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SHAH REVIEWS SITUATION AS INDIA SEES SHARP JUMP IN COVID CASES

Current active coronavirus cases have gone back over the 1.5 lakh mark for the first time in 17 days, registering the steepest increase since the end of November.

Aditya Nair

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday reviewed the Covid-19 situation in India following the spike in cases in a few states. The ongoing vaccination drive and the steps needed to check further spread of the virus were discussed in the meeting, which was attended by Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and top officials of the two ministries.

Meanwhile, India’s coronavirus tally crossed 1.1 crore as it recorded 14,199 new Covid-19 infections on Monday. Current active cases have gone back over the 1.5 lakh mark for the first time in 17 days, registering the steepest increase since the end of November.

On 27 November the active caseload was 4,55,555—an increase of 3.85 per cent from the 4,38,667 recorded on 24 November.

This was the fifth consecutive day on which active cases (calculated as the difference between new cases and recoveries) increased; 13,506 new cases have been added in this period.

The three percent increase in active cases is also double that recorded this time last week—1.5 percent—and a massive 2.9 percent bigger than two weeks ago, when active cases decreased by 157.

The total number of new cases reported per day also increased—from a low of 9,121 on 16 February to 14,199 on Monday, with the seven-day moving average increasing by 13.8 percent.

Meanwhile, with 83 new fatalities, the country’s Covid death toll is over 1.56 lakh.

The spike in national numbers comes as five states—Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh—reported increased daily numbers. The Centre has warned all five states that continued “adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour” is critical to break the chain of transmission and contain the novel coronavirus.

“Over 74 percent of active cases are in Kerala and Maharashtra… there has also been a spike in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh… Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir are also witnessing a surge in daily new cases,” the Health Ministry said Sunday.

In Maharashtra, the worst-affected state, the seven-day moving average of new cases was 5,230 – the highest since 5,576 on December 2. On Monday morning, 6,971 new cases were reported in 24 hours, the most since October 24, when 7,347 had been detected.

Kerala registered 2,212 new cases of Covid-19 and 16 fatalities on Monday. A total of 5,037 patients recovered from the infection taking the active caseload to 55,468. The death toll climbed to 4,105. A total of 1,987 cases were reported to have been transmitted due to contact with those infected whereas the source of 169 cases could not be traced. The test positivity rate stood at 5.81 percent with 38,103 samples tested in the last 24 hours. This is the first time in over three months that the positivity rate has dipped below 6 percent.

No fresh Covid-19 death was recorded in Rajasthan on Monday and the death toll in the state stood at 2,785, according to a health department bulletin. The state reported 83 new cases which pushed the infection tally to 3,19,626. There are 1,206 active Covid-91 cases in the state. According to the bulletin, 3,15,635 people have been discharged after treatment till now.

On the other hand, a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases has set off alarm bells among health officials in Punjab. The daily cases of coronavirus have shot from over 350 to 3,000 in the last 48 hours in Punjab with Nawanshahr district the worst affected. The weekly positivity rate in the state has increased from 1.4 percent to 1.6 percent, while weekly cases in the last four weeks have seen a rise from 1,300 to 1,682.The government is planning to enforce strict social distancing guidelines and take note of health workers who avoid getting the vaccine.

Delhi recorded 128 Covid-19 cases and one fatality on Monday, even as the positivity rate stood at 0.30 percent, authorities reported. With the latest update in figures, authorities said, while the overall toll rose to 10,901, the number of cases went up to 6,38,028. 

Authorities have cautioned against abandoning Covid-appropriate behaviour like using face masks and maintaining social distancing while in public, which they say are contributing to the spike.

India began its vaccination drive last month and around 1.07 crore people have received at least one shot (of the required two) each. Those vaccinated so far are healthcare and frontline workers.

The plan is to vaccinate around three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase, followed by a critical mass of the population, in the hope that herd immunity can be achieved.

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Andhra CM urges Piyush Goyal to give railway lands to poor families, offers alternative land

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Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India], February 25 (ANI): Urging Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to give the Indian Railways-owned land to nearly 800 poor families situated there, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Wednesday offered alternative land to the Railways in lieu of the encroached area.
In a letter to Goyal, Chief Minister said nearly 800 poor families were living in houses that they have built in the railway lands in Raja Rajeswari Peta area of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC).
“These poor residents have been living for more than 30 years in the same area and have made several representations to the government to regularise the encroachments. No meaningful effort had been made in the past to resolve the issue,” the Chief Minister said.
Andhra CM said that as the lands encroached upon by the poor families belong to the Railways, and keeping in view of the long nature of encroachments, it is proposed to offer suitable government land to Railways as part of the exchange in lieu of the encroached land. The Chief Minister also pointed out that the railways have not put the land to any use for more than 30 years.
“The land identified by the State government to be given to Railways is very suitable and is also located within the limits of the VMC. More so, the land offered in exchange is of equal value. Both the encroached land and land proposed in exchange is of equal value,” Jagan said.
He further added that both the encroached land and the land proposed for exchange were inspected by a joint team of Railways and Revenue.
The railway officers had expressed their opinion to the district collector that the encroached land is of little use and they would be in a better position to utilise the proposed land which is located adjacent to 25 acres of railway land in Ajit Singh Nagar, the Chief Minister added. (ANI)

