PM calls for increase in production, distribution of oxygen; MHA steps in - The Daily Guardian
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PM calls for increase in production, distribution of oxygen; MHA steps in

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review the oxygen supply across the country and discuss ways and means to boost its availability. PM Modi asked the officials to ensure that oxygen supply to various states happens in a smooth, unhindered manner. He spoke about the need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction. He also stressed that the states should come down heavily on hoarding.

On the issues of “obstruction’ and “hoarding”, meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday issued orders under the Disaster Management Act that no state can hold up supplies of oxygen to another state. Passing a series of instructions, the order issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said: “No restriction shall be imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between the States and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles.” It also made it clear that no restrictions could be imposed on “oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state/UT in which they are located”.

The MHA order also banned the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted by the government, till further orders are issued.

In the high-level meeting he chaired, the Prime Minister also spoke about the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects–increasing production of oxygen, increasing the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities. The officials briefed the Prime Minister on the efforts undertaken in the last few weeks to improve the supply of oxygen. There has been an increase in demand of oxygen due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country in the second wave of pandemic. According to an official release, the Prime Minister was informed that an elaborate exercise is being done in co-ordination with the states to identify their demand for oxygen and ensure adequate supply accordingly.

He was briefed on how oxygen supply to states is steadily increasing. Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT per day of Liquid Medical Oxygen, the Centre has allocated 6,822 MT/ day to these states from April 21. It was noted that in the last few days, availability of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) has been increased by about 3,300 MT per day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries. Officers informed the Prime Minister that they are working together with the states to operationalize the sanctioned PSA oxygen plants as soon as possible. PM Modi also asked ministries to explore various innovative ways to increase production and supply of oxygen. The release said that various measures are being undertaken to rapidly increase the availability of cyrogenic tankers through conversion of nitrogen and argon tankers, import and airlifting of tankers as well as manufacturing them.

PM Modi stressed on the need to ensure faster transportation of oxygen to the states. It was discussed that Railways is being used for rapid and non-stop long distance transport of tankers. First rake has reached from Mumbai to Vizag to transport 105 MT of LMO. Similarly, empty oxygen tankers are also being air-lifted to oxygen suppliers to reduce one way journey time in oxygen supply. Representatives from the medical community also spoke about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting the condition of patients. The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Home Secretary, Health Secretary and some other senior officials.

Meanwhile, the MHA order said: “No authorities shall attach the oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas for making supplies specific to any particular districts or areas,” it said. “The District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioners and senior superintendents of police/ superintendents of Police/ Deputy Commissioners of Police will be personally liable for the implementation of the above directions,” the order added. WITH AGENCY INPUTS

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CONGRESS’ PERFORMANCE IN ASSEMBLY POLLS VERY DISAPPOINTING: SONIA GANDHI

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday termed her party’s performance in the recently-concluded assembly polls as “very disappointing” and said the party “must learn appropriate lesson” from the setback in the spirit of humility and honesty. Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, Gandhi said Congress Working Committee will meet shortly to review the results. She also termed the party’s performance as “unexpected”.

“Most unfortunately, our own performance in all the states was very disappointing and if I may say, unexpectedly so. The CWC is meeting shortly to review the results but it goes without saying that we as a party collective must draw the appropriate lessons from this setback in a spirit of humility and honesty,” she said.

Gandhi also congratulated Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and DMK chief MK Stalin for their “handsome victories”.

Congress suffered defeats in Assam and West Bengal and could not open its account in West Bengal where it had won over 40 seats in 2016 polls. The Congress could win only two seats in Puducherry where it was in power about two months back. Only in Tamil Nadu, the party gave a credible performance as part of the DMK-led alliance which swept to power, defeating the AIADMK-led alliance.

The Congress-led Mahajot was the main challenger to the ruling BJP-led NDA in Assam and Congress-led UDF to the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala. While NDA returned to power in Assam, the LDF returned to power in Kerala.

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WB moves SC seeking direction to disband current vaccination policy

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The Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government on Friday moved to the Supreme Court seeking direction to disband the current Covid-19 vaccination policy and bring in uniform vaccination policy by doing away with the differential pricing mechanism. Disband the “Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of Covid-19 Vaccination” policy and adopt and implement a uniform policy of procuring 100 percent doses of Covid-19 which can be equitably distributed to the States and Union Territories for free de-centralized distribution,” the plea said.

Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting free Covid vaccination for all citizens. “I firmly believe that this battle against Covid will be won with coordinated and collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in augmenting infrastructure and an earnest drive for universal vaccination free of cost. I am looking forward to your kind cooperation in this regard. With regards,” stated Mamata in the letter to the Prime Minister.

She had also slammed the PM for not receiving any reply from him over her letter regarding the free Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens. “I have not got any reply till now from PM Modi over the issue of free vaccination. He must be busy,” Mamata said. The third phase of the vaccination drive commenced on May 1 making everyone above the age of 18 eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The Covid vaccine manufacturing companies are empowered to release up to 50 per cent of their supply to state governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price. The Covid-19 situation in India continues to deteriorate amid the second wave of coronavirus infections.

With a total of 4,14,188 new Covid-19 cases being recorded in the last 24 hours, India again reported its highest single-day spike on the second consecutive day. With this, the cumulative count of cases in the country reached 2,14,91,598, informed Union Health Ministry.

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Ministry requests states, UTs to prioritise beneficiaries of 2nd dose of vaccine

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The Union Health Ministry on Friday requested all the states and Union Territories to prioritise the beneficiaries of the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. “From the side of the Union Health Ministry, we requested all the states/ UTs to prioritise the beneficiaries of the second dose and ensure the timely completion of the recommended vaccination schedule,” Additional Secretary (Health) Arti Ahuja said during a media briefing.

The Ministry also urged that the states / UTs to use the vaccines received by them through the ‘Government of India channel’ in 70:30 ratio for the second dose and the first dose respectively. “Secondly, utilise the supplies of the vaccines through the Government of India channel in the 70:30 ratio for the second dose and the first dose respectively and do a regular review of the coverage of the vaccination drive,” said Ahuja.

The Ministry also said that so far, a total of 16.50 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered across all categories.

“Among the Healthcare workers, so far, 0.95 crore doses have been administered for the first dose and 0.64 crore doses have been given as the second dose. Similarly, for the frontline workers, 1.38 crore doses for the first dose and 0.75 crore doses for the second dose have been given,” the Additional Secretary (Health) said.

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Virat and Anushka start a Covid fundraiser, donate Rs 2 crore

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As India battles with the Covid-19 pandemic, several Bollywood celebrities and cricketers have come forward and shown their support by raising funds or providing oxygen concentrators and food essentials.

After Sachin Tendulkar, Pat Cummins, the Indian Cricket Team Skipper Virat Kohli and his actress wife Anushka Sharma are raising funds for providing help during the Covid pandemic.

Virat and Anushka have started a fundraiser for Covid-19 relief work in India and have requested their fans to donate to the fund. The couple has donated Rs 2 crore.

Virat and Anushka took to their respective social media handles and posted about the fundraiser for the people of India. Anushka said, “India is going through an extremely difficult time and the second wave of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic has pushed our country to a state of crisis. It is time for all of us to come together and do our bit for our fellow countrymen who are in serious need of support. Virat and I have been hugely pained looking at the inexplicable suffering that people are going through and we hope that this fund will aid in our fight against the virus that we are all helplessly witnessing. We are praying for everyone’s safety. We hope that you join us in our prayers to save as many lives as possible because we are all in this together. #InThisTogether”

Virat said, “We are going through an unprecedented time in the history of our country and our nation needs all of us to unite and save as many people as possible. Anushka and I have been shocked to see human suffering since last year. We have been working towards helping as many people as possible all through the pandemic and now, India wants our support more than ever. We are starting this fundraiser with the confidence that we will be able to raise substantial funds to aid those in dire need. We are confident that people will come forward to support fellow countrymen in crisis. We are in this together and we shall overcome this. #InThisTogether” The couple has collaborated with Ketto for raising funds.

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WHO APPROVES CHINESE VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE

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GENEVA: The World Health Organization approved the emergency use of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, on Friday. It’s the first Chinese vaccine to receive WHO’s approval, although it is already being used in several poor countries. There is not much data about how effective Sinopharm is, however, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference that the Chinese vaccine had received WHO’s validation of “safety, efficacy and quality”.

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SC REFUSES TO INTERFERE IN CENTRAL VISTA PROJECT

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday urged the Delhi High Court to consider the PIL filed seeking a stay on the construction work of the Central Vista project in the national capital and asked the High Court to issue orders related to the matter. An apex court bench comprising Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari on Friday heard the petition for the Special Leave Petition filed by the petitioner. The SC heard the plea and has requested the Delhi HC to consider it and pass orders stating that the matter involves extreme urgency.

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