Bengal against exam plan conveyed by UGC

Bengal against exam plan conveyed by UGC

State govt maintains it would not be ‘appropriate’ to conduct the final tests by September and “appropriate” to conduct the final exams of graduating students in colleges and universities by September, as told by the UGC on July 6.The letter from higher education secretary Manish Jain to the human resource development ministry cites the rising Covid-19 cases across Bengal and the inability of poor students in rural areas to access the Net to explain why the exams should not be held by September.

The letter says the “guidelines” issued through the July 6 advisory “is surely at a variance with the guidelines” issued in April. The new guidelines, which call for the exams to be held by September, do not give the “required flexibility” to the institutions.

Jain’s letter also objected to the use of the word “compulsorily” and said it went against the federal structure of the country.

“Statement like final term examination should be conducted ‘compulsorily’… is only against the spirit of the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution of India as ‘education’ is placed in the concurrent list…,” the letter states.

It also says: “With the current trend of rise in COVID cases since April and the study done by the world’s leading institution, we are not sure whether the situation will be conducive for the conduct of offline examination by September in a vast country like India.”

As for the lack of internet access among a section of students, Jain has written: “Besides, by going through the statistics of the government of India on digital access across the country, it will not be appropriate to hold online exams, which would be discriminatory against a large section of students, especially poor and rural students, who do not have access to the Internet, computer, etc”.

The UGC had on July 6 said final-year undergraduate and master’s students would have to appear in exams to get their degrees and that the terminal exams would “be conducted by the universities/institutions by the end of September in off-line (pen and paper)/ online/ blended (online + offline) mode”.

Jain has mentioned in his letter that many educational institutions are being used as quarantine centres. An official said assembly on such campuses, without which pen-and-paper tests could not be held, was not possible.

The letter says: “This decision to conduct the examination by September will not only affect public health, but also have an economic impact on students who would be put at a disadvantage vis-à-vis students of other autonomous universities or students of other countries”.

Pleading for a reconsideration of the advisory, Jain has written: “I would kindly request you to reexamine the entire matter in the interest of physical/ mental well-being of the students and future prospects….”

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When parents invade online classes and do kids’ work

When parents invade online classes and do kids’ work

Guardians racing one another to finish assignments; detrimental, say teachers
Parents of some primary schoolchildren are doing their school assignments instead of letting them do it, some teachers have said.

At times, they are even competing with other parents to be the first to upload such assignments on their common WhatsApp groups, the teachers have said. This leaves those who want their children to take some time and work on the assignments themselves annoyed.

Some institutions have strictly told parents not to log in from multiple devices, there are some parents who use one of the earphones or sit beside the child and “attend classes”, according to some teachers.

The level of efficiency in an assignment is often a dead giveaway and at times the child unwittingly reveals he/she did not do the assignment when he/she fails to answer questions on the work the very next day, a teacher said.

A few schools have been counselling parents this is “no way of recognition when the child is not learning” and that instead of helping the child parents are spoiling them.

“In our school, the teacher moves up in class with the child… some of them have noticed that suddenly some are able to do all the work assigned to them perfectly, mostly in Classes II to V,” Nupur Ghosh, vice principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy, said. “The teacher can understand it is being done by the parent and in the process the child is not learning.”

Prompting answers during classes is common but now it has become “a kind of competition among parents”.

“As soon as the teacher posts a certain assignment on the WhatsApp group, within minutes parents start uploading completed assignments,” a private firm employee whose daughter is the student of a missionary school said. “It is impossible for a child in the primary section to complete it so fast.”

In fact, on some occasions, parents ask teachers to give them more work, making it difficult for other parents who want their children to do assignments on their own.

Teachers have got reports of parents comparing notes on what has been taught in the other section and whether their section has missed any portion. “They did so when children were attending school and perhaps now even more,” the principal of a school in central Calcutta said.

Though some parents have started going back to work, some are at home and teachers have noticed that assignments are turning into ones for parents and not the children.

At South Point School, children of Classes III, IV and V are being quizzed on all subjects to understand how much they have learnt.

