War of words begins after SC panel says Delhi inflated oxygen need by 4 times - The Daily Guardian
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War of words begins after SC panel says Delhi inflated oxygen need by 4 times

Ashish Sinha

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After a Supreme Court panel report said that the Delhi government exaggerated the city’s oxygen requirement at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, a fresh war of words has begun between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The panel, led by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, included Delhi government Principal Home Secretary Bhupinder Bhalla, Max Healthcare Director Dr Sandeep Buddhiraja and Union Jal Shakti Ministry Joint Secretary Subodh Yadav.

“The Delhi government exaggerated the oxygen requirement for the city by more than four times during the April 25-May 10 period, at the peak of the second COVID wave,” the report said, adding that supply of excess oxygen to Delhi could have triggered a crisis in its supply to 12 states with the high caseload.

“There was a gross discrepancy (about four times) in the actual oxygen consumption claimed by the Delhi government (1,140MT) as it was about four times higher than the calculated consumption as per the formula based on bed capacity (289 MT),” said an interim report of the oxygen audit panel appointed by the Supreme Court.

Responding to the panel report, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted saying, “My fault was that I fought for the breath of 2 crore people. When you were [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] busy campaigning for election, I was burning the midnight oil to arrange oxygen. People have lost their relatives due to oxygen shortage. Please don’t lie, they are feeling bad.”

The BJP soon jumped into the issue and targeted the AAP-led Delhi government. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra cited the report to note that Delhi’s requirement was 351 MT of medical oxygen even if the panel went by the Delhi government’s formula, while it was 289 MT according to the Central government’s estimate. He further said that only 209 MT was utilised while Kejriwal projected a requirement of 1,140 MT.

Reacting to allegations levelled by the BJP, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia denied the existence of any report by the Supreme Court-appointed Oxygen Audit Committee. “There is no such report. We have spoken to the members of the Oxygen Audit Committee formed by the Supreme Court. They said they have not signed or approved any such report,” he said in a press conference on Friday

Coming to the panel report, it said that the average consumption of oxygen in Delhi was between 284 to 372 MT, and added that “the excess supply of oxygen affected other states in need of oxygen”. It further stated that four Delhi hospitals claimed high consumption of oxygen with fewer beds.

Making a number of recommendations in its 163-page report submitted to the top court, the interim report also said that certain hospitals projected extremely high demand but recorded negative consumption. It noted that four hospitals—Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital and Liferay Hospital—had “claimed extremely high oxygen consumption with a very few beds and the claims appeared to be erroneous, leading to extremely skewed information and significantly higher oxygen requirement of the entire state of Delhi”.

The interim report said that tankers in Delhi were not able to offload oxygen and were lying idle as oxygen tanks in various hospitals were completely filled. “In this regard, a complaint has been received from M/S Goel Gases that their tanker has been parked at LNJP hospital and could not offload oxygen for many hours, leading to breakdown in supply chain. Similar instances have been observed at New Delhi,” it added.

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Delhi police call meet of intel agencies, anti-terror squad heads

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With the situation in India’s western neighbourhood volatile, an inter-state coordination meeting of all intelligence agencies and state heads of the Anti Terror Squad has been called in Delhi on Friday. This is the first time the centrally administered Delhi Police has called for such a meeting.

A senior MHA official confirmed that after the Taliban, backed by other terror organisations and state actors in Pakistan, took over Afghanistan, there were inputs about heightened activities in the border areas. The meeting will help to coordinate better and prepare in advance for any untoward incident. “The purpose of the meeting is to smoothen the exchange of intelligence inputs and better coordination,” said the official.

For the first time, the inter-state coordination meeting of intelligence agencies like the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Military Intelligence, and other agencies have been called at Delhi Police headquarters. The meeting will also be attended by 11 ATS chiefs of other states and senior officers in field operations.

The intelligence agencies are continuously receiving alerts regarding terrorists crossing the border and planning something ‘big’ in the country. On August 15, the government in Afghanistan collapsed and the Taliban took over the country. The sympathisers of the Taliban who were keeping an eye on India became active.

A senior official said that personnel of intelligence agencies active in Jammu and Kashmir got intel reports from their counterpart active in the PoK region regarding the movement of terrorists who are planning to infiltrate into the Jammu and Kashmir region.

