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AoL accuses NGT panel of bias, seeks its reconstitution

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New Delhi, May 30  The Art of Living (AoL) foundation headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday accused an expert committee formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) of bias and moved an application for its reconstitution.

After hearing preliminary arguments on AoL’s plea, the green court issued notice to environmentalist Manoj Misra, who had moved the tribunal against AoL, for his response.

“The Art of Living objects to the existing expert committee led by Sashi Shekhar, and including A.K. Gosain, Brij Gopal and C.R. Babu, who arrived at an arbitrary figure of Rs.120 crore based on a very brief and mere visual assessment without following the scientific process,” a statement issued by AoL’s chief spokesperson Sonia Madhok said.

Expressing doubts over the findings of the committee — appointed to examine the impact the World Culture Festival in March had on the ecologically fragile Yamuna floodplains — the AoL asserted: “The committee has pre-judged the issue and are under self-imposed pressure to justify that figure, creating a bias for itself.”

The NGT imposed an environment compensation of Rs.5 crore on AoL in March on the basis of a committee report.

Subsequently, the NGT formed a principal committee comprising officials of the environment ministry, National Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Water Resources Ministry, which is yet to submit its report.

The AoL has deposited just Rs25 Lakh of the compensation amount while the committee has so far not submitted its report despite repeated pulling up by the NGT.

The NGT will take up on August 2 arguments on a plea for contempt proceedings against the spiritual guru for his alleged statement terming the environment compensation as politically motivated.

Cities

Lockdown 4.0: Delhi sees more cases, deaths than previous editions combined

Similarly, lockdown 4.0 saw about 26 deaths per day on an average — over four times of the deaths reported in lockdown 3.0 between May 4 and 17.

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Coronavirus Treatment

New Delhi, June 2 : Lockdown 4.0 in Delhi — between May 18 and 31 — saw 10,780 new Covid cases and 363 deaths, which were more than the tally of previous editions combined, as per the Health Department data.

The national capital recorded 1,543 positive coronavirus cases in the first lockdown, 3,320 cases in the second, and 5,159 cases in the third edition of the nation-wide lockdown, resulting in a total of 10,022 cases.

In a similar fashion, the number of deaths due to the deadly virus in the first three phases of the lockdown were 31, 32, and 96, respectively — totalling 159 deaths in total.

The casualties more than doubled in the lockdown 4.0.

However, the increased number of deaths in the fourth edition was also due to late reporting of deaths by the hospitals, a Health Department official said.

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“The hospitals were not reporting the deaths in a timely manner. However, after the government directed, the deaths which occurred in the last 35-40 days were also reported, which contributed to the rise in toll,” the official told IANS.

It is significant to note that as the restrictions were gradually relaxed through the consequent lockdown phases, the number of cases and death also increased in the national capital.

In the first lockdown (March 25 – April 14), when only essential services were allowed to function and an almost complete restriction on movement was imposed, the city registered 73 cases and roughly one death per day on an average.

When the lockdown was imposed, Delhi had reported 35 cases and one death. However, within a week, with the Nizamuddin Markaz incident, the number of cases saw a jump.

With gradual reopening of shops in May and relaxations on movement of vehicles and resumption of public transport in lockdown 4.0, the number of positive cases kept increasing. Delhi has allowed more relaxations within the city from Monday.

The second edition of lockdown (April 15-May 3) recorded 174 cases per day on an average, while the death average remained roughly the same as the previous version.

The daily average, however, in lockdown 3.0 was about 369 cases and over six deaths reported daily.

Similarly, lockdown 4.0 saw about 26 deaths per day on an average — over four times of the deaths reported in lockdown 3.0 between May 4 and 17.

The per day average of positive cases in the lockdown 4.0, at 770, was also more than double of the average in the lockdown 3.0 at 369.

The total coronavirus cases in the city stood at 20,834 while the death toll mounted to 523 as of Monday.

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Liquor shops in Delhi to operate daily till 8 PM

It also said in case the shops allowed to operate comes under the containment zone in future, the same shall be closed immediately.

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New Delhi, June 1 : All government and private liquor shops, which were allowed to operate so far in Delhi, will be allowed to open all days a week, except dry days, between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., the Excise Department said on Monday.

An Excise Department official told IANS that an order has been issued which says all the shops having L-6 and L-8 licenses are allowed to function all day between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

While L-6 is for the government-run retail vends of Indian liquor, L-8 is for the retail vends of country liquor.

For the private shops, the order, a copy of which is with IANS, said only those which were allowed to operate on an odd-even basis after May 19 will be allowed all day and the timing has been changed from 9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. to between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. now.

Total 76 private liquor shops were allowed after May 19, the official added.

There are about 850 liquor shops in Delhi. However, close to 150 shops, which were in malls across the city, will continue to remain shut, the official said.

While the rules for timing have been changed, the other directives remain the same, the official added.

“They will deposit 70 per cent Special Corona Fee on total sales daily, which will be deducted from their ledger account linked with their Vend-ID in ESCIMS. They should, therefore, maintain the requisite balance in their ledger account,” the official told IANS.

“In case of any un-scanned sale, the MSR Gap generated shall be treated as the stock sold and 70 per cent Special Corona Fee shall be levied and payable on the same,” it added.

The Excise Department asked the shop owners to strictly comply with the National Directives for Covid-19 Management and to take all possible measures including deployment of adequate number of guards, proper barricading, marking to ensure social distancing, etc. in coordination with Delhi Police and local administration.

It also said in case the shops allowed to operate comes under the containment zone in future, the same shall be closed immediately.

From May 4, the standalone liquor shops were allowed in the city, while from May 19, even those in the market places were allowed on alternate days. On May 5, the government imposed the ”Special Corona Fee”, which was 70 per cent of the MRP. Till May 25, the government has earned Rs 127 crore as the special corona fee.

The Delhi government on Monday allowed all the shops to operate even in markets without any odd-even system.

–IANS

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Cities

Delhi DMs asked to identify additional land for cremation, burial

As of date, Delhi has reported 523 covid deaths since the outbreak of the infection. Also the cases count has crossed 20,000 mark, with 11,565 of them active cases.

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New Delhi, June 1 : The various District Magistrates in the national capital on Monday were asked to identify lands for cremation or burial grounds, which are reasonably away from the residential areas.

In a letter to all the District Magistrates of Delhi, Rajesh Goyal, Additional CEO, Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) demanded a report on the same by 4 p.m. on June 3.

The letter asked the DMs to identify places, spaces for creating additional capacity for patient beds as well as additional land for cremation and burial grounds.

“As you are aware that in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 patients in Delhi, it is imperative to plan in advance for enhancing the capacity of patient beds and also to identify additional cremation and burial grounds,” the letter reads.

It asked the DMs to identify and provide the information on top priority.

“Indoor air conditioned locations, preferably large multipurpose halls, banquet halls and indoor stadiums etc. for putting up extra beds for Covid-19 patients along with capacity of each such location,” it said.

It also demanded the present locations of cremation and burial grounds as well as “additionally identified locations or lands for cremation and burial grounds which are reasonably away from the residential areas”.

As of date, Delhi has reported 523 covid deaths since the outbreak of the infection. Also the cases count has crossed 20,000 mark, with 11,565 of them active cases.

–IANS

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