seen a 50% reduction in the nine days of the lockdown. The minimum demand was 13,120 MW on March 18, which reduced to 10,361 MW on the day of the Janata Curfew on March 22, and fell to 6,386 MW on March 27. There is a reduction in power consumption under the Jyoti Gram Yojana as well. The state government is expected to bear a loss of around Rs. 500 crore in the form of electricity duty income in the lockdown period. (30-03-2020)
1,500 prisoners to be released to reduce threat of Covid-19 infection: The Gujarat government has decided to release about 1,500 prisoners from about 14,000 lodged in the state’s 33 jails. A high-power committee led by the Gujarat high court chief justice had proposed to the state government to release some of the prisoners to decrease the inmate density inside jail premises and reduce the threat of Covid-19 infection. The proposal has been accepted by the government. About 1,200 undertrials will be granted temporary bail and about 300 convicts will be granted parole or furlough up to 45 days. (30-03-2020)
Police arrest 13 persons for roaming around: Vadodara city police arrested 13 persons for roaming around without any purpose during the lockdown. The cops have been keeping a watch in different areas using CCTV and drone cameras. When these people were asked why they were moving around they did not have any valid reasons. Police cases for violation of public notification, doing an unlawful or negligent act and committing a malignant act likely to spread an infection that is dangerous to life. Over 3,800 persons have been caught in Gujarat for flouting government notifications as well as home quarantine rules. (29-03-2020)
Stay at home unless you have to move out for essentials: Unless you have to move out for essentials, please stay at home and please allow the police and the authorities to concentrate on more important work. The police have deployed drones fitted with high-definition cameras to ensure that people do not venture out aimlessly.
* Please do not loiter in the streets near your home.
* Please do not gather in your residential society’s common plot or garden or children’s play area.
* Please do not venture out under the pretext of buying provisions; it’s fine if you really have a convincing reason.
Remember, genuine people get inconvenienced when a few people behave irresponsibly. (28-03-2020)
Mobile app keeps track of quarantined persons: A smartphone application will be used across Gujarat to track persons who have been put under quarantine. The app has been launched in the state’s major cities. The app uses Geographic Information System (GIS) to track the person’s device in real time. It has a ‘geo fencing’ feature which alerts authorities if a home-quarantined person moves out of a specified area. Those who violate quarantine rules in Gujarat are sent to government-run quarantine facilities. The app detects location and records information on an hourly basis. It also provides details such as symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty in breathing twice a day. Another app is meant for state-based doctors and health professionals, helping them to report Covid-19 symptoms such as severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) to the state government for quicker identification of patients. So far, about 150 doctors have become part of the initiative. (28-03-2020)
Some services exempted from lockdown and ID proof: Amidst the lockdown announced by the government, there are a few services that have been exempted from lockdown to ensure that citizens gets essential supplies:
*All government, civic body and panchayat services
*Vehicles carrying milk, fruits, grocery
*Edible items, food items, medicine, pest control, production of essential items and civil supplies services
*Medical store, dispensary, hospital, laboratory, production of medical equipment and their research and development centres, pharmacy and health related services
*Fodder, grass for animals, medicine and treatment related items for animals
*Electricity production, distribution and maintenance services
*Internet, telephone, mobile service providers and IT related services
*Print, electronic and social media
*Water supply and sewerage services
*Petrol, diesel, LPG, CNG, PNG related services and production
*Bank, ATM and finance related services, clearing of banks, stock exchange and insurance services
*Post and courier service
*Vehicles carrying biomedical waste, waste carrying vehicles, vehicles carrying food items, vehicles carrying vegetables, loaded or unloaded
*Security services related to essential services
*All essential services related to transportation and distribution along with related e-commerce very essential services
*Industries which are producing items round the clock and who have enough facilities for workers
*People having passes issued by district magistrate, mamlatdar, DDO or TDO or municipal commissioner or deputy municipal commissioner or authority letter to visit a particular place
*Media people, reporter, cameraman or employee of any media house and their vehicles (27-03-2020)
Control room and helpline for supply of essential items in Gujarat: A control room and helpline to facilitate the supply of essential items such as milk, fruits and vegetables is functional in Gandhinagar. A helpline has been set up where where people can call and seek information about the availability of essential commodities. The control room will be operational 24x7 and people can seek assistance about availing of essential commodities by dialing1070 and 079-23251900. (27-03-2020)
All police stations need to be sanitised regularly: There are over 2,700 police personnel in Vadodara working at the city’s 24 police stations and different branch offices. Several people have made the suggestion that all police should be properly and regularly sanitised, specially in the current Covid-19 crisis. At present 90% of the police force is involved in field duties trying to make sure that the lockdown is followed by people. The police personnel are out on the roads and being exposed to possible hazards. When they finish duty they report back to their stations and then go back home. Extra care should be taken by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation to ensure that all police facilities are adequately sanitised. Of course, they are given face masks and hand sanitizers to protect themselves, but their offices too must be sanitised because so many citizens come there with their complaints. In addition to their normal duties, many police personnel are also engaged in helping to give supplies to the poor and the needy and stray animals. (26-03-2020)
