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Over 87 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in India so far

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New Delhi [India], February 16 (ANI): Over 87 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in India so far, informed the Union Health Ministry here on Tuesday.
“We have administered over 87,40,000 vaccine doses. Out of this, 85,70,000 are first doses and over 1,70,000 are second doses. These numbers are increasing,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Union Health Ministry at a press conference here.
He added, “Active cases in the country are less than 1,40,000. Average daily deaths in the previous one week have also decreased to 93 and the cumulative positivity rate in the country is decreasing, as of now it is 5.27 per cent.”
Bhushan also informed that the first doses have been administered to over 70 per cent of the registered healthcare workers in Rajasthan, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura and Bihar. Chhattisgarh, MP, Uttarakhand, Lakshwadeep and Tripura.
The second doses of the vaccine have been administered to more than 60 per cent of the eligible healthcare workers in Ladakh, Jharkhand, Assam, UP, Telangana, Tripura, Gujarat and Goa, he said.
Bhushan further stated that the range of daily active cases in the last 15 days has varied from 12,900 per day to 9,000 per day.
He also said in the last seven days, India has recorded 56 new cases per million population and 0.5 new deaths per million population, which is significantly lower than other countries.
“Similarly like last week, the main cases of worry are again from two states because Kerala has 61,550 cases and 27,383 cases are in Maharashtra,” he added.
India on Tuesday recorded another landmark achievement as the national recovery rate from COVID-19 touched 97.32 per cent, among the highest in the world, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed. (ANI)

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Punjab CM hits out at BJP’s remarks on farmers, says they are not ‘anti-nationals’

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Chandigarh [India], March 5 (ANI): Hitting out at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders over their statements on farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that farm workers of Punjab are not ‘anti-nationals’ but are patriotic and nationalistic people.
According to a press release, the Punjab CM called for an immediate end to attempts to defame the dynamic Punjabi farmers by branding them miscreants or ultras. He said in the Assembly that “they have never done anything anti-national, they are not anti-national, and they will never do anything against the unity and integrity of this country.”
“They are patriotic and nationalistic – while one son ploughs the fields in the village, the other brother is busy guarding the country’s borders. These are the same people who gave their lives for the country, along with soldiers from other States too, in Galwan last year protecting the sovereignty of our country,” added the Chief Minister, urging the Government of India to ensure that this defamation campaign against farmers is immediately ended.
Highlighting that despite 11 rounds of discussions, the Centre was unmoved and unconcerned about the protests of the farmers across the country, and had not taken any positive step to meet their demands.
“Instead, the statements and allegations of some of the leaders who are not familiar with the ground realities have aggravated the situation and have further anguished the farmers,” the Punjab CM said.
The Chief Minister also said that it was shameful that they were heading the governments at the national level and in the neighbouring states. Their statements raised the worries and apprehensions not only of the farmers and farm workers but also of our government as these do not augur well for our future, the Chief Minister strongly condemning the use of terms “anti-national and Khalistanis” against the farmers, he added
Taking strong exception to Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s allegation of the Punjab government trying to mislead farmers, the Chief Minister said there was no reason for his government to interfere in the farmers’ agitation as they had always been peaceful. The Punjab Government has always supported the farmers, and shall continue to protect their interests in all circumstances, he asserted.
He also slammed Goyal on his totally claims that Maoists and anti-national elements have hijacked the farmers’ protest, advising him not to provoke the peaceful farmers. In any case, if Goyal has any information on anti-nationals being part of the agitation, why does his government not take action against them, according to the press release.
Furthermore, he also sharply reacted to BJP National Secretary Tarun Chugh’s allegation of the misleading and deceptive narrative being created on the agricultural bills and causing misunderstanding to spread among the farmers, asking why the Centre with all the powers at its disposal, has failed to create a narrative favourable to the farmers.
Terming Haryana Chief Manohar Lal Khattar’s conduct “most regrettable”, Captain Amarinder said the government of the neighbouring state had gone against the established norms of democratic functioning by using force against the agitators and also digging roads and putting barricades etc in their way.
He also lashed out at Khattar’s claim on his government having “inputs” on the presence of Khalistani separatists in the ongoing farmers’ agitation, and also that “the Punjab Chief Minister is fanning this protest and office bearers of the his office are leading the protest”.
“If the Haryana Chief Minister has any firm information on separatist, why does he not give such information to his party’s government in Delhi, instead of defaming the Punjabi farmers,” asked Captain Amarinder.
The Chief Minister also lambasted other BJP leaders like Ashwani Sharma, Harjit Singh Grewal and Surjit Singh Jiyani for their shameful comments and statements on the farmers’ agitation, terming their behaviour as disgraceful. (ANI)

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Sanjukta Morcha releases candidate list for first two phases of West Bengal polls, Nandigram seat yet to be decided