“It is a tool for teachers to understand how much the child has learnt and if parents intervene the teachers will not know how much the child has grasped… since parents are at home they are helping the child and in the process they are not allowing the child to grow on their own,” Dalbir Kaur Chadda, principal, South Point School, said.

Parents are helping because they want their child to excel and though in an online or virtual class certain monitoring is required parents should know where to draw a line, Chadda said.

“Whenever there is a certain competition, parents race each other… they do not want their children to perform poorly. This creates pressure on the child,” the head of a school in south Calcutta said.

Schools are either counselling parents, telling them that it is detrimental for the child. “We have video sessions in the presence of the child to counsel them that we understand parents are looking for recognition… but this is no way of attaining one when the child is not learning… because children are innocent it is they who reveal,” Ghosh said.

“There have been a few cases and we have counselled parents. It is easy to understand because teachers know exactly what the child is capable of doing,” Minnie Sengupta, the principal of Birla High School Mukundapur, said.

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Health department panel lists hospital lapses

Health department panel lists hospital lapses

A six-member team of doctors has been visiting Covid-19 facilities to check if treatment protocols are being followed

Doctors and nurses are not monitoring the health of Covid-19 patients close enough in various state-run and private hospitals, a health department team has said after visiting some such hospitals.

There have been multiple instances of doctors being unaware of the oxygen saturation level in the blood of some Covid-19 patients.

They don’t know if the right level is being maintained or if any patient has developed any complication anywhere, including in the heart or the kidneys, the team has said in its report.

A six-member team of doctors have been visiting Covid hospitals to check if treatment protocols are being followed. They have issued three advisories on three consecutive days since Monday.

“The experts from the protocol management team… have visited various Covid hospitals from time to time in the past few weeks and noted certain deficiencies in the clinical management of patients,” one of the advisories have said.

For over a week now, the department has been posting the observations so that hospitals can make necessary amendments based on the recommendations.

Some of these include asking the hospitals to draw up a proper ventilation strategy, setting up separate isolation wards for suspected patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness and using antibiotics judiciously.

On Thursday, the team toured MR Bangur Hospital for more than two hours. At the end of it, the team recommended that more than 100 Covid patients be discharged. Most of them have been admitted to the hospital for a week or 10 days and the officials found them fit enough to be discharged.

The team doctors were taken aback when most of these patients told them how happy they were to see them by their bedside. These patients had not shown any symptoms of infection for the past three days.

They do not have the potential to transmit the virus, one of the visiting doctors said.

The patients told them that they were eager to return home. The team, too, wanted it because freeing beds would mean creating space for new ones.

“Protocols for the release of Covid-19 patients are changing rapidly. Earlier, a patient would remain in hospital for three weeks. Later, it was reduced to 10 days,” Gopal Krishna Dhali, the head of the gastroenterology department at SSKM Hospital, said.

Dhali is leading the team of doctors to check if treatment protocols are being followed in Covid hospitals.

“Doctors will have to be more proactive and constantly monitor patients and feel empowered to take a call. A patient who has been admitted for 10 days and has not been showing any symptoms for three days can be discharged with proper advice,” he said.

The lapses stemmed primarily from doctors and health workers who don’t visiting patients regularly, some of the doctors in the team and health department officials said.

“We have emphasised that a doctor must see a patient properly. It will help in identifying what the patient requires at any given point of time,” one of the doctors in the team said.

The health department has set up the team to monitor Covid hospitals. “The management of a private hospital in Howrah, for instance, has been asked to take an expert’s opinion in case patients develop complications of the heart or kidneys,” the doctor said. “But unless doctors closely monitor patients, how will they know which expert opinion is required?”

The team has noticed flaws in the data that is being maintained for Covid patients, including daily blood pres-sure levels, body temperature and response to antibiotics and steroids. The primary reason behind this: doctors don’t visit patients regularly.

Quick response teams, as proposed by the government, have been set up at many hospitals. But the teams are not being able to respond quickly because proper data regard-ing various parameters of Covid patients are not being fed into the system, the team has said.

