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Daily briefing: Experts criticise Covid handling; how 1896 plague epidemic shaped Mumbai; and more

In phase 1, malls, hotels, restaurants and places of worship can open from June 8. Educational institutions will open in the second phase in July. And international air travel, metro rail, cinemas, bars etc. will have to wait till phase 3.

Written by Leela Prasad , Liu Chuen Chen | New Delhi | Published: May 31, 2020 9:16:55 am
lockdown 5.0 guidelines, lockdown 5.0, india lockdown, top news today, latest news updates, india coronavirus, cyclone amphan news, space x rocket A look at the top news today, May 31, 2020.

Dear Reader,

If you haven’t heard this is not a lockdown 5.0 — at least for areas outside containment zones, it is unlockdown 1.0. Limiting the new lockdown phase to only containment zones, the Centre plans to resume most activities in three phases. In phase 1, malls, hotels, restaurants and places of worship can open from June 8. Educational institutions will open in the second phase in July. And international air travel, metro rail, cinemas, bars etc. will have to wait till phase 3.

Meanwhile, criticising the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, some of the country’s top medical experts say community transmission is “already well-established across large sections” of people. But the government has maintained that there is no community transmission even as the total cases in the country touched 1,73,763 on Saturday.

While the Railways has distanced itself from a list of 80 dead passengers on board Shramik trains released by its own officials, a former chairman of the Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT) says families of the migrants are eligible for compensation under the “eggshell principle”.

There is one thing that even the lockdown couldn’t change: trains running late. Records show that 40 per cent of the 3,740 Shramik trains were recorded as late. The average delay worked out to about eight hours. The Railways are not to be blamed entirely either as there is track congestion with most of the delayed trains bound for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Sunday morning’s successful launch of the SpaceX rocket with NASA astronauts is not simply a Uber service for space travel, as critics would like to call it. It is about, in Elon Musk’s own words, “reigniting the dream of space and getting people fired up about the future.” This is the beginning of NASA’s partnership with private enterprises as it looks to send astronauts back to the moon and even Mars.

Cyclone Amphan left a trail of devastation mainly across West Bengal’s seven districts — the Sundarbans, in North and South 24 Parganas, was among the worst-hit regions. In South 24 Parganas alone, 24 people died, 10 lakh houses collapsed and over 4 lakh farmers were affected. But then, it’s not just Amphan. Of the seven districts, South 24 Parganas alone has 180 Covid cases, including six deaths.

Over the years, the Supreme Court, like any other institution and like in any other country, stumbled on occasion, but quickly lifted itself, dusted the sand, and strode like a colossus. It’s resolve to be the sentinel on the qui vive will be tested again and again. The Court must not flinch from its duty, not ever, writes former Union minister P Chidambaram.

The invasion by desert locusts in northwest India is exacerbating a situation already made worse by the COVID pandemic. And the Indian Council of Agricultural Research director-general Trilochan Mohapatra admits that there hasn’t been much “systematic research” in the country since the early 1990s and the current swarm attacks are a wakeup call to “restart and revive the programme”.

It was simply more than delivering food to customers for platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato during the lockdown. To cover up for the massive losses due to the slowdown in their business, online aggregators started leveraging their two-wheeler fleets to transport small items such as office documents, lunchboxes, etc within the city limits.

A committee tasked by the National Green Tribunal to inquire into the gas leak from the LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam on May 7 has listed a string of technical and safety lapses that resulted in the mishap, leaving 12 people dead and landing 500 others in hospitals.

It was the 1896 Bombay plague that had reshaped the city. Over the century later, the stories of the time – from a migrant exodus to sweeping state powers – have an uncanny resonance to its ongoing battle with COVID-19.Our cover story for Sunday Eye.

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