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By Joymala Bagchi
Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 5 (ANI): Sanjukta Morcha, consisting of the Left Front, Congress, and Furfura Sharif’s Indian Secular Front (ISF), on Friday announced its candidate list for the first two phases of West Bengal assembly polls at Alimuddin Street.
However, the name of candidates for (210) Nandigram, (227) Pingla, (218) Egra, and (230) Daspur seats are yet to be announced.
Chairing the press conference, the Left Front chairman Biman Bose said, “There are a few seats where final decisions are yet to be taken. The name of the Nandigram candidate is yet to be decided. A list for only two phases has been announced today.”
“We will try to finish the remaining list altogether or in another couple of announcements,” Bose added.
The ISF has been demanding the Nandigram seat which will be contested by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Interestingly, TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari who joined BJP won the seat last time while in TMC. Later after joining the BJP, the party has challenged Mamata Banerjee to contest from Nandigram.
Party sources in the Left front said that the announcements for the pending three names will be done shortly by the alliance within a couple of days.
Senior Congress leaders, Pradeep Bhattacharya, Abdul Mannan, West Bengal CPM secretary Surya Kanta Mishra Suryakanta Mishra and ISF president Simul Soren, and West Bengal CPM secretary Surya Kanta Mishra attended the joint press conference.
The First and second phases will have 30 Assembly constituencies each.
Brigade ground meeting held on February 28 was instrumental and the alliance of Congress, Left Front and ISF will kick start the joint election campaigning for the first time. Till date, Congress was not participating actively in joint election campaigning.
According to Election Commission data, around 7,32,94,980 voters electors will cast their vote in 1,01,916 polling booths in West Bengal. In 2016, the number of booths were 77,413.
West Bengal is scheduled to see elections on its 294 assembly seats in eight phases starting from March 27 and concluding on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into force immediately after the announcement of the election dates. The commission has made adequate arrangements to ensure effective implementation of the MCC guidelines. (ANI)

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Rajnath Singh salutes courage of soldiers during Eastern Ladakh standoff

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Kevadia (Gujarat) [India], March 5 (ANI): Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday saluted the selfless courage displayed by soldiers during the Eastern Ladakh standoff.
Singh had addressed the Combined Commanders’ Conference at Kevadia today.
Taking to Twitter, the Minister said, “India’s resolute response on the borders has helped in a positive and peaceful resolution of certain significant issues. I salute the selfless courage displayed by the soldiers during the recent Eastern Ladakh standoff.”
Twenty Indian soldiers had laid their lives and unspecified numbers of Chinese soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley in June last year. India and China are in a standoff in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), following aggressive border skirmishes by the Chinese army.
“I spoke (with commanders) on a wide range of issues pertaining to the defence and security of the nation, the emerging nature of military threats, the critical role of the Armed Forces in meeting these challenges and the nature of warfare in future,” he said in another tweet.
“Our ability to secure India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty from external threats and internal challenges have been strengthened in the recent years. Our forces today are proactive and more resolute in their response,” Singh further said.
“We are working towards increasing jointness in the armed forces. The optimal utilisation of our resources and rationalisation of manpower holds the key to jointness and better coordination between the forces,” the Minister added.
Singh also remarked that the armed forces are capable to protect our nation’s interests, adding that India has nurtured close relations and partnerships with like-minded countries to further the common security interests.
The Defence Minister defined the elements of national interest and assured to protect the territorial integrity and ensure peace in the region.
“Our national interests are defined by the elements of National integration, sovereignty, sociology-economic development, conservation of our values and peaceful and harmonious region and world. We are committed to protect the territorial integrity and ensure peace in the region,” he said in a subsequent tweet.
“We as a country are looking to strengthen our ability to create secure and stable environment that can facilitate India’s economic growth. Our enhanced defence capabilities will allow us to be better prepared for contingencies,” the Defence Minister added.
On February 21, asserting that the disengagement process by India and China in eastern Ladakh has been ‘completed’ after nine rounds of diplomatic and military level talks between the two countries, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hit out at Congress for ‘doubting’ the bravery and valour of Indian soldiers.
The Indian Army also expressed heartfelt appreciation to jawans who played role in the Eastern Ladakh standoff.
“He spoke on the emerging nature of military threats, the critical role of Armed Forces in meeting threats and anticipated changes in the nature of warfare in future. He expressed heartfelt appreciation and respect to the courage displayed by jawans during the Eastern Ladakh standoff with PLA”: read a statement by the Indian Army.
Rajnath Singh commenced his two-day visit to Gujarat today. (ANI)

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Punjab CM slams AAP for walking out of Assembly before resolution seeking repeal of farm laws

