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Coronavirus | Maharashtra allows printing but bans distribution of newspapers

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A day after exempting a number of economic activities and goods transport services after April 20, the Maharashtra government on Saturday prohibited door-to-door delivery of newspapers and magazines while allowing them to continue printing.

A notification signed by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta issued on Saturday said, “Print Media is hereby exempted from lockdown from 20 April 2020. However given the extent of the spread of COVID-19, door-to-door delivery of newspapers and magazines is prohibited.”

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The government’s move has attracted the ire of the newspapers and journalist unions and media houses, already struggling under the direct impact of the lockdown. In Maharashtra, the newspaper vendors had already said they would not be able to deliver newspapers. Many cities including the majority parts of Mumbai do not get the hard copies.

Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray calling for withdrawal of the decision. “In the era of fake news, newspapers are important and even the World Health Organisation has confirmed that they are safe for distribution,” he said. Mr. Fadnavis said allowing printing of newspapers while prohibiting its distribution holds no meaning.

Mr. Thackeray however said it was ‘unnecessary confusion’. “While we support its operations and the need to reach out to the people, we want to also ensure the highest safety from a virus that the world is still grappling with. The sale of print media newspapers, magazines and productions is allowed at stalls/ shops already established, as deemed fit by the media houses. We urge the media to refrain from home deliveries,” he said, in a statement issued on Twitter.

Mr. Thackeray said that, the government wholeheartedly supports the media and looks to it for suggestions and objections. “However in times of such a pandemic, where we genuinely are in need to reduce footfalls and increase safety, most economic operations are facing tough times. “Media has withstood the test of time, truth can never be stifled. We request it’s cooperation for the same,” the Chief Minister added.

Various journalist bodies and unions too registered their opposition. “The order is uncalled for especially when reports say newspapers don’t cause infection. We appeal to the State government to re-think its decision and not bleed the media industry to death,” said a statement from the Mumbai Press club.

Marathi Patrakar Parishad president S.M. Deshmukh warned of a Statewide protest saying it seems the government wants to close-down the print media altogether. Maharashtra Sampadak Parishad too issued a statement appealing to Mr. Thackeray to withdraw the decision.

The government also issued clear directions ahead of the coming month of Ramadan which begins next week. It appealed to the Muslim community to conduct namaz within their houses and not to come out on grounds, terraces or elsewhere till the relaxation of the lockdown.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 2:58:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-maharashtra-allows-printing-but-bans-newspapers-distribution/article31377471.ece

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