Arunachal extends ‘lockdown’ till April 30; several measures announced

The lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 across Arunachal Pradesh will continue till April 30 with certain ‘relaxations’ to bring in some sense of normalcy.

The state cabinet met on April 13 for the third time in less than three days to assess the impact of the lockdown in view of the COVID-19 pandemic that was scheduled to end on Tuesday and took some key decisions.

From April 15, government offices in the districts will become operational with multi-tasking staff on a rotational basis while essential departments in the Capital Complex including state-level offices such as directorates, heads of offices, and the secretariat will work on the same principle.

A number of department offices in the Capital Complex described as ‘non-essential’ will remain closed during this period.

Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar on April 13 said that these ‘non-essential’ departments can continue to work as the staff can be reached digitally.

In order to keep the economy running, all agricultural, horticultural and MGNREGA-related work will resume in view of it being farming season. Tea garden operations will be allowed to be carried on until 3 pm and factories within the estate premises can operate beyond the specified time.

However, all work that requires labour will have to be conducted within social-distancing norms and the mandatory use of masks.

Kumar said that the masks do not have to be clinically-prescribed and that people can use thick-layered homemade masks.

The deputy commissioners will regulate the labour movement within the districts and no one will be allowed to enter or exit the district where they are or even enter or leave the state.

The chief secretary said that major industries with in-house labourers will be allowed to resume after acquiring approval from the respective deputy commissioners on a “case-to-case basis”.

Construction and infrastructure work will also be permitted to resume work but no new workers will be allowed to be brought in to the state and the movement of materials will have to be approved from the DCs.

For travel within the state, the state government has decided that private vehicles will not be permitted to ply.

However, disinfected state transport buses with 50 per cent occupancy will allow for people’s movement within the state following social distancing norms and the mandatory wearing of masks and using hand sanitizers.

Kumar said that gaon burahs (village headmen) and villagers from areas along the Arunachal-Assam boundary will be involved to ensure that there is no in or out-migration.

The chief secretary informed that the state government has requested that train services to and from the state should remain suspended after the April 14 deadline of the national lockdown.

Although it is unclear until Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message scheduled for Tuesday, inter-state travel remains suspended so far. However, a number of students from the state living outside have made calls to return and the state government has been collating their numbers.

They, including students and working professionals, have now been urged to remain where they are instead of planning trips to return.

In order to ease their stay away from their homes, the state government has appointed senior officers as nodal officer for each state based on the rapport that the officers have with their colleagues in these states.

Around Rs 53 crore as post-matric scholarship to 20,500 students and Arunachal Pradesh stipend scheme to 18,094 students will be released by April 17.

Additionally, the chief secretary said that the ICU in TRIHMS and Pasighat General Hospital have been made operational. The government is in the process of setting up smaller ICUs at Aalo, Khonsa, Tawang, Tezu, and Ziro within this month.

Kumar said that the state has a “comfortable stock” of 2,000 metric tonne of rice in the state which can cater to three months’ needs. He also said that the DCs and food-producing organisations will co-ordinate to allow for the transportation of vegetables from the western part of the state where production is high.

He also said that the state is receiving “sizeable assistance” from the Centre, and that the state currently has 1,300 Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) and is expecting to receive 3,000 of them in the next 48 hours.

“We are working to bring in 20,000 PPEs and the supply line has improved a lot,” he said, adding that there is a “good quantity” of N95 masks.

Ranju Dodum
About Ranju Dodum

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Ranju Dodum is a journalist based out of Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh.