PM MODI TAKES STOCK OF OXYGEN SUPPLIES AS CORONAVIRUS CASES HIT A NEW PEAK - The Daily Guardian
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PM MODI TAKES STOCK OF OXYGEN SUPPLIES AS CORONAVIRUS CASES HIT A NEW PEAK

India registers 2,17,353 fresh Covid-19 cases, making it the highest single-day spike since the pandemic broke out last year; 1,189 samples test positive for variants, says Health Ministry.

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India witnessed another grim milestone as 2,17,353 Covid-19 cases were reported in 24 hours, making it the highest single-day spike in daily cases since the pandemic broke out last year. Amid the unparalleled surge, when most hospitals are overflowing with Covid patients, PM Narendra Modi on Friday took a comprehensive review of the health infrastructure to ensure adequate medical oxygen supply in the country.

The detailed review of the current oxygen supply situation and projected use in the coming 15 days included 12 high burden states, namely, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The Centre and states are in contact over the supply chain and estimates for projected demand have been shared with the Centre by the states. Accordingly, 4,880 MT, 5,619 MT and 6,593 MT have been allocated to these 12 states for meeting their projected demand as on 20th April, 25th April and 30th April. 

The PM was briefed about production capacity in the country to meet the rising demand on which he suggested that oxygen production as per the capacity of each plant be increased. It was discussed that surplus stocks of oxygen supply in steel plants are being offered for medical use.

PM Modi also urged officials to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country. The Centre has exempted all interstate movement of oxygen tankers from registration of permits to enable easier movement. States and transporters have been asked to ensure tankers move round the clock with drivers working in shifts to ensure faster turnaround and adequate capacity to meet the surge in demand.

Cylinder filling plants will also be permitted 24-hour working with necessary safeguards. The government is also allowing industrial cylinders to be used for medical oxygen after due purging. Similarly, nitrogen and argon tankers will be automatically allowed to be converted to oxygen tankers to overcome the potential shortage of tankers. 

Officers also briefed the Prime Minister about the efforts being made to import medical grade oxygen. Inputs from ministries like Health, DPIIT, Steel and Road Transport were shared with the PM.

The sudden resurgence of the infection is also being attributed to the spread of newer variants of the novel coronavirus. A total of 1,189 samples have so far tested positive for variants of concern of the SARS COV-2 in India, which include 1,109 samples testing positive for the UK variant, 79 for the South Africa variant and one sample for the Brazil variant.

With the new cases reported across the country, India›s Covid tally has shot up to 14,291,917 cases. Last week India had replaced Brazil as the second worst-hit nation in terms of total Covid-19 cases, and now it has claimed the spot for having the second highest active cases too.

India also witnessed 1,183 fatalities due to Covid-19 in a single day. The death toll from the deadly infection now stands at 174,335.

With 19,486 fresh cases in 24 hours, Delhi once again broke its record of highest single-day tally of infections recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. The previous record had been on Wednesday when the city reported 17,282 new cases. The fresh spike has pushed Delhi›s total caseload to 8,03,623, which includes 61,005 active cases. Apart from the record jump in cases, Delhi also registered 12,649 recoveries in the 24-hour period. The infection rate in Delhi currently stands at 19.69 percent.

India’s worst-affected state Maharashtra broke its own record with 63,729 new Covid-19 cases and 398 fatalities in a single day, Maharashtra›s tally reached 3,703,584 and the death toll climbed to 59,551. As many as 45,335 people also recovered on the day, taking the total recoveries to 3,519,208. Meanwhile, Mumbai city logged 8,803 new cases and 53 deaths as the state capital’s tally reached 562,207 and the death toll 12,250.

Karnataka also reported its biggest single-day spike with 14,859 Covid-19 cases, and 78 related fatalities, taking the total number of infections to 11,24,509 and the toll to 13,190, respectively. Bengaluru Urban accounted for the bulk of the cases, with 9,917 infections. The day also saw 4,031 patients getting discharged after recovery.

Uttar Pradesh reported 27,426 fresh Covid cases in 24 hours. This is the biggest-ever single-day spike that the state has seen since the pandemic began. Over 100 people also died during the day due to the viral infection.

Gujarat recorded 8,920 new Covid 19 cases, its highest single-day spike so far. With the new cases, the total tally reached 3,84,688, while active cases touched 49,737. The death toll rose to 5,170, with 94 people succumbing to the deadly virus in the span of 24 hours.

Rajasthan›s Covid-19 total mounted to 3,95,309 with a record single-day jump of 7,359 fresh cases, while 31 more deaths pushed the toll to 3,072. There are currently 53,813 active cases in the state.

Tamil Nadu reported 8,449 new Covid-19 infections and related 33 deaths in 24 hours, pushing the caseload to 9,71,384 and 13,032 respectively. Recoveries mounted to 8,96,759 with 4,920 patients being discharged, leaving 61,593 active infections. Chennai continued to constitute the major chunk of the new cases, accounting for 2,636 new infections aggregating to 2,77,300. It leads in the number of fatalities too, with 4,364 deaths.

