Centre advises states to ensure adequate water supply in rural areas during lockdown
As frequent hand washing with soap and water is the most-effective measure to control the spread of coronavirus, the Health Ministry has issued an advisory to states to ensure adequate supply of potable water during lockdown, particularly in rural areas. The ministry highlighted the need to augment supply in water-deficient areas and give special care to vulnerable sections such as people in relief camps, places of quarantine, hospitals, old-age homes and slums. It has also asked the states to assess the availability of water-purifying chemicals and to ensure round-the-clock vigil and functionality of water supply systems. (Business Insider India)
Release of funds under MGNREGA accelerated to fight rural distress
In order to alleviate the distress of the rural poor, affected by the Coronavirus lockdown, the Centre has released Rs 7,190 crore or 12 percent of the financial year 2020-21 budget outlay for the rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGA) since April 1. Moreover, in the final days of March, the government even cleared a large part of the wage-and-material payment arrears to states, amounting to some Rs 12,000 crore, which also helped the latter to address the rural distress in a timely manner.
Further, the government has also issued guidelines to broaden the scope of works on a pilot basis within the framework of MGNREGA Act, 2015 to tackle the socio-economic crisis arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(The Financial Express)
J&K government orders cutting down poplars in the state to check COVID-19 outbreak
The Jammu & Kashmir government has ordered the cutting of thousands of female poplar trees in Kashmir to check the spread of Covid-19 infections. The government is going by the local belief, which says that poplars, (Populus deltoids) of a variety imported from Russia in 1982 which now line almost every roadside in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir, are responsible for allergies and spread of respiratory infections. However, as per botanists, there is no scientific proof of this and trees produce oxygen that actually improve lung capacity of all animal life in their vicinity. (The Thirdpole.net)
In a spree to restart dam building in Arunachal Pradesh, CM warns those opposing the projects
The Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh has issued a warning to anyone opposing any dam building in the state. The warning from the CM and Environment Ministry's approval to forest clearance for the 2,880 MW Dibang hydro project, despite strong opposition from locals, are indications that the dam building will soon restart in the state once the lockdown to prevent COVID-19 will be lifted.
Although the state government is keen to go ahead with hydropower development, it has no response to the concerns regarding economic, ecological and seismic viability of the projects and the simultaneous opening of multiple dams.
Odisha relaxes lockdown norms for agriculture, allied activities in second phase of lockdown
During the second phase of lockdown in the state from April 15, the Odisha government has announced relaxation of some restrictions for agriculture, fisheries and allied activities. However, there will be no such relaxation in Bhubaneswar since it has emerged as a coronavirus hotspot in the state and no agricultural activity or MGNREGA work takes place in the state capital. The government has also allowed plantation and related activities, construction and repair work of water bodies in forest and sanctuaries areas and drinking water pipelines and tube wells. (India Today)
This is a roundup of important policy matters from April 7 - 14, 2020. Also, read news this week.