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Our representative institutions are temples of democracy: Om Birla in Meghalaya

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Shillong (Meghalaya) [India], February 25 (ANI): Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday said that our representative institutions are temples of democracy, where public representatives give voice to the hopes and aspirations of the people.
Addressing members of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, Birla said that democracy has deep roots in our country and a rich legacy of democratic participation has flourished in our villages for thousands of years.
“India has set the earlier examples of democracy for the entire world. That is why this glorious tradition became the foundation of Modern India after independence. Today we can say with pride that the democratic norms gaining ground all over the world, have Indian democracy as an exemplary model” he said.
“Friends, our representative institutions such as the Parliament, Legislative Assemblies and the Local Bodies are the temples of democracy, where public representatives give voice to the hopes and aspirations of the people,” the Lok Sabha Speaker added.
“Hence, it is important for all the democratic institutions – the Parliament, Legislative Assemblies and Local Bodies, be it in the form of Autonomous District Councils or Panchayats, to work in coordination and harmony so that our collective responsibility towards the people is fulfilled,” Birla said.
He further said, “whatever work we undertake should be carried out in this spirit and with utmost dedication towards the people. The concept of democracy can be fructified only when the person at the last rung in the society is benefited”.
“We will have to encourage discussion, dialogue and meaningful debate in representative institutions in order to achieve this objective,” he said adding, “there can be dissent during discussions but we should not reach an impasse. Our discussions should lead to the welfare of the people of the country.” (ANI)

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Centre improved rural, coastal connectivity to ensure farmers get good markets for produce, says PM Modi

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Puducherry [India], February 25 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that his government has made several efforts to improve rural and coastal connectivity to ensure that agriculture produce gets good markets.
“Our farmers are innovating. It’s our duty to ensure their produce gets good markets. Good roads do exactly that. Four-laning of the road will also draw industries in this area and generate job opportunities for local youth,” Prime Minister Modi said after laying the foundation stone of development projects in Puducherry.
Speaking at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in Puducherry, PM Modi said, “The people of Puducherry are talented. This land is beautiful. I am here to personally assure all possible support from my Government for the development of Puducherry.”
The Prime Minister who laid the foundation stone of the four-laning project of National Highway (NH) 45-A said the project will draw industries in the area and generate jobs.
“Today, we celebrate the beginning of various development projects that will improve the lives of the people of Puducherry. India needs world-class infrastructure to cater to our development needs. It would make you happy that the foundation stone to four-lane, the NH 45-A is being laid. It gives me immense pleasure to inaugurate the rebuilding of the Mary Building. The building has been recreated in its old form, retaining its heritage,” he said.
He said his government is making several efforts to improve rural and coastal connectivity, and the four-laning of roads will endure that farmers produce get good markets.
“Across India, our farmers are innovating. The government of India has made several efforts to improve rural and coastal connectivity. The agriculture sector will gain from this across India. It is our duty to ensure their produce gets good markets and good roads do exactly that. The 4-laning of roads will also draw industries in this area and generate jobs,” he stated.
Laying the foundation stone for a 400-m synthetic athletic track at the Sports Complex here, Prime Minister said prosperity is closely linked to good health, and in the last seven years, India has made many efforts to improve fitness and wellness.
“Sports teaches us teamwork, ethics and above all, it teaches us sportsman spirit. I’m delighted to lay the foundation stone for a 400-m synthetic athletic track at the Sports Complex here. It is part of the Khelo India scheme. It will nurture sporting talent in the Indian youth. Sports teaches us sportsman spirit. Youth from Puducherry can now excel in national and global sports meets. A 100-bed girl’s hostel inaugurated today is another initiative to help sports,” he said.
“One sector that will play a key role in the coming years is healthcare. Nations that invest in healthcare will shine. In line with our objective to provide quality health care to all, I am inaugurating the blood centre in JIPMER,” he said while reiterating that the healthcare sector will play a key role in the development of the nation in the coming years.
Calling the coast of Puducherry as the soul of the UT, Prime Minister said, “There is so much potential in fisheries, port, shipping and the blue economy. I am honoured to lay the foundation of Puducherry Port Development under the Sagarmala Scheme.”(ANI)

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Congress dares KTR for ‘open debate’ on employment issues in Telangana