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Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], March 5 (ANI): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for once again walking out of the state Assembly before the resolution seeking repeal of the farm laws was put to vote.
Hitting out at the AAP, Captain Amarinder said, “The party had never been truly concerned about protecting the farmers or their interests, and its leadership again proved itself to be an agent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with whom AAP national convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal was colluding against the agitating farmers.
The Punjab CM, who had earlier in the House shown to the members a copy of the Delhi Gazette notification implementing one of the three Farm Laws, reiterated that AAP was cheating the farmers with its false propaganda in their support.
“The fact is that they have repeatedly backstabbed the farmers, and have done so ago,” Punjab CM said, recalling AAP’s earlier U-turns on the issue in Punjab.
AAP had earlier walked-out from the all-party meeting chaired by Captain Amarinder on February 2, just before the representatives of all the parties present were about to pass the resolution in support of the agitating farmers.
In the House earlier, AAP MLAs had rushed into the well before staging a walk-out, alleging that the Chief Minister was a member of the High-Powered Committee set up by the Centre on agricultural reforms and hence party to the decision on the Farm Laws.
The Chief Minister further said, “AAP is not interested in the truth but wanted to continue with its malicious agenda of spreading misinformation on the issue.”
Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

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Devendra Fadnavis blames MVA govt for total constitutional failure in Maharashtra

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 5 (ANI): In a renewed attack on the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, opposition leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said that it is solely responsible for the failure of constitutional machinery in Maharashtra.
“The post of assembly speaker being vacant for over a week shows the failure of constitutional machinery and has never happened before in history,” he told media.
Fadnavis further accused the government of trying to misuse its power over elections and being arbitrary and deliberately holding online meetings in municipalities.
“They are trying to create an artificial majority by conducting elections where they have a majority and not opting for polls where they don’t have the majority by simply citing the coronavirus,” he added.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls will be held in early 2022. (ANI)

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Over 2 lakh pax took RT-PCR tests at Mumbai airport in past six months

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 5 (ANI): Over 2.2 lakh passengers underwent the RT-PCR test at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai in the past 6 months, out of which 1480 tested positive, informed the airport authority on Friday.
According to a statement issued by CSMIA, the airport authority introduced the RT-PCR test counters at the terminal on September 6 last year.
“In February this year, over 80923 passengers registered for test as compared to 1776 in September last year,” the statement read.
“Of over 2,20,000 tests conducted at the airport in the period from September 2020 to February 2021, CSMIA has recorded a little over 1480 results as positive,” it read.
CSMIA had originally introduced the testing facility for arriving passengers in line with the norms of the government; the facility enabled passengers to submit a test sample at the counters at the airport and receive their report in 8 hours.
Taking forward its commitment towards creating a safe and seamless passage for its passengers, the airport extended this facility for departing passengers as well in October 2020.
It could also be availed by non-passengers visiting the airport to drop off or collect their loved ones. As a passenger-centric airport, CSMIA pays close attention to the comfort and convenience of its passengers. For passengers wanting a quicker result, CSMIA also rolled out an express test that provides results in 13 minutes.
CSMIA has adhered to the requirements as laid down by the government regarding the testing of domestic as well as international passengers.
Currently, the airport hosts three facilities at its Terminal 2 located at Level 2 Arrival Exit near Gate B, Level 2 Airside corridor, and Level 4 Departure on the curbside opposite Gate 2. The testing facilities are handled by Suburban Diagnostics, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, Lifenity Wellness International Limited and Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd, respectively.
CSMIA has established over 30 counters of testing facilities set up for international and domestic passengers, including those equipped with molecular testing facilities that offer passengers the option to process their test results in 13 minutes post sample collection. In line with government norms, the regular test that provides results within 8 hours can be availed by passengers at a minimal cost of INR 850 while the express test is available at INR 4500.
As per the latest directive from the government, passengers arriving or transiting from flights originating from United Kingdom (UK), Europe, Middle East, Brazil and South Africa with a final destination in Maharashtra will have to observe a compulsory institutional quarantine of 7 days at a state-designated facility irrespective of a negative report pre-boarding. All international arriving passengers who are transiting from CSMIA to other states in India will have to undergo a mandatory molecular test on arrival at the airport before their onward journey; passengers arriving from Brazil, South Africa and the UK must wait at CSMIA until receiving their test result while those from Europe and the Middle East can proceed with their journey post submission of their sample.
All other international arriving passengers will have to provide proof of a negative report of a test undertaken 72 hours prior to the arrival. Alternatively, they can opt to undergo the molecular test on arrival at the airport, wherein post submitting the test sample they can proceed with their journey and receive their reports in 8 hours. Similarly, domestic passengers arriving at CSMIA from Delhi, Rajasthan, Goa, Gujarat and Kerala can opt to provide a negative test report taken 72 hours prior to travel or undergo the RT-PCR test on arrival at the airport. In lieu of the travel restrictions, passengers can also opt to undertake the test at CSMIA before their departure or at their destination airport.
Since the advent of the pandemic, CSMIA had implemented numerous SOPs, including the preventive measures laid down by health and government bodies to safeguard the well-being of the passengers and airport personnel. The airport continually strives to provide the best services and facilities to its passengers to ensure a seamless transit. CSMIA’s recent recognition as the Best Airport by Size and Region in the over 40 million passenger category is a further re-affirmation of the initiatives undertaken by the airport during the pandemic for enhancing the experience of its passengers. The RT-PCR test facility at CSMIA for both arriving and departing passengers is a boon for traveller concerns regarding the various quarantine regulations across borders. (ANI)

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