Kerala recorded 10,031 Covid cases and 21 deaths in 24 hours. This is the first time the daily Covid cases crossed the 10,000 mark in the state since October 2020.

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Punjab CM declares Malerkotla state’s 23rd district, announces development projects

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Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday declared Malerkotla as the 23rd district of the state, while also announcing a slew of projects for the development of the historic city.

The Chief Minister made these announcements during the state-level celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, held virtually in view of the pandemic. On the occasion, the Chief Minister underscored India’s secular character, which he said was manifested in the defeat of communal forces in the recent Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Recalling the rich history of Malerkotla, the CM said its conversion into a district, which had been a long-standing demand of the local people, would ease their hardships and enable them to resolve administrative problems more seamlessly.

Initially, said the Chief Minister, the sub-divisions of Malerkotla and Ahmedgarh, as well as the sub-tehsil of Amargarh, would be included in the newly created district. The process of bringing villages under the jurisdiction of Malerkotla district would begin later, after the conclusion of the census operations, he added. The Chief Minister directed the Deputy Commissioner Sangrur to find a suitable building to immediately start the functioning of the District Administration office. The Deputy Commissioner for the newly carved out district would be appointed soon, he said.

Announcing various development projects for Malerkotla, Capt Amarinder Singh also announced the establishment of a government college for girls and a government medical college. The medical college, in the name of Nawab Sher Mohammed Khan, would be set up soon at a cost of Rs. 500 crore, and the state has allotted 25 acres of land on Raikot Road and the first instalment of Rs. 50 crore has already been sanctioned, he added. A new bus stand will also be constructed at a cost of Rs. 10 crore, he said, adding that Malerkotla will also get a ‘Mahila Thana’ which would be exclusively managed by women.

To ensure holistic urban development, the Chief Minister also announced a sum of Rs. 6 crore for the Urban Environment Improvement Program (UEIP).

Further, to promote the cultural heritage of Malerkotla, the Chief Minister said the Punjab Government has acquired the Mubarak Manzil Palace and that he has written to His Highness the Aga Khan Foundation UK to undertake its conservation and restoration. He also recounted his memories with the then Nawab of Malerkotla and spoke about the city’s significance in Sikh history.

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CHHATTISGARH TO PAY FOR EDUCATION OF CHILDREN WHO LOST PARENTS TO COVID

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Raipur : The Chhattisgarh government has decided to pay for the education of children who have lost their parents/guardians to Covid and children from families where the earning member has died of Covid.

CMO Chhattisgarh tweeted, “Chhattisgarh government will pay for the education of children who lost their parents due to #COVID19, scholarship also to be provided under state’s Mahtari Dular Scheme. State govt will also take care of the education of children whose earning member of the family has died of Covid”.

Children orphaned due to Covid will also be provided with scholarships under the state’s Mahtari Dular Scheme.

The CMO also tweeted that such children will be given preference for admission in Swami Atmanand English Medium Schools. No fee will be charged.

As per the Health and Family Welfare Ministry of Chhattisgarh, 9,121 Covid cases were recorded on Friday out of 67,738 tests conducted. With this, the total number of cases in the state are reached 8,92,331. The state also recorded 195 deaths on Friday, wherein 92 were from Covid, while 103 patients died of co-morbidities. The Ministry also reported 12,274 total recoveries, including those discharged from home quarantine, bringing the total number recoveries to 7,61,592.

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NOT FORCING USERS TO ACCEPT PRIVACY POLICY UPDATE, WHATSAPP TELLS DELHI HC

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Messaging app WhatsApp told the Delhi High Court on Friday that it is not forcing any user to accept the 2021 update in its privacy policy as it is not mandatory. It said users will have a choice to accept the new update or choose not to, and are free to delete their WhatsApp accounts any time.

Replying to a petition challenging the privacy policy of the app, WhatsApp submitted that users were not previously given the option to opt out of its privacy policies if they wanted to use the service.

The social messaging app also said that it is not under any legal obligation to provide such opt-outs to its users and added that the law permits companies to not provide their services to users who do not consent to their terms.

The company also said that such practices are commonly practiced by online platforms across the industry whenever they update their terms. The company also said that online platforms are often less transparent by simply implying consent through continued use of their service after a certain date, rather than prominently and clearly giving users control and choice, as WhatsApp did.

The company also submitted that such interference in the privacy update policy would “cripple” the internet-based applications and websites industry.

The messaging app also said that the petitioners’ allegations regarding the alleged disparity with European users are meritless. The company maintained that the 2021 update, which applies to users in India, also applies to most of WhatsApp’s users around the world, including in the US. On the different policy for WhatsApp’s users in the “European Region”, the social messaging app submitted that it is due to different rules and obligations in the European Regio

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SPECIAL PAROLE FOR CONVICTS SERVING MORE THAN 7 YEARS IMPRISONMENT IN HARYANA

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Given the Covid crisis, Haryana has announced to give parole to convicted persons who were sentenced for more than 7 years imprisonment. It was decided at a meeting of the High Powered Committee held under the Chairmanship of Justice Rajan Gupta, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court and Executive Chairman, Haryana State Legal Services Authority.