In some hospitals, there is “slackness” in donning and doffing personal protective equipment by all members of the staff of a hospital, including Group-D employees, according to the team.

Donning and doffing is the practice of putting on and taking off the protective gear.

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Essential service workers in containment zones ‘need nod’

Essential service workers in containment zones ‘need nod’

Essential service workers living in containment zones will have to ask police personnel deployed at the boundaries of those areas whether they can leave for work. It has been left to the discretion of the cops to decide whether they can do so, officers said on Thursday.

According to a list published on Wednesday, the Calcutta municipal area has 25 containment zones.

The general consensus among officials of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation was that doctors and other healthcare workers living in containment zones will be allowed to leave for work.

But there was no decision yet about people working in banks, oil and gas sector, telecom firms, power utilities and media companies. All of them were treated as emergency service providers during the nationwide lockdown.

“The general rule is not to allow anyone to leave a containment zone but we will decide on a case-by-case basis,” a Calcutta police officer said. “Since this is not a nationwide or statewide lockdown, there is no order on what to be done. The decisions will be taken by police personnel posted at the barricades marking the boundaries of containment zones.”

Police and ward coordinators in some places in Cal-cutta have created WhatsApp groups for residents of containment zones. The residents could place requests for essential items to be delivered to them on these groups.

Eight buildings on Chakraberia Road, part of Ward 70, fall in a containment zone. “A WhatsApp group has been created for residents of each building. The officer-in-charge of Bhowanipore police station and I are members of all the groups. The residents have been asked to place their requests for essential items on their respective groups by 8am. We will try to deliver them by 10am,” said Asim Bose, the coordinator of the ward.

In most containment zones, residents have been asked to call the local police station if they need any help. In Kasba’s Swinhoe Lane, some residents said they were waiting for more clarity.

“We are a little confused about how we will get groceries and vegetables. I hope clearer announcements would be made by tonight or tomorrow morning,” said a schoolteacher who lives in a containment zone.

In Ultadanga, too, residents have been asked to call the local police station for help.

Some people stocked up on essential supplies before the lockdown kicked in at 5pm on Thursday. Rajdeep Banerjee, an IT executive who lives on the fifth floor of a six-storey building on Chakraberia Road, said his family had procured essentials that would last them for several days.

The lockdown will be in force for at least seven days, after which the authorities will review the situation and decide whether it needs to be extended, officials in the civic body said.

In Salt Lake, too, WhatsApp groups with police officers and councillors as members have been created for residents of many containment zones. In FD block, the residents’ association has readied a group of around a dozen volunteers.

“The volunteers will ensure that residents get uninterrupted supply of essentials,” said Banibrata Banerjee, a resident of the block and also a councillor of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation.

Within containment zones, residents of the buildings from where Covid cases have been reported have been asked not to step out. “These buildings are like containment units within a containment zone. The buildings have been completely sealed and residents asked not to step out. If they need anything, that will be supplied at the gate of each building,” said a police officer.

But residents of other buildings in a containment zone have to collect their essential supplies at the barricades put up at the boundary.

In some places, the police have asked housing complexes to choose volunteers from among themselves who could coordinate with cops. In Phoolbagan and Ultadanga, the police have announced the mobile numbers of officers in the respective police stations whom residents can contact for any urgent help.

Residents of Satyam Towers in Alipore, which is a containment zone and has been sealed, have been offered help by the local police. “Lockdown creates inconvenience. But we have to understand that it is for greater good. Officers of Alipore police station have told us to alert them if there is an emergency,” said Ghanshyam Pugalia, a resident of the building.

Another resident of the building has temporarily shifted to a Lake Town address to avoid being stuck inside the zone.

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Mamata’s appeal and solution on masks

Mamata’s appeal and solution on masks

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday “requested” everyone to wear a mask and asked police to “strictly” enforce the norm that scientists say can play a significant role in preventing coronavirus infection.

Addressing officials from government hospitals and the health department at Nabanna, Mamata underscored the problems of enforcing such norms in India and talked about how futile her efforts had been to make her neighbourhood shopkeeper wear a mask.