Timing restrictions at fuel stations in Gujarat: During the countrywide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, fuel stations across Gujarat will observe timing restrictions from Thursday. Following a decision taken by Federation of Gujarat Petroleum Dealers’ Association, fuel stations across the state will remain open only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. About 4,000 petroleum dealers across the state will observe the timing restrictions. (26-03-2020)
Quarantine and treatment facilities for Covid-19 being increased in Vadodara: Serious efforts are being made to increase the facilities for quarantining and treating Covid-19 cases. The objective is to be able to quarantine 1,000 persons and treat 500 persons; this includes the already available facilities . The work of recruiting medical and paramedical staff for these facilities has also begun. According to Education Secretary Vinod Rao – appointed as secretary in-charge of Vadodara city and seven districts in central Gujarat for Covid-19 – the hostel for the training institute for the high-speed railway project will now be used to create a quarantine facility. The hostel has 165 twin-bed rooms with attached toilets; it can take in 330 people for quarantine. The other facilities: 360 persons at 180 rooms in hostels of the GMERS Medical College and Hospital at Gotri; 140 persons in the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare; 200 persons in the facilities of the city’s major petroleum and petrochemicals companies. Hotels in the city have also been identified, if needed. For patients testing positive for Covid-19 and suspected cases with severe respiratory infections, a 50-bed capacity already exists at GMERS, Gotri; another 100 beds are being added to this facility. The ESIS Hospital in Gotri will be upgraded to accommodate 200 patients for treatment, and the railway hospital at Pratapnagar is being equipped to handle 100 such patients. A capacity of over 100 beds will also be available for treating patients at private hospitals in the city. (26-03-2020)
Students of classes 1 to 9 and 11 will be promoted without exam: Due to the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown in Gujarat, the Gujarat government has decided that all students of Classes 1 to 9 and 11 will be promoted to higher standards without examinations. Examinations in primary schools were scheduled in March and April. More than 70 lakh students in nearly 55,000 schools across the state have been exempted from the final exams. Earlier, mass promotions happened in 1974 during the Navnirman agitation, in 1985 during the anti-reservation riots, in 2001 after the earthquake, and in 2002 after the post-Godhra riots. The state government has also withheld its plan to start the new academic session in April and said that it will roll out the plan from next year. The education department circular also exempts all teaching and non-teaching staff from going to schools unless they are specifically assigned work either by the state government or by the local administration. The teaching and non-teaching staff in self-financed schools has been exempted from school duties. (25-03-2020)
GMERS Gotri will be utilised for Covid-19: The Gujarat government has decided to convert the GMERS Gotri hospital into infectious disease control hospital to handle patients in view of the Covid-19 situation. All the 250 beds at GMERS Gotri Hospital will be used for Covid-19 cases. SSG Hospital has 25 beds in the isolation ward. The Gotri hospital is being equipped to handle other suspected Covid-19 cases. There are 622 quarantine centres in Vadodara district. (25-03-2020)
Covid-19 testing facility started at SSG Hospital: The SSG Hospital in Vadodara will itself test samples of patients who are admitted in the hospital with suspicion of coronavirus or are treated as Covid-19 suspects. Earlier, samples of such patients were sent to Ahmedabad’s B J Medical College and Civil Hospital. Testing of samples has started from Monday morning. This decision will help in speedy diagnosis. (25-03-2020)
This is what the lockdown implies: The Gujarat government has put in place a stringent lockdown in the entire state from Tuesday till March 31. Essential commodities will be allowed to be available for the public. The state home department issued a notification under the provisions of 'The Indian Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897' and 'The Gujarat Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulation 2020'. All the state's borders for transportation have been closed. Only essential services will be available: government and municipal corporations, municipalities, panchayat offices, stores selling milk, fruits, vegetables and medicines, hospitals and dispensaries, pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers, research and development centres and other healthcare services, services like electricity, insurance companies, IT related services like ISP, cell phone companies, railways and transportation services, media and newspaper services, fuel pumps, water supply and sewerage, banks, ATM, clearing houses of banks, stock exchanges, Post and Courier services, private security services, warehouses of all edible goods and products, medicines, pest control and essential goods manufacturing, transportation and civil supplies, and E-Commerce related to it. All the other services and businesses and other activities have been banned. The police department has already imposed CrPC section 144 in most of the cities of the state, banning the gathering of four or more people at one place. The government has also closed down swimming pools, recreational clubs, water parks, marriage halls, all educational institutions. (24-03-2020)
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