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1st April – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. Explained: British-era law invoked in Panchkula to curtail movement
  2. Explained: What is being sprayed on migrants, and is it safe?


Focus: GS-II Governance, Prelims

In March end, authorities in Panchkula invoked an otherwise redundant British-era law, titled the “Punjab Village and Small Towns Act”, to curtail people’s movement during the lockdown.

What is the law?

The law was first enacted in 1918 in erstwhile Punjab to make provisions for nightly patrol duty by inhabitants of small villages and towns in cases of emergency.

  • Under this Act, if the Deputy Commissioner of a district in Punjab or Haryana is of the opinion that in a village, special measures need to be taken to secure public safety, he has the power to make an order requiring all “able-bodied adult male inhabitants” to patrol the village.
  • The time period of the applicability of the order is up to the Deputy Commissioner and the maximum time period is up to one year.
  • The Deputy Commissioner shall have power to alter the number of persons required for patrol duty and the method of their selection, and shall inform the village panchayat of his decision

Relevance now

Now, the Deputy Commissioner of Panchkula has passed such an order under section 3 of this Act and has declared that all able-bodied male inhabitants of the villages be liable to be on patrol duty both during the day and night.

  • The aim of the patrol in the present case is to keep a watch on people entering villages without a valid pass and to make sure villagers follow social distancing norms.
  • Those who are not following the provisions will be liable under sections 9 and 11 of the Act, which means they may have to pay a fine imposed by the village panchayat or a fine imposed by the deputy commissioner, not exceeding Rs 100.


Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

In several places including Barreili of UP and Delhi, migrant workers travelling to their home states, or their belongings, were sprayed with a disinfectant, apparently to sanitise them.

The chemical in the spray was a sodium hypochlorite solution. Sodium hypochlorite is commonly used as a bleaching agent, and also to sanitise swimming pools.

Is the chemical safe?

As a common bleaching agent, sodium hypochlorite is used for a variety of cleaning and disinfecting purposes.

  • It releases chlorine, which is a disinfectant.
  • The concentration of the chemical in the solution varies according to the purpose it is meant for. Large quantities of chlorine can be harmful.
  • A normal household bleach usually is a 2-10% sodium hypochlorite solution. At a much lower 0.25-0.5%, this chemical is used to treat skin wounds like cuts or scrapes.
  • An even weaker solution (0.05%) is sometimes used as a handwash.

What was the concentration used in the spray in various places?

In Delhi, officials have said a 1% sodium hypochlorite solution was used in the spray applied on migrant workers’ belongings.

Possible Side-effects/harm

A 1% solution can cause damage to the skin of anyone who comes in contact with it.

  • If it gets inside the body, it can cause serious harm to lungs.
  • Sodium hypochlorite is corrosive, and is meant largely to clean hard surfaces.
  • It is not recommended to be used on human beings, certainly not as a spray or shower.
  • Even a 0.05% solution could be very harmful for the eyes.

In swimming pools, the quantity of sodium hypochlorite is very low, so that it does not harm the skin. In Pune, the chemical has been sprayed on buildings. Even this could be harmful to people living inside.

Does the chemical get rid of the novel coronavirus?

The World Health Organization, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend homemade bleach solutions of about 2-10% concentration to clean hard surfaces to clear them of any presence of the novel coronavirus.

April 2024