She also wondered how someone who did not have the money to buy food could be fined Rs 2,000 for violating any Covid-related norm.

“Aami jorimana kortey paari kintu seta ki khub bhalo dekhabey (I can slap a fine but will it look good)?” she asked. “Can I fine a person Rs 2,000? Can a person who does not have the money to buy food be asked to pay up Rs 2,000? Will it solve the problem? No,” Mamata said.

The fine for not wearing a mask in Calcutta is Rs 50, under Section 41A (disorderly conduct) of CrPC. Officials said the chief minister had quoted the figure — Rs 2,000 — figuratively to explain the problem.

“I am repeatedly requesting everyone to wear a mask…. I too feel bad about it. There is a shop in my locality. I have repeatedly told him (the shopkeeper) to wear a mask. I have given him (masks) 10 times. But he simply won’t wear one,” the chief minister said. “Eder jonnyo aamar khoma chhara kichhui nei (I have nothing but forgiveness for them).”

The chief minister then went on to instruct the police to enforce the norm of wearing a mask whenever one steps out of home.

“Ask the police to strictly enforce it. If someone doesn’t wear a mask, send him home straight. Till the time he wears a mask, he won’t be allowed to step out. Byas hoye gyalo (That’s it). One-point programme,” she said.

On Wednesday, the police went to Gariahat market and asked shoppers to wear masks and maintain physical distancing. All police stations have been asked to do the same from Thursday, said an officer.

Over the last few days, the government has been trying to step up awareness about the importance of wearing masks. On July 2, state home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay had issued an order to the police, including the commissioner of Calcutta police, underlining the need to enforce norms of physical distancing and wearing masks. Bandyopadhyay’s order had also mentioned initiating penal action against repeat offenders.

Following the order, Calcutta’s police commissioner Anuj Sharma asked officers to go around markets and places of public congregation.

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Guide to containment zones in Calcutta

Guide to containment zones in Calcutta

At least four Covid-19 cases were reported in the last 14 days from the places that have been earmarked as containment zones, in the Calcutta municipal area, where a strict lockdown would come into effect from 5pm on Thursday, government officials said.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) will update the list every two days. A senior official of the government said a place could be removed from the list only if no fresh Covid-19 case was reported from there in 14 days.

Only essential service workers will be allowed to leave or enter a containment zone, said an official. There is no clear official definition yet of essential services.

CMC ward coordinators and police have been asked to arrange supply of essentials at the barricades marking boundaries of a containment zone.

The Calcutta municipal area has 25 containment zones. These include housing complexes as well as neighbourhoods with apartment blocks and standalone houses, said a CMC official. Three places each in Alipore and Bhowanipore and two places each in Kasba and Ultadanga have been brought under containment zones. “In most cases, 60 to 100 households are in each zone. A zone comprises a single lane or two to three lanes. There is no reason to think that large parts of Kasba or Alipore will be blocked,” said a CMC official.

In the Bidhannagar municipal area, at least 28 containment zones have been identified. Twenty-seven of these are in Salt Lake and theother in Kestopur.

Six containment zones have been identified in parts of Bangur and Dakshindari, under South Dum Dum Municipality, 25 in Rajarhat. There is no containment zone in New Town.

The criteria

Several officials said that an area was made a containment zone only if more than four or five cases were reported from there in the last 14 days. “There are still over 1,800 containment/isolation units. These are individual houses or flats that have been sealed. Not more than one case has been detected in those areas, so these are fit to be treated as isolation units,” said the official.

“Containment zones have come up in places where 4 to 5 or more cases were reported from a small area.”

A public health specialist said if multiple cases were reported from a small area, it showed there was a risk of transmission if people from that pocket were allowed to interact freely with people from another area. “It is possible that some people in the immediate neighbourhood of a person testing positive for Covid-19 may interact with him or her. So there is a need to restrict people’s movement,” the specialist said.

Essential supply

Essential supplies like groceries, vegetables and poultry will be delivered at the barricades put up by police to mark the containment zones. Sources in the government said municipal bodies and police at the local level would arrange for the deliveries.