As informed by the Prisons Department, Haryana, a total of 21,804 (108%) prisoners are presently lodged in 19 jails of Haryana against the authorized capacity of 20,041 (100%). Since the first meeting of the High Powered Committee, held on 24 March 2020, 2,580 convicts sentenced for more than 7 years imprisonment were released on special parole. Similarly, 2,094 (656+1438) convicts/undertrials sentenced up to 7 years or facing trial for offences which stipulate maximum imprisonment up to 7 years were released on special parole/interim bail under the orders of HPC.

Subsequently, with a decrease in Covid cases, the High Powered Committee had directed the return of the convicts released on parole in cases where they were undergoing imprisonment for more than 7 years in 9 phases. Till date 2,170 convicts have surrendered in jails under 8 phases and the 9th phase consisting of 280 convicts started from 14 May, 2021.

In pursuance of directions issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 7 May 2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.1 / 2020 – In RE: Contagion of Covid-19 in Prisons, and considering the emergent situation in and around due to sudden spike in Covid, the Committee has decided to release all convicts sentenced to imprisonment for more than 7 years who were released earlier on special parole under the categories prescribed by the Committee on special parole till 31 August 2021. Special parole granted to convicts who were to surrender in the 9th phase has also been extended till 3 August 2021.

However, convicts who have failed to surrender on the date fixed or are absconding or against whom new cases were registered while on special parole are not entitled to special parole. No special parole shall be applicable to those who are not covered by the categories approved by the High Powered Committee in its previous meetings.

Competent authorities have been directed to consider the concern of inmates who may not wish for release in view of their social background and the fear of becoming Covid victims and may allow them to stay in jail after taking a written declaration from them.

The Committee has also extended the parole/interim bail of 2017 convicts/undertrials who are sentenced up to 7 years/facing trial for offences which stipulate maximum imprisonment up to 7 years till 31 August 2021. State and jail authorities have been asked to consider the cases of all such convicts/undertrials for parole/interim bail as well as any other convict/undertrial covered by the categories prescribed by the High Powered Committee.

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MAHARASHTRA GOVT TAKES U-TURN ON PR AGENCY ALLOTMENT FOR AJIT PAWAR

Urvashi Khona

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After facing backlash for the Maharashtra government’s allotment of Rs 6 crore to a private PR agency for handling Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s social media accounts, Pawar has cancelled the notification of the appointment. He clarified that he does not need any outside PR firm and the government department will do its work.

An order issued on Wednesday by RN Musale, under-secretary at the General Administration Department for the year 2021-22, stated that an external agency was to be appointed, with a budget of Rs 5.98 crore, for handling the social media accounts of NCP leader Ajit Pawar. As per the order, this was because the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations (DGIPR) lacks the professional and technical competence to deal with social media. The PR agency which was to be appointed in consultation with the Deputy Chief Minister, Secretariat and DGIPR was also tasked to see how messages and decisions by Ajit Pawar reaches the common man.

However after severe backlash, including from the Opposition, that crores of rupees were being spent merely for advertisements amid the Covid crisis, the Deputy CM – who also holds the finance and planning portfolio – cancelled the decision.

“There is no need to appoint an external agency to handle the social media of the Deputy Chief Minister’s Office. The order in this regard should be cancelled immediately,” read his press statement with an add-on clarification that communication with citizens and the media would be maintained only through the existing public relations system.

Meanwhile, BJP MLA Ram Kadam attacked Pawar, raising the question that if this was the amount to be spent for one minister, what it would be for the others. “People have died in the pandemic due to the negligence of the Maharashtra government. On one hand, the government is saying that they don’t have enough money to purchase vaccines and on the other hand, to pat their backs on social media a team is hired for the Deputy Chief Minister at a budget of Rs 6 crore. If this budget is for one minister, what is the budget for all the ministers?” he asked.

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PLEA TO CANCEL CBSE, ICSE CLASS XII EXAMS FILED IN SUPREME COURT

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New Delhi : A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) to cancel the CBSE and ICSE Class XII examinations.

CBSE, through its letter dated 14 April, had cancelled the examination for class X and postponed the examination for Class XII. CISCE, through its circulars dated 16 and 19 April, had cancelled the examination for Class X and postponed the examination for Class XII for an unspecified period. The plea asked the court to set aside these notifications issued only in respect of clauses dealing with the postponement of the Class XII examination.

The petition filed by advocate Mamta Sharma asked the court to devise an objective methodology to declare the result of Class XII within a specific time frame. The plea stated that for the innocent students of Class XII, “step-motherly, arbitrary, inhuman directions” have been issued to postpone their final examination for an unspecified duration.

“In view of the unprecedented health emergency and rising numbers of the Covid-19 cases in the country, the conduct of examination, either offline or online or blended in upcoming weeks is not possible and delay in the examination will cause irreparable loss to the students as time is the essence in taking admission in higher education courses in foreign universities,” the plea said.

It added that delay in declaration of results will ultimately hamper one semester of the aspiring students as admission cannot be confirmed until the Class XII result is declared.

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