Parliament session: Congress leader demands compensation for families of migrant labourers who died during lockdown

Demand for inclusion of Punjabi among official languages in J-K

Parliament session: Congress leader demands compensation for families of migrant labourers who died during lockdown

Azad said Jammu and Kashmir Administration scrapped the scheme about four days ago

Ravi S Singh
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 16

In the discussion in Rajya Sabha on Union Health Minister Harshvardhan's statement on the status of COVID pandemic and action taken by Union government, Anand Sharma of the Congress demanded compensation for families of migrant labourers who died during the lockdown.

He flayed the government for its stand that there was no record of labourers who died.

"It is a shame," Sharma said and demanded the creation of a national database of migrant workers in the country.

Sharma questioned the move of imposing the lockdown at a short notice— within four hours of the announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Was the country prepared for it?" Sharma said, adding that had a sufficient notice period given for the lockdown, logistics would have been worked out by states.

He demanded beefing up of public health infrastructure in hindsight of wisdom gained in the wake of the outbreak of the pandemic.

The picture emanating of the exodus of labourers following the announcement of lockdown has portrayed a negative image of India.

Rajya Sabha passes Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill

Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020, with the majority of the Members taking part in the discussion on it and demanding the setting up research institutes pertaining Ayurveda discipline of medicine be set up in others states.

The proposed Institute in the Bill will be set up in Jamnagar in Gujarat.

Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Rajeev Satav during the Zero Hour on Monday raised the reports of a Chinese company mining data of important persons, including government dignitaries, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Demand for inclusion of Punjabi among official languages in J-K

Partap Singh Bajwa of the Congress and Balwinder Singh Bhunder of SAD on Wednesday expressed concern at Punjabi being kept out of the list of official languages in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

Raising the matter in Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour, they urged the Centre for the inclusion of Punjabi among official languages.

Bajwa said Punjabi is widely spoken in Jammu and Kashmir. The state of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir have a long-standing relationship.

Bhunder said that Punjabi is spoken all over the world."It is India's best language," Bhunder said.

The anomaly of leaving out Punjabi in the UT should be rectified, the SAD leader said.

Azad urges Centre to restore reservation for Engineers' SHGs in J-K govt contracts

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday expressed concern at the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir administration to scrap the scheme of reserving a share of government contracts works for Self Help Groups of Engineers.

He urged the Centre to intervene to ensure the restoration of the scheme which provides an avenue for self-employment to engineers.

Raising the matter during Zero Hour, Azad said the scheme was started in 2003 by Congress-PDP government.

As per the scheme, the Self Help Groups of the Engineers were awarded contract works. Over the years, 15,000 engineers had acquired expertise and evolved into contractors.

He said 10 per cent of government works were reserved for these engineers.

The group of such engineers who attained expertise were awarded works up to rupees one crore.

He said that since the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir was done away with, and during the turbulence, sectors like tourism have been adversely affected. There was a loss of jobs.

The Centre must intervene immediately to restore the scheme, Azad said.

5.4 crore COVID-19 samples tested; 40 lakh people under surveillance: Govt    

As many as 5.4 crore samples have been tested for coronavirus and 40 lakh people are under surveillance, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also said India is testing about one million samples a day at 1,697 laboratories across the country.

"As on September 10, a total of about 40 lakh persons have been kept under surveillance. A total of 5.4 crore samples have been tested so far," he said in a written reply to a question.

The minister said that as on September 10, a total of 15,290 COVID-19 treatment facilities with 13,14,171 dedicated isolation beds, without oxygen support, have been created.

Also, a total of 2,31,269 oxygen-supported isolation beds and 62,694 ICU beds (including 32,241 ventilator beds) are available in the country, he said.

Guidelines on clinical management of COVID-19 have been issued and are being updated regularly, he said.

Rai said states are being supported in terms of supply of logistics and as on 10th September, 1.39 crore PPE kits, 3.42 crore N-95 masks, 10.84 crore Hydroxychloroquine tablets and 29,779 ventilators and 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders have been supplied to states, union territories and central government hospitals.

The central government has taken a series of actions to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and India followed a ‘whole of government and whole of society' approach, he said.Rai said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a high-level Group of Ministers (GoM), the Cabinet Secretary, a Committee of Secretaries and senior officers in the Union Health Ministry continue to monitor public health response to COVID-19 in the country.

Public health actions were taken in a preemptive, proactive and graded manner based on the evolving scenario, he said.

The minister said a number of travel advisories were issued restricting the inflow of international travelers, and commercial flights were suspended on March 23. 

A total of 14,154 flights with 15,24,266 passengers have been screened at airports and screening was also done at 12 major and 65 minor ports and land border crossings, he said.

Rai said that in the initial part of the pandemic, India evacuated a large number of stranded passengers from then COVID-19 affected countries (China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Malaysia) and again in the un-lockdown phase, a total of 12,43,176 passengers have been brought back (as on September 9) and followed up.

He said the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is conducting contact-tracing through community surveillance.

In the earlier part of the pandemic, this was done for travel-related cases and subsequently for cases being reported from community as a part of containment strategy, he said. --with PTI

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