J&K starts easing out restrictions; brick kilns to operate in Jammu division

Jammu: Brick kilns will resume operations in Jammu as Lt Governor G C Murmu gave orders of easing out lockdown restrictions in the division, except in areas declared as ‘red zones’, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The move came a day after the administration constituted a committee for resumption of commercial and industrial activities in a controlled manner in the Union Territory.

“Brick kilns be allowed to function and owners of these kilns be directed to strictly observe the protocols like social distancing for labourers etc, working in these kilns,” Additional Secretary to Lt Governor, Rakesh Magotra said in a letter to Jammu divisional commissioner.

He said since the Centre has extended the lockdown up to May 3, the administration has to ensure hassle-free supply and distribution of commodities of daily need to the public at large.

The letter said timings for opening of shops selling essential commodities will be increased to avoid overcrowding, while goods stored by dry fruit sellers in their shops or godowns may be allowed to be transported to cold storages in a systematic and staggered manner.

“Load carriers are allowed to enter the city premises during the lockdown before 9 pm to unload essential commodities. A plan be devised for opening of business entities engaged in non-essential items like mobiles, books etc in a staggered manner, fixing days in a week during which certain trades shall be allowed to open,” the letter read.

Magotra asserted that standard operating procedures be devised for strict compliance by these traders.

Interacting with traders and representatives of various associations at Raj Bhavan here on Tuesday, the Lt Governor said a committee has been constituted for resumption of commercial and industrial activities in a controlled manner.

The Lt Governor was informed that around 50,000 labourers working in brick kilns across Jammu were left stranded due to the lockdown, with a request to allow the operations of these kiln units.

Later in an order, the General Administration Department (GAD) said sanction has been accorded to the constitution of an eight-member task force for restoring economic activities and employment process in the Union Territory.

“The terms of the reference of the task force include developing a strategy or action plan for restoring normal economic activities in all sectors in the Union Territory and to develop a package for assistance to industry, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry sectors to ensure their normal functioning,” the order issued by Additional Secretary Rohit Sharma said.

It said the task force will also finalise a time-bound plan for recruitment to government job vacancies at different levels along with the process to be followed for early recruitment, keeping in mind the fiscal balance and monitoring the recruitment process.

The order said the task force would submit the recommendations on the recruitment and action plan by May 15 and May 30, respectively.

Meanwhile, 29 senior officers, including 23 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and five Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) officers, have been assigned the task related to COVID-19 management in addition to their duties.

“Financial Commissioner (Health & Medical Education department) Atal Dulloo would be the overall in-charge of Union Territory Coordination – COVID-19 response effort.

“… while Financial Commissioner (Finance department) Arun Kumar Mehta has been designated as nodal officer for coordination with banks and maintaining smooth flow of funds to the public and to relief efforts; and monitor implementation of Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana,” a separate order issued by the GAD said.

Principal Secretary (home) Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary (school education department) Asgar Hassan Samoon and secretary (higher education department) were appointed as nodal officers for mobilsation of volunteers, training, deployment (as and when required) for assistance to the administration in COVID-19 management.

Principal Secretary (housing and urban development department) Dheeraj Gupta was appointed as nodal officer for coordination with urban local bodies (including their elected representatives) for COVID-19 management activities, the order said.

Such activities include sanitation drives, fumigation and to assist health department in devising administrative mechanism for planning, conduct and supervision of door-to-door survey in Jammu and Srinagar cities to ascertain the spread of COVID-19, the order added.

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