Delhi’s Lockdown Limitations To Be Eased Partially From 31st May
By – Ashwathy Nair
Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister, declared on Friday (28th May) that the city’s construction sector and manufacturers will reopen on Monday (31st May).
This declaration marks the start of the process of easing the continuing lockdown, which was established on 19th April in response to an unusual rise in Covid-19 cases. It has already been extended at least five times.
“In a month, we’ve had a lot of control over this wave. In the last 24 hours, over 1,100 new cases were reported, with a positive rate of around 1.5 percent. There is no lack of hospital beds, ICU beds, or oxygen right now. As a result, we must begin the un-lockdown procedure. We must not end up in a situation where people survive Covid-19 but die of poverty,” Kejriwal stated in a live-streamed video press conference on Friday (28th May).
On 20th April, the city of Delhi registered 28,395 cases along with a positive rate of more than 36% on 22nd April. On 19th April, Delhi was placed under complete lockdown.
“The current lockdown will be practised till 5 a.m. Monday,” Kejriwal added. Then the process of unlocking will begin. The decision was passed today (28th May) at the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) meeting.
Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal chairs the DDMA, with Kejriwal serving as Vice-Chairperson.
“We will be concerned about the weaker economic sections during the un-lockdown procedure. As a result, we’ll begin with labourers, particularly migrant labourers. The majority of them work in the construction industry or factories. As a result, these two sectors will be opening on Monday (31st May). However, we must keep in mind that the war against Covid-19 is far from over. We must ensure that things do not deteriorate further. As a result, the relaxations must be eased in,” according to Kejriwal.
All economic operations are prohibited under the current lockdown guidelines, with the exception of people, institutes, and businesses engaged in the delivery of necessary products and services. Under the current regulations, all factories in the city are barred from operating, except for those who manufacture face masks, hand sanitisers, and other Covid-19 protection-related goods. Construction activities are also prohibited, except for those that have provisions for sheltering labourers on-site following social distance and other hygienic norms required for protection against Covid-19.
“Now, week by week, based on public and expert judgement, we will widen the progressive relaxing procedure,” Kejriwal stated. “However, if the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise, we will have to halt all economic operations once more. As a result, I strongly encourage everyone to properly follow all restrictions and Covid-19 proper behaviour. Covid-19 can only be controlled in this manner. Only leave the house if absolutely essential. A lockdown is not something we support. We are aware of the negative consequences. As a result, we don’t want to see that happen again.”
The city’s construction and factory workers’ unions hailed the decision as a “relief,” but warned that the city will face a labour shortage in the following days as a big number of migrant workers who departed during the lockdown are unlikely to return anytime soon.
“The un-lockdown project will be providing significant relief to lakhs of factory workers in Delhi. However, a significant number of people have already departed and without a job assurance, they are not ready to return to Delhi very soon. They and their families in the villages have been afflicted by the sickness. The majority of them have also run out of cash.,” said Rajesh Kumar, general secretary (Delhi) of the Indian Federation of Trade Unions.
“Then there is a concern of another potential wave of Covid-19,” said Thaneshwar Adigaur, a convener of Nirmal Majdoor Adhikar Abhiyan, a combined forum of 40 construction sector labour unions in Delhi.
“Migrant workers’ children will no longer be compelled to attend physical education classes in public schools in t he coming years Those who have fled to the villages are likely to stay for a few months longer. The announced easing, on the other hand, will be a tremendous comfort for the construction workers who stayed back and those who want to return.”
More than 800,000 migrant labourers left Delhi for their home states in buses from the three interstate bus terminals in the first four weeks of the lockdown, according to two separate reports published last week, and the government kept no record of those who left in trains during the same period.
A substantial number of them are also infected with the virus, which is spreading through states’ communities. Many of them are unable to leave family members who are healing, or they are out of money and without a safety net in the absence of a job guarantee, and they are fearful of another Covid-19 outbreak in the coming days. As a result, even if the lockdown is lifted, a huge percentage of them are unlikely to return anytime soon.
“Factory owners, too, are in rough condition, and as a result, they are hesitant to expand their workforce beyond a certain point,” said Neeraj Sehgal, a factory owner and general secretary of the Mayapuri Industrial Area Welfare Group in Delhi. “Manufacturing capacity is expected to remain below 50% for the next three months due to financial losses caused by the pandemic. It would be fantastic if the government also considered relaxations for the industrial sector, such as rent relief, tax relief, and exemptions on at least fixed electric and water charges.”