Govt opens border at Lakhanpur, allows 1200 to enter; 4 more treated, tally down to 37

People entering Lakhanpur from Punjab to return home on Monday. —Excelsior/Pardeep Sharma
People entering Lakhanpur from Punjab to return home on Monday. —Excelsior/Pardeep Sharma

Govt offices resume working with extreme thin attendance

200 to be airlifted today from R’sthan: Dr Jitendra

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Apr 20: For the first time since the Union Territory Government sealed its inter-State borders with neighbouring States, Lakhanpur, the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir, was opened today to facilitate return of 1211 people hailing from different areas of the UT, and sent to their respective districts with directions for 14-day home quarantine while four more Corona positive patients were discharged today from COVID hospitals taking number of treated patients to 17 and reducing active cases in Jammu region to 37 from total of 55.
While the Government offices re-opened today for the first time since lockdown was enforced on March 23, attendance was very thin in almost all the districts in the absence of conveyance facilities and passes to the staff members. The Government has already ordered that only 33 percent non-Gazetted staff will attend the offices in a day to keep social distancing.

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Official sources told the Excelsior that four more Corona positive patients including three contacts of Tablighi Jamaat belonging to village Narsoo in Chenani tehsil of Udhampur district were successfully treated and discharged from the COVID Hospital Gandhi Nagar in Jammu today taking total number of patients who have been cured and sent homes to 17. A positive patient from Gorkha Nagar, Jammu was discharged from the GMC Jammu after being cured today.
Jammu had total of 55 COVID-19 positive patients and, out of them, 13 had already been treated while there was one death of a woman from village Tikri in Udhampur district.
With discharge of three more patients of Narsoo, tally of Corona patients in Udhampur district has come down to 13. A total of five patients from the district have recovered while there was one death.
However, no COVID positive case was reported from any part of Jammu region for second consecutive today. On Saturday, a 20-year old youth from Thanna Mandi in Rajouri district was reported positive after three days of no case. With this, Jammu region has recorded just one Corona case in last six days. The Thanna Mandi youth had travel history to Srinagar.
Meanwhile, 200 inhabitants of Ladakh UT who had been evacuated from Iran where they had gone on pilgrimage and were presently in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan after completing their quarantine, will be airlifted to Kargil tomorrow, according to Union MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh.
He said the pilgrims have completed their quarantine and were putting up at Jaisalmer. Earlier, they had been evacuated from Iran where they had gone on pilgrimage, Dr Jitendra Singh said.
He added that the pilgrims will be airlifted by the Government of India from Jaisalmer to Ladakh.
Meanwhile, the UT Government today directed the district, civil and police administration in Kathua to allow all 1211 inhabitants of J&K who were stranded at Madhopur and Sujanpur in Pathankot district of Punjab for last over 20 days even after completing their 14-day mandatory quarantine to enter the UT.
For them, the district administration opened Lakhanpur border with Punjab for the first time in last 20 days.
Deputy Commissioner Kathua OP Bhagat told the Excelsior that 1211 persons who hailed from Kupwara, Baramulla, Budgam, Srinagar and Anantnag districts of Kashmir and Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Udhampur, Reasi, Kathua, Samba and Jammu in Jammu region were allowed to enter Lakhanpur and sent to their home districts in the SRTC buses with direction for 14-day mandatory home quarantine.
Social distancing was maintained properly while facilitating the entry of the people into Lakhanpur from Punjab.
Dr Jitendra Singh, who represents Kathua Parliamentary constituency, lauded Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh, DC Kathua OP Bhagat and SSP Kathua Shailendra Mishra for facilitating the entry of stranded people into Jammu and Kashmir.
He also hailed the scientifically planned arrangements made by civil and police administration at Lakhanpur in which all precautions were taken to maintain social distancing not only at the entry point at Lakhanpur but also within the SRTC buses as per guidelines of Centre and UT Governments.
It may be mentioned that over 1200 persons were stranded at Sujanpur and Madhopur, bordering Lakhanpur, in Pathankot district of Punjab for past nearly 20 days following J&K Government decision to close inter-State borders with neighbouring States at Lakhanpur to prevent spread of Coronavirus.
These persons had been making frantic calls at Help line numbers etc seeking their return to homes.
Sources said the Health workers will continue to visit houses of these people to see that they stay in their houses during 14-day quarantine.
Meanwhile, the Government offices opened today as per the UT Government order after nearly a month but attendance in almost all Government offices across the region was extremely thin.
The less attendance was attributed to lack of conveyance and lockdown passes.
However, the administration was of the view that it will take few days to increase attendance after lockdown passes are issued to all the employees, which is a time consuming exercise. Moreover, they said, some employees stay at long distance away from the offices and don’t have their own conveyance and it wouldn’t be possible to bring them to the offices.
The Government has ordered that all Gazetted officers would attend the offices daily while in non-Gazetted cadre, 33 percent staff will attend the office in a day and, for the purpose, roster will be prepared by the HoDs etc.
The offices which were functional had no visitors, sources pointed out saying when there was no public transport, none is expected to visit the offices for any work. Even those who have their own vehicles needed lockdown passes to reach the offices.
However, according to sources, the Government wants to make the offices functional even if with low strength to ensure that grievances of the people are addressed if they manage to reach the offices or give a telephonic call to officers/officials.
As far as the resumption of selective industry is concerned which has been permitted to operate even during lockdown with certain restrictions like maintenance of social distance and less staff, sources said, it will take 2-3 days for the industry to secure permission and start operations especially after about month-long closure.
The Government attempt to resume industry is aimed at ensuring that there is no shortage of essential commodities.
Meanwhile, strength was also very less in the Civil Secretariat, the seat of the Government, as number of Kashmir-based employees have left for homes with just four days remaining for closure of Durbar Move offices.
The Durbar offices will close here on April 24. The Civil Secretariat will resume functioning in Srinagar, the summer capital of the UT, from June 15. However, the Kashmir-based employees of the Civil Secretariat will start attending offices in Srinagar from May 5.