Anindya Routh, the coordinator of CMC’s Borough III, which has eight containment zones, said police would arrange for supply of essential items. Routh and other senior officials of the borough met officers from five police stations — Ultadanga, Maniktala, Phoolbagan, Beleghata and Narkeldanga — on Wednesday to discuss modalities of enforcement of the lockdown in the containment zones.

Firhad Hakim, the chairman of the CMC’s board of administrators, held a video conference with all health officers in charge of the 16 boroughs on Wednesday. Police stations in a borough and health officials will decide the modalities of enforcement in consultation with ward and borough coordinators, officials said.

Krishna Chakraborty, the mayor of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, said the civic body and the police would coordinate with residents in the containment zones and deliver essential items, including medicines, to them.

Essential service staff

At Hakim’s video conference, the health officers were told that people working in essential service sectors should work from home if they live

in containment zones. A health official later said “an exception could be made for doctors and other healthcare workers”.

During the lockdown in April, employees of power utilities, telecom firms, bank, and oil and natural gas sector units and media personnel were treated as providers of emergency service. The health official said sector-specific decisions would be taken at the local level by police and municipal officials.

“Our objective is to ensure people do not leave containment areas. People should work from home. If that is not possible, local officials will decide,” the health official said.


This list is not exhaustive. The complete list is available on the Egiye Bangla website here

North 24-Parganas

⚫ Bangur Avenue, Block – A, Super Market Gali (South Dum Dum Municipality, Ward 29): Lake Town police station

⚫ Adjacent market closure for containment zone Bangur Avenue, Block – A (South Dum Dum Municipality, Ward 29): Lake Town police station

⚫ 5 No. Nehru Colony, Dakshindari (South Dum Dum Municipality, Ward 35): Lake Town police station

⚫ Sastriji Colony, Dakshindari (South Dum Dum Municipality, Ward 35): Lake Town police station

⚫ Adjacent market closure for containment zone Dakshindari Sastriji Colony & Dakshindari Nehru Colony (South Dum Dum Municipality, Ward 35): Lake Town police station

⚫ Samarpally, Kestopur (Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, Ward 25): Baguiati police station

⚫ Block: FD-43, 58/1, 301 & 308, Salt Lake (Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, Ward 33): Bidhannagar South police station

⚫ Block: FE-21, 523 & 516, Salt Lake, (Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, Ward 33): Bidhannagar South police station

⚫ Block: IB-1, 9 & Block: HC-SBI Qtrs, Salt Lake (Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, Ward 34): Bidhannagar South police station

⚫ Block: BE-232 to 249, Salt Lake (Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, Ward 31): Bidhannagar North police station

⚫ Khardaha Notun Bazar along with Khardaha Station Bazar (Khardah Municipality, Ward 13): Khardaha police station

⚫ Sodepur Station Bazar (Panihati Municipality, Ward 14): Khardah police station

⚫ MNK Road (Baranagar Municipality, wards 4, 5, 6, 7, 32): Baranagar police station

⚫ GLT Road (Baranagar Municipality, wards 13, 26, 28): Baranagar police station

⚫ BK Maitra Road (Baranagar Municipality, Ward 33): Baranagar police station

⚫ Deshbandhu Road (Baranagar Municipality, wards 7, 8, 9): Baranagar police station

⚫ Surya Sen Road (Baranagar Municipality, Ward 3): Baranagar police station

⚫ AK Mukherjee Road (Baranagar Municipality, wards 16, 17, 18): Baranagar police station

⚫ Rabindra Nagar, Dunlop (Baranagar Municipality, Ward 14): Baranagar police station

⚫ Nagerbazar to Bhagabati Park Bazar through Jessore Road (South Dum Dum Municipality, wards 22, 23, 25, 27): Dum Dum police station

⚫ Motijheel to Dum Dum Station Bazar through Dum Dum Road (South Dum Dum Municipality, wards 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 22): Dum Dum police station

⚫ Mackenzie Road & Sukur Road crossing to Sastitala crossing including Toothbagan, Lootbagan, Faribagan, Anwarbagan (Kamarhati Municipality, wards 2, 6): Belghoria police station