All intelligence agencies have been put on high alert after they learnt about a meeting between Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed and Taliban leaders in Kandhar during the third week of August. The meeting was attended by a group of Taliban leaders where JeM sought their support in ‘India-Centric’ operations. Sources further reveal that the political situation in Pakistan was also discussed in the meeting.

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AGENCIES CONTINUE GRILLING PAKISTAN BOAT CREW

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Indian agencies are continuing the interrogation of the 12-member crew of the apprehended Pakistani boat Allah Pawawakal as they want to ascertain their intentions inside Indian waters. The crew members claim they are fishermen but the boarding party could not find any fish on their boat and their replies give rise to suspicion about their intent. Their questioning is still going on, government officials told ANI. The boat was apprehended on the night of 14 September when the Indian Coast Guard Ship Rajratan, while on a surveillance mission apprehended it in Indian waters with 12 crew, the coast guard had stated in its statement on the incident.

The ICG ship under the command of Comdt (JG) Gaurav Sharma, challenged and the boarding party despite rough and adverse weather conditions was tasked to board the boat. The boat has now been brought to Okha for a further joint investigation by appropriate agencies.

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HARYANA CM MEETS PM, BRIEFS HIM ON FARMERS’ PROTEST

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Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and briefed him on the farmers’ protest. He also invited the Prime Minister to the state for the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Haryana Orbital Rail Corridor. Khattar also extended birthday greetings to the Prime Minister on the eve of his birthday and told him that the state unit of the BJP would be devoting this day to service and dedication. Speaking to reporters after meeting PM Modi, Khattar said, “I briefed the PM on new initiatives and schemes introduced in the state. I also briefed him on the farmers’ protest and the incident that occurred in Karnal. I have invited him to the state for the foundation stone laying of the Haryana Orbital Rail Corridor.” Khattar also told reporters that the project is being built at a cost of Rs 5,600 crores and all the approvals for the project have been completed. Khattar’s meeting with PM Modi comes amid the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three farm laws during which they blocked the National Highway-44 at the Singhu border.

Haryana Police had on August 28 conducted a lathi-charge on protesting farmers near the Bastar toll plaza in Karnal. The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) had alleged that Kajal, who belonged to Karnal district had “received severe blows in the atrocious police lathi charge” and died of a “heart attack”. However, Haryana Police denied the allegation.

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‘India ready to partner with nations for tech transfer, making Covid vaccines’

‘Both India and South Africa proposed a TRIPS waiver for vaccine production’.

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India has said it is ready to partner with interested countries for the transfer of technology and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines indigenously developed in the country. Both India and South Africa proposed TRIPS waiver for vaccine production as well. Addressing the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that in order to address vaccine inequity and promote the interests of the developing world, several of whom are members of the Commonwealth, India, along with South Africa, has proposed the TRIPS waiver for vaccine production in developing countries.

“While this issue is being deliberated in the WTO, we stand ready to partner with interested countries for the transfer of technology and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines indigenously developed in India,” he said.

India is also working on mass vaccine production under the Quad framework and also partnering with Australia, Japan and the United States to expand the vaccine manufacturing capacity in India, to assist countries in the Indo-Pacific region, again several of whom are small island states and members of the Commonwealth.

“We are proactively considering cooperation in critical areas of genomic surveillance and clinical trials,” Shringla said.

“India has taken the initiative to conduct customized Covid-19 specific training programmes for several countries, including Commonwealth member states to build the capacity of healthcare professionals and administrators.

“We are also making available Covid-19 mitigation technologies, solutions and products, including cost-effective test kits, indigenously developed in India for supply to the rest of the world,” he added.

He also highlighted the rapid pace of India’s own vaccination programme. “On the domestic front, we are implementing our vaccination programme successfully, having administered an overwhelming 750 million doses so far, with a record-breaking 10 million doses in a single day,” Shringla said. India has provided Covid-19 related support, including pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and vaccines, to more than 150 countries across the world over the last year.