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Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], February 25(ANI): All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Sravan Dasoju on Wednesday slammed Information Technology Minister KT Rama Rao over employment issues in Telangana and dared him for an ‘open debate’.
Sravan, who is a former Member of Parliament, targeted KTR yesterday for his ‘misleading’ statements regarding the recruitment of about 1.32 lakh jobs in the state.
Differing on the minister’s claims, the senior Congress Party leader invited KTR for an “open debate” for discussing the original jobs provided by the government, existing vacancies available in the government and private sector as well. He also fixed the venue, time and date for the debate.
While criticising the attitude of KTR, Sravan said: “We are not idiots to believe in your shameless, useless and falsified statements. You must come along with your team on Friday (February 26) at 12 noon to Telangana Martyrs Memorial at Gunpark with facts of recruitment numbers, current vacancies available.”
“There are about 40 lakh unemployed youth in Telangana and more than three lakh jobs are currently vacant in the government itself. He said that the government did nothing in the last seven years to any segment, especially to the unemployed youth, graduates and even the government employees who are eagerly waiting to get a new Pay Revision Commission (PRC) when their counterparts received 27 per cent in Andhra Pradesh,” said Sravan.
The Congress leader further said: “When your sister K Kavitha cannot survive without a job, how do you think these many youngsters can live without a proper job or self-employment? After all, it is the fundamental responsibility of any government to provide jobs to its citizens.”
Reminding him of the core pillars of the Telangana movement – Water, Grants and Employment – Sravan asked KTR to disclose the total number of vacancies as of 2014, new jobs created as new Panchayats are created, districts are formed and the implementation of 610 GO. He further criticised KTR for making noise only due to the MLC elections and is trying to mislead the graduates by divulging doctored data of jobs created in the state. Regularizing 22,000 plus TS Genco, Transco employees is one of the best examples of deceptive statements of the minister, he explains.
“Your own Biswal Commission report says that 1.91 lakh jobs are currently vacant in the government. Your father said that there will not be any contract jobs in Telangana. But, you are neither appointing new employees, nor filling up existing vacancies. You are not even protecting the rights of private employees when Narayana, Chaitanya, Gayathri groups suddenly removed about 10,000 to 15,000 qualified and experienced lecturers”, Sravan criticised.
Pointing out the failures of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government, Sravan lamented that the Information (Technology Investment Region) ITIR project which was crafted during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government aimed at providing 50 lakh jobs by attracting Rs 2.5 lakh crore investments in Hyderabad has been lost due to the inability of KTR, who betrayed the state youth and IT professionals.
“It requires only Rs 13,000 crore investments and 50,000 acres of land which has already been identified during the Congress party government in Andhra Pradesh. Can’t your father spend Rs 13,000 crore out of Rs 4 lakh crore debts, taken for receiving commissions in the name of projects like Kaleshwaram, for the benefit of 50 lakh sons of the soil?,” he asked. (ANI)

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J&K’s Ehtisham Khan gets Youth Icon Award for contribution to society

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Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], February 25 (ANI): The Association of People of Asia’s Jammu and Kashmir chapter earlier felicitated Ehtisham Khan, a social worker and an athlete from Srinagar’s Batamaloo, with ‘The Youth Icon Award’.
The award was conferred in recognition of his contribution to society, sports and for representing India at different international platforms.
APA aims to promote peace, create conditions for social betterment and communal harmony.
Ehtisham Khan is pursuing a degree in Engineering from Yogananda College of Engineering and Technology.
“I am basically an athlete. I started my career in snow skiing. I represented JK, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh at the national level in snow skiing. I am a bronze medalist in rock climbing, an ultra-marathon runner, a mountain biker and a founding member of the J K Mountain biking association,” he said.
” I have worked with International NGOs, Youth Hostels Association of India and an organisation called Youth for Peace. I am now the Coordinator of Adventure Promotion Committee JK and Director for India of International Youth United”.
Fayaz Ahmad, his father said, ” Ehtisham has made our family and our state proud. We are happy that he got such achievements.” (ANI)

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Assam now known for development, education, tourism: Shah

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Nagaon (Assam) [India], February 25 (ANI): Highlighting the transformation of Assam, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said the state was earlier known for agitations, weapons and violence, now it is known for development, industrial investment, education and tourism.
“Assam that was known for agitations, weapons and violence is now known for development, industrial investment, education and tourism,” Shah said during a rally in Nagaon district.
The Home Minister further stated that it is the first step in a new era of development started by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pitching for making Assam flood-free, infiltrator-free and violence-free, Shah said, “We have to make the entire northeast the biggest GDP contributor of the country.”

Shah also visited Maha Mrityunjay Temple in the district for the ‘Pran Pratishtha Mahotsav’ and offered prayers along with Sonowal and Sarma. (ANI)

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