⚫ North Basudebpur Road Texmaco Gate More to Trivasha School More covering Chowdhurypara, Lalkuthi, Paschimpally (Kamarhati Municipality, Ward 29): Belghoria police station

⚫ Ghola Road–Old Nimta Road/Ghola crossing & Belghoria Station Road & Ghola Road crossing covering Ghola Bazar, Notunpally, Mohini Mill Quarter & Asha Kiran Apartment (Kamarhati Municipality, wards 21, 33): Belghoria police station

⚫ Feeder Road Footpath Bazar (Kamarhati Municipality, wards 20, 21): Belghoria police station


⚫ Purna Chandra Mukherjee Road (HMC, Ward 45): Santragachi police station

⚫ Satya Sadhan Dhar Lane (HMC, Ward 63): Liluah police station

⚫ Palghat Lane (HMC, Ward 57): Belur police station

⚫ Rajan Seth Lane (HMC, Ward 58): Belur police station

⚫ Tripura Roy Lane (HMC, Ward 11): Golabari police station

⚫ Upendra Nath Mitra Lane (HMC, Ward 12): Golabari police station

⚫ Rasik Krishna Banerjee Lane (HMC, Ward 4): Malipanchghora police station

⚫ Krishnaratan Naskar Lane (HMC, Ward 4): Malipanchghora police station

⚫ Nisco Housing Complex (Bally GP): Nischinda police station

⚫ Dharsha Panchanantala (HMC, Ward 47): Jagacha police station

⚫ Charakdanga, GIP colony (HMC, Ward 47): Jagacha police station

⚫ PK Banerjee Road (HMC, Ward 29): Howrah police station

⚫ Hat Lane (HMC, Ward 29): Howrah police station

⚫ Round Tank Lane (HMC, Ward 29): Howrah police station

⚫ MG Road (HMC, Ward 29): Howrah police station

⚫ Telkol Ghat Road (HMC, Ward 29): Howrah police station

⚫ RBC Road (HMC, Ward 29): Howrah police station

⚫ Chintamany Dey Road (HMC, Ward 29): Howrah police station

⚫ SK Para (Domjur GP): Domjur police station

⚫ Sankaridah Ghoshpara (Bergi GP): Domjur police station

⚫ Old Post Office (Banipur 1): Sankrail police station

⚫ Panchanantala Natun Para (Banipur 1): Sankrail police stationHMC: Howrah Municipal CorporationGP: Gram panchayat

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Tech varsity assessment for graduating students

Tech varsity assessment for graduating students

The state tech university will assess graduating students only on their final semester performance and no weightage will be given to previous semesters, a university official said on Tuesday.

The Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT) has announced that 75 per cent marks will be on continuous internal assessments and five per cent marks on attendance in the final semester. The remaining 20 per cent marks will be on home assignments of the same semester.

All private engineering and management colleges in the state are affiliated to the university.

The higher education department had on June 27 advised universities to assess graduating engineering students by giving 80 per cent weightage to the best of the aggregate of previous semester results/mid-semester results/internal assessments and 20 per cent to home assignments.

Internal assessments and home assignments of the final semester will be considered for the final assessment, Subhashis Datta, the university’s controller of examinations, said.

A BTech student in the eighth semester has appeared for three internal assessments. Two assessments were done before the lockdown and one during the lockdown. It was done online.

Colleges had made alternative arrangements for those with connectivity problems, a university official said.

“We think assessing students on the classes they have attended in the current (end) semester will ensure a fair evaluation… so, the university did not want to assess students on the results of previous semesters,” Datta said.

Colleges will keep records of home assignments, which need to be made available to the university “once the Covid-19 situation gets normal, if required”, the university has said.

“We will recheck answer scripts in case any discrepancy arises,” an official said.

Jadavpur University is still to announce the method it will follow while assessing graduating students of engineering.

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Total lockdown in containment zones

Total lockdown in containment zones

The Bengal government has decided to enforce complete lockdown in containment zones across the state from 5pm on July 9 (Thursday) to remind the people that they should not let their guard down at a time Covid-19 cases are rising.