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2022 R-Day parade will be held in new Central Vista

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The next Republic Day parade on January 26 will be held in the new Central Vista, said Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday. Speaking to journalists, the Union Minister said, “We have ongoing work on Central Vista Avenue. The next Republic Day parade on January 26 will be held on the new Central Vista. We will ensure that the winter session of Parliament during the 75th year of our Independence will be held in the new Parliament.” Puri further said the new building of the Ministry of Defence, which has been inaugurated by the Prime Minister, comes under the Central Vista project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday inaugurated the Defence Offices Complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue in the national capital. The new Defence Offices Complexes will accommodate around 7,000 officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy and Air Force. The buildings will provide modern, secure and functional working spaces.

An Integrated Command and Control Centre has been established for managing building operations, while also catering to the end to end safety and surveillance of both the buildings.

The Central Vista Development project intends to revamp 86 acres of land in central Delhi which has structures such as Parliament House, North Block, South Block, Shastri Bhavan and Udyog Bhavan.

While interacting with Army, Navy, Air Force and civilian officers during the inauguration ceremony, the Prime Minister said: “The people who were criticising the Central Vista project never mentioned the Defence Offices Complexes, which is also part of the Centra Vista… They knew their falsity would be exposed.” “When we are focusing on ease of living and ease of doing business, modern infrastructure plays an equally important role. This is the idea behind the work that is being done in the development of the Central Vista,” PM Modi said.

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INCENTIVES WORTH RS 120 CRORE FOR DRONE SECTOR

Urvashi Khona

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Under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, incentives of Rs 120 crore will be given in the next three years to the drone manufacturing sector, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said on Thursday, while briefing the media about the important features of the PLI scheme.

“This amount is 1.5 times the combined size of the drone manufacturing sector. Over a period of three years, an estimated investment worth Rs 5,000 crore for manufacturing drones will be done, and this, in turn, will bring a turnover of Rs 900 crore, and 10,000 job opportunities will be created,” Scindia said, adding that the objective is to establish India as a global drone hub by 2030.

Drones offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy. These include: agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence, and law enforcement, to name a few. Drones can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas.

Focusing on this being a revolutionary step for the industry, Scindia detailed the features of scheme and said, “It’s the first step towards realising our collective vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat; the Central Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components.” After the liberalised drone rule enacted last month, the government on Wednesday approved the PLI scheme for drones and drone components.

FEATURES OF THE PLI SCHEME FOR DRONES, 2021:

• The total amount allocated for the PLI scheme for drones and drone components is INR 120 crore, spread over three financial years.

• The incentive for a manufacturer of drones and drone components shall be as high as 20% of the value addition made by the manufacturer.

• The value addition shall be calculated as the annual sales revenue from drones and drone components (net of GST), minus the purchase cost (net of GST) of drone and drone components.

• The Government has agreed to keep the PLI rate constant at 20% for all three years, an exceptional treatment given only to the drone industry. In PLI schemes for other sectors, the PLI rate reduces every year.

• The proposed tenure of the PLI scheme is three years, starting in FY 2021-22. The PLI scheme will be extended or redrafted after studying its impact in consultation with the industry.

• The Government has agreed to fix the minimum value addition norm at 40% of net salesfor drones and drone components, instead of 50%, another exceptional treatment given to the drone industry. This will allow widening the number of beneficiaries.

• The PLI scheme covers a wide variety of drone components:

• Airframe, propulsion systems (engine and electric), power systems, batteries and associated components, launch and recovery systems;

• Inertial Measurement Unit, Inertial Navigation System, flight control module, ground control station and associated components;

• Communications systems (radio frequency, transponders, satellite-based etc.)

• Cameras, sensors, spraying systems and related payload etc.;

• ‘Detect and Avoid’ system, emergency recovery system, trackers etc. and other components critical for safety and security.

• The list of eligible components may be expanded by the Government from time to time, as drone technology evolves.

• The Government has agreed to widen the coverage of the incentive scheme to include developers of drone-related IT products also.

• The Government has kept the eligibility norm for MSME and startups in terms of annual sales turnover at a nominal level—INR 2 crore (for drones) and INR 50 lakh (for drone components). This will allow widening the number of beneficiaries.

• Eligibility norm for non-MSME companies in terms of annual sales turnover has been kept at INR 4 crore (for drones) and INR 1 crore (for drone components).

• For foreign companies, Rs 8 crore for drones and Rs 2 crore for drone components.

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