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Coronavirus lockdown: update of NPR and Census 2021 postponed

Total cases at 606, death toll reaches 10; 'social distancing' at cabinet meeting

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 25.03.20, 9:42 PM
  • Updated 25.03.20, 9:51 PM
  • 5 mins read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the cabinet meeting where ministers practised 'social distancing' on Wednesday (PTI photo)

The National Population Register (NPR) update and the first phase of Census 2021 have been postponed due to the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials said on Wednesday.

Both the exercises were supposed to be carried out from April 1 to September 30.

In a statement, the home ministry said Census 2021 was scheduled to be conducted in two phases -- house listing and housing census during April-September and population enumeration during February 9 to 28.

The updating of the NPR was also proposed to be done along with the Phase I of Census 2021 in all the states and Union territories, except Assam.

The home ministry said due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, high alert has been declared by the Centre as well as the states and Union territories.

Keeping in view these issues, the first phase of Census 2021 and updating of NPR, which was to begin on various dates decided by the state and Union territory governments beginning April 1 and various related field activities, are postponed until further orders, the statement said.

Officials said since the Census and NPR exercises require the enumerators to visit every household and meet people, such exercises are not possible to be carried out due to the prevailing lockdown.

The states which have been opposing the NPR include Kerala, Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.

Cases climb to 606

Nearly 90 more coronavirus cases were reported in India, taking the total number of cases to 606 on Wednesday, according to health ministry data. The number of deaths due to the disease stood at 10.

The number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 553, while 43 people have been cured, discharged or migrated. The 606 cases include 43 foreign nationals, the ministry said.

On Tuesday, the number of cases was 519.

The death toll due to the virus increased to 10 with another death being reported from Maharashtra, according to the data.

In the updated figures at 6.45pm on Wednesday, the ministry stated that Maharashtra has reported three deaths and one death each was reported from Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, Bengal and Himachal Pradesh.

The ministry said Maharashtra had reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases so far at 128, including three foreign nationals, followed by Kerala which has recorded 109 cases, including eight foreign nationals.

Karnataka has reported 41 cases of coronavirus patients, while cases in Gujarat rose to 38, including one foreigner.

Cases in Uttar Pradesh rose to 37, including a foreigner. The number of cases in Rajasthan increased to 36, including two foreigners, while the positive cases in Telangana stood at 35, including 10 foreigners.

Cases in Delhi rose to 31, including one foreigner. Punjab reported 29 cases while in Haryana, there are 28 cases, including 14 foreigners.

Madhya Pradesh recorded 14 cases, Ladakh has 13, while Tamil Nadu has reported 18 cases, including two foreigners.

Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have nine patients each. Chandigarh as well as Jammu and Kashmir have reported seven cases each so far. Uttarakhand has four cases, including one foreigner. Bihar also has four cases.

There are three cases in Himachal Pradesh while there are two cases in Odisha. Puducherry, Mizoram, Manipur and Chhattisgarh have reported a case each.

Must extend support to Modi: Chidambaram

Former Union finance minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Wednesday described the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "watershed moment" in the battle against Covid-19 and called him the commander and the people as "footsoldiers".

In a statement, Chidambaram also suggested a 10-point plan to put money in the bank accounts of the poor and the marginalised, including farmers and labourers, and demanded a cut in GST rates by 5 per cent on all wage goods, essential goods and services, and all goods of mass consumption from April 1 to June 30, 2020.

"The Prime Minister's announcement yesterday of a nationwide 21-day lockdown is a watershed moment in the battle against Covid-19. We should put behind us the debates that took place before March 24 and look upon the nationwide lockdown as the beginning of a new battle in which the people are the footsoldiers and the PM is the Commander."

"We owe a duty to extend our total support to the Prime Minister and the central and state governments, he said.

Social distancing at Union cabinet meeting

The large oval table was gone and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministerial colleagues sat in chairs kept at a distance from each other as they practised "social distancing" to combat the coronavirus during a cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Pictures showed that the ministers were facing the Prime Minister and small side tables were provided next to their chairs to allow them to keep their documents.

Usually, the cabinet members sit around an oval table during the meeting.

Measures at Bengal ration shops

The Bengal government has asked ration shop owners to draw circles every 1m at counters for customers amid reports of people crowding to buy essentials. The customers will advance one by one, food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriyo Mallick said on Wednesday.

“There is no need for panic buying of essential food items as all ration shops will remain open daily,” he said. Some privately owned shops in the city took similar initiatives.

However, vegetable and fish markets on Wednesday continued to see people jostling with each other for essential goods over the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day earlier.

Paying little heed to repeated announcements that shops selling food, medicine and other essential items will remain open during the lockdown period, people stood in serpentine queues for hours to buy items.

Calcutta police personnel made rounds of the city’s streets making announcements asking people not to hoard goods.

Ration delivery to Srinagar homes

Around 1.60 lakh families in Srinagar will get ration delivered to their homes from Saturday as part of measures by the administration to contain the spread of coronavirus in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir amid the lockdown announced by the government.

“Home-delivery of PDS (public distribution system) ration to 1.60 lakh families in #Srinagar will start from 28th March under strict safety-protocol. Depts (departments) of Food, Agri (agriculture), police along with magistrates, SRTC (State Road Transport Corporation), SMC (Srinagar Municipal Corporation) and volunteers included. Pl #StayAtHome and #BreakTheChain. Spread the word,” district development commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary, wrote on Twitter.

In another tweet, Choudhary said the district disaster management authority, Srinagar and Srinagar Smart City, had launched a social protection plan to help women, children, poor and destitute, specially abled and the elderly in need of food or medicines or emergency services. “DDMA & Srinagar Smart City launched social protection plan from today - women, children, poor/destitute, specially-abled, aged, & others in need - food packets, medicines, emergent help/services,” he posted.

Calcutta police on the offensive

As many as 871 people have been arrested in Calcutta in a span of 24 hours since Tuesday 5pm for defying the lockdown imposed by the government in its attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19, a senior police officer said.

The arrests were made by the Calcutta police during naka checking and patrolling across the length and breadth of the city, he said.

The arrested will be prosecuted under sections of the IPC dealing with disobedience of order, the officer added.

Earlier in the day, a woman allegedly tried to assault a policeman and bite him in Salt Lake when her car was stopped for defying the lockdown.