The definition of containment zones is being widened to include buffer zones so that a broader area will be covered by the stricter rules.

According to an order issued by home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Tuesday, the following activities will not be allowed for an unspecified period from 5pm on Thursday in the containment zones, which are yet to be publicly identified:

⚫ All offices, government and private
⚫ All non-essential activities
⚫ All congregations
⚫ All transportation
⚫ All markets/industrial/trading activities

“This means, nothing will be allowed to remain open in the containment zones. From shops to markets, from offices to religious places, everything will remain closed till further orders,” a senior government official said, adding that only emergency services like health care would be allowed in these areas.

The entry and exit of people in the containment zones will be “strictly regulated”, according to the government order. The residents of the containment zones will not be required, nor allowed, to attend office.

However, exemptions are expected for those working in the essential services segments. “The rules are expected to be the same as they were when complete lockdown was in place in several containment zones earlier. The primary objective behind the latest order is to remind the people that no laxity can be afforded now,” a senior official said on Tuesday night.

The containment zones are to be notified on the Bengal government’s official website — www. or Egiye Bangla — and the websites of the respective districts on Wednesday evening.

“To the extent practicable, local authorities will try to arrange home delivery to the residents staying inside the broad-based containment zones,” according to the home secretary’s letter addressed to the Bengal police DG and IGP, the commissioner of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, the Calcutta police commissioner and all district magistrates.

In Calcutta, the municipal corporation and the police will together delineate the containment zones. In the districts, the respective district magistrates will identify the containment zones in consultation with the police commissioners or superintendents concerned.

The home secretary’s letter has made it clear that the new containment zones will be larger.

“The current concept of containment zones may be combined with the current concept of buffer zone, and together, they may constitute a revised and broad-based containment zone approach…. You may now delineate your broad-based containment zones,” the order said.

Of late, the state government had been declaring as a containment zone only those areas where several Covid-19 cases have been reported. A multi-storey building with several cases, or a small area covering a cluster of houses where cases have been reported, would be a containment zone. The buffer zone would be a wider area that the local authorities decide considering factors such as population density.

Recently, the state government had decided that if a single case is reported, that particular flat or house would be treated as an isolation unit whose residents would not be allowed to step out and where sanitisation measures would be undertaken.

The introduction of the isolation unit concept brought down the number of containment zones in Calcutta to 18 from above 1,800. The number of isolation units was 1,872.

“But now, the containment zones will be larger — maybe a large portion of a police station area in Calcutta where a number of positive cases have been reported. In case of the districts, major portions of a municipality might come under a containment zone,” a senior official said.

Over the past three days, Bengal has witnessed 800-plus intra-day increases in cases. Over 20 people have died in each of the three days, with Calcutta and North 24-Parganas the worst affected.

The official welcomed the decision, adding: “A similar step had been planned in April, but the state government had stepped back from implementing the tough measures in view of the inconvenience it could cause to people.”

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Mamata Banerjee eases rules for TV, film industry

Mamata Banerjee eases rules for TV, film industry

Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced a series of relaxations for the television and film industries after meeting stakeholders at Nabanna.

The chief minister allowed shooting of television reality shows but with the precondition of production without the audience. “We are allowing shooting of non-fictional shows for television where a total of 40 people, including artists, technicians and other production persons, can be present. There won’t be audience on the sets.”

Prior to this, the government had in early June allowed shooting of fictional shows with the presence of 35 people at a time.

Bengal is the only state where shooting of television shows and films have started and this can be a wonderful opportunity for the industry to invite production units from other states to undertake shooting of shows and films here, the chief minister said.

Outdoor shooting of films can be done in isolated places where gathering of a large number of people can be avoided, she said.

Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said that permission from local authorities would be required to carry out outdoor shooting of films.

For such permissions, interested units can write to the city’s police commissioner, the chief minister said. If any unit wants to go for shooting outside Calcutta, it can send letters to DGP Virendra, or ADG (law and order) Gyanwant Singh.

She announced to set up a committee, comprising government officials and film personalities like Parambrata Chatterjee, to prepare a guideline to carry out shooting for web platforms.

Parambrata Chatterjee

The chief minister announced her decision to extend assistance to single screen cinemas, which were damaged by Cyclone Amphan. A proposal has been put forward to help such halls as they have been suffering because of the lockdown.

“I cannot promise exemption of electricity bills as we need to give huge subsidies to the power sector. We can help the halls, which suffered damage during Amphan,” the chief minister said.

A government skill development centre will be turned into a grooming centre for budding television and film artists, she said.

The programme to observe the birth anniversary of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar on July 24 will be trimmed this year because of the pandemic, she said.

The government used to organise a programme to observe the day by giving away awards to film and television personalities.

This year, the birth anniversary will be observed through a small programme and awards will be given during the Calcutta Film Festival in November, the chief minister said.

“This year, we could not hold the programme to give Banga Bhusan and Banga Bibhusan awards. The awards (for film and television personalities) will be given during the (Calcutta) film festival,” she said.

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Pictures cry for awareness

Pictures cry for awareness

Pictures of kids in Howrah posing with the carcass of a Gangetic dolphin like a trophy have been doing the rounds of social media groups of animal activists since Sunday.

The pictures show the kids with the carcass on a van on the road. The dolphin’s snout is entangled in a fishing net.

Fishermen found the dead dolphin, Platanista Gangetica, along a riverbank in Shyampur II Block, over 60km from the heart of Calcutta, on Sunday morning. The forest department took the body away later in the day. The pictures had been clicked in between, a member of a local NGO said.

The place is near Gadiara, which stands at the confluence of the Hooghly, the Rupnarayan and the Damodar. It is known for sightings of dolphins, Saswati Sen, the state director of WWF India, said.

Sen was part of a 2017 study, which had put their number at 80 along the 534km stretch of the Hooghly in Bengal, between Farakka and Gangasagar.

The body of the dolphin — an adult female — was recovered around 10am on Sunday, a forest official said.

Dolphins need to rise to the surface to get enough air to breathe. But once trapped in nets, they cannot rise to breathe. Dolphins are clever but fishing nets, mostly made of nylon, are very thin and the dolphins’ sonar misses them, the official said.

Gangetic dolphins face a serious threat in Bengal from large-scale discharge of municipal waste, siltation and the countless brick kilns that have sprung up along riverbanks and river traffic.

Conservationists said most people who lived along rivers were unaware of its riches.

“Most are unaware of how precious the Gangetic dolphin is. The first step to any conservation effort is to make them aware,” Sen said.

The state forest department has planned a drive in East Burdwan’s Katwa on Wednesday. Two speed boats will be unveiled as part of the department’s move to monitor the river.

“This is a start. We don’t have many activities around aquatic animals. We plan to engage local people as Ganga praharis (river guards),” Ravi Kant Sinha, the state’s chief wildlife warden, said.

A veteran conservationist said the key to any conservation effort was the involvement of local people. “The forest department should focus on conducting awareness campaigns in local language. They should identify target groups like schoolchildren and fishermen and work with them continuously,” Ravindra Kumar Sinha, the vice-chancellor of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University in Jammu’s Katra, said.

Sinha is a Padma Shri recipient for his work on the conservation of Gangetic dolphins.

He recommended financial incentives for fishermen if they let go dolphins trapped in nets.

Sinha, the former head of zoology at Patna University, put the numbers of Gangetic dolphins in India at close to 4,000.

Sen of WWF remembered taking part in a series of meetings with hoteliers and traders in Gadiara as part of conservation efforts. “They stopped throwing used bottles and other waste into the river after the traders’ association installed bins,” she said.

In Howrah, the dolphin’s body has been sent for post-mortem. It will reveal the reason for its death, Raju Sarkar, the divisional forest officer, said.

The Gangetic dolphin, an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, can be found in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

Reduced pollution levels because of the Covid-19 curbs have led to frequent sightings of dolphins for the past couple of months, according to environmentalists.

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