Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has clarified on the issue of vaccines after concerns were raised from various quarters including the Congress. The clarification came on late Sunday night.
Harsh Vardhan said, as per the new policy, even after the launch of third phase of vaccination starting May 1, the Government of India will continue giving vaccine doses from its 50 per cent quota to the states and UTs for free. These vaccines shall continue to be administered by states and union territories.
He said, the balance 50 per cent quota grants flexibility for states. Many states had requested that the vaccination process be opened up for them. Now, this balance 50 per cent quota shall give them the freedom to vaccinate groups that they deem as priority.
“It is a fact that health is a state subject, where Centre essentially coordinates and facilitates the states. After we received requests from nearly all states to liberalise the vaccine distribution policy and pass on the control to the states, we decided to go ahead,” Harsh Vardhan said.
The balance 50 per cent quota is also open for corporate and private sector to pool in their resources so that the combined effort of Team India can be deployed to vaccinate every adult in the earliest possible time, he said.
The vaccination process through GOI route will continue as before and the entire expense of this will continue to be borne by the Centre. As the eligibility criteria to get vaccinated through this route evolves further, GOI will continue to provide full support to the states to vaccinate all eligible people free of cost.
Undoubtedly, the private and corporate sector route will empower a large number of people to get themselves quickly vaccinated outside the government route. In essence, those who can afford to get them at the private and corporate sector rates, shall go ahead, the minister said.
The states, therefore, as per their own priority and commitments, have to vaccinate only those remaining people who have not been administered vaccines either through the GOI free route or through the private route.
“It is thus important to note that for the common people at large, there is and will always be an option to get vaccinated for free, to ensure that the price of vaccines does not become a burden for them.” he said.
“The 50 per cent quota, that is at Government of India’s pricing, is for free distribution of vaccines and distribution of all of this will be done through the states only. Hence the allegation that Centre is getting it cheap and States are not is patently false,” he further said.
The actual situation is that states are getting one guaranteed channel of free vaccine supply, while it can simultaneously procure vaccines from another channel as per its aspirations and commitment to its people, the minister clarified.
“I see no reason why the states must complain now. They were demanding removal of restrictions on vaccine supplies to them. Under the new policy, they have the liberty to directly procure from the manufacturers and even negotiate prices based on volumes. This will also cut the delays. I empathise with the states because they are leading this battle from the front and need fast replenishment of vaccine stocks. They need to decide when, how, how much and to whom. This is exactly what the Centre has done by easing the process,” the Union Health minister said.
TV actress Kamya Panjabi joins Congress in Mumbai
The Congress got a fresh dose of glamour with well-known television actress Kamya Panjabi joining the party here on Wednesday.
Mumbai Congress President Bhai Jagtap and other leaders like Charan Singh Sapra welcomed Panjabi to the party fold.
Shooting to popularity with her appearance in the reality show “Bigg Boss-7” (2013), Panjabi has been working in the entertainment industry for over two decades and had expressed a desire to join politics and serve the masses.
Congress activist Niraj Bhatia and other leaders shared pictures of her joining the party on the social media.
Kamya, 42, has worked in several teleserials including “Banoo Main Teri Dulhann”, “Maryada: Lekin Kab Tak”, “Shakti – Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki”, “Rethi”, Astitva… Ek Prem Kahani”, “Piya Ka Ghar”, and “Kyun Hota Hai Pyaar”.
Besides, she has acted in Bollywood films like “Na Tum Jaano Na Hum”, “Yaadein”, “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani”, “Koi.. Mil Gaya”, and music videos like “Mehndi Mehndi” and a play “Pajama Party”
Amarinder to meet Shah on farmers’ stir
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will lead a non-political delegation of agricultural experts to meet the Union Home Minister to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing farmers’ agitation on Thursday.
Disclosing this here on Wednesday, Amarinder Singh, who announced to float a new political party with seat sharing with parties, including the BJP, said he had been discussing various options with Home Minister Amit Shah, whom he will be meeting in Delhi again on Thursday, and others.
“I think I can help in finding a solution as I have been the Chief Minister of Punjab and am also an agriculturist,” Amarinder Singh told a press conference.
While there could be no pre-decided formula for resolution of the farmers’ stir, something will emerge