The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has written to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, requesting that his government issue instructions to permit media personnel to commute and travel for work and professional purposes, including across the Delhi-Noida border — which has been sealed due to the Coronavirus pandemic — on the basis of their photo identity cards issued by the respective news channels, and to dispense with the requirement of the issuance of curfew passes to enable cross-border travel between Delhi and Noida.
The Delhi-Noida border was sealed on Tuesday the 21st of April, and , vide Order No 1990 issued by District Magistrate Gautam Buddha Nagar.
Rajat Sharma, President – NBA, has written to the Honble Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath, as follows:
Dear Yogi ji,
Sub: Order No 1990 dated 21.4.2020 issued by the District Magistrate, Gautam Buddha Nagar, sealing the Delhi – Noida border
We write to you on behalf of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) which is a representative body for the entities operating news channels in India. Our members perform the solemn duty of broadcasting and disseminating news and other informative content to the public at large, through their respective news channels which is communicated in many languages.
The role of news channels is particularly critical during the present challenging times. Quick and timely dissemination of updated information regarding the spread of the Covid-19 virus and the measures implemented by the government authorities, as well as efforts being made by members of civil society, is of utmost importance.
This information, which includes details of testing centres, hospitals, treatment protocols, social distancing measures and the like, is constantly being updated as scientists and authorities learn more and more about the virus.
Generating immediate public awareness in regard to these developments can spell the difference between life and death, and can greatly help combat the pandemic.
We greatly appreciate the efforts being made by the government to combat this pandemic and wholeheartedly support the guidelines issued by the government authorities in this regard. While the nation-wide lockdown continues, print and electronic media have been exempted as essential services, and have permitted to operate even during the lock down.
Effective 21st April, 2020, the Delhi-Noida border has been completely sealed and only persons to whom special passes are issued will be permitted to move across the border. While it is true that such passes would be issued to media personnel as well, we would like to bring to your notice certain serious issues faced by our members with this arrangement.
All our members are making all possible efforts, within their means, to ensure smooth functioning of their studios and offices, the closure of the Delhi Noida border is posing extreme hardship and logistical hurdles in achieving that objective.
As you would be aware, our members run 24/7 news channels in multiple languages, and this requires editorial, non-editorial and support staff to be present in office, as per their shifts, to ensure smooth running of the office functions.
Each office location could have more than a few hundred employees present at one time. The employees and support staff of our channels are based in different parts of NCR- Noida, Delhi, Ghaziabad and Gurgoan and are required to travel to and from the said locations. Our reporters, cameramen and technicians are also required to travel on a daily basis to different parts of the NCR for news coverage.
In view of the large number of employees, reporters and support staff who are required to move from one location to another, and since the travel locations are not always fixed in advance, it is proving extremely difficult for us to identify locations and give other details at the time of getting the curfew passes issued.
Also, since there are no public transport facilities available in the city we are, therefore, providing pick-up and drop facilities to most of our employees and support staff. Company and contractor owned vehicles used for this purpose are limited in number and we are trying our best to accommodate as many employees as we can, while maintaining the social distance norms.
The vehicles used to transport our employees include SUVs and Sedans. While 8 seater SUVs carry only 6 employees, including the driver, 6 seater vehicles carry only 4 employees, including the driver.
In such circumstances, insisting on compliance by the media personnel with the mandate of obtaining special curfew passes or any other restrictions imposed on how the employees should travel on company owned vehicles, would jeopardize the very functioning of news channels during the lockdown.
This would greatly harm larger public interest, and deprive the members of the public of the availability of a vital medium for obtaining critical information, including life saving information.
You are, therefore, requested to issue instructions to permit media personnel to commute and travel for work and professional purposes, including across the Delhi-Noida border, on the basis of their photo identity cards issued by the respective news channels. In such cases, the requirement of the issuance of curfew passes may kindly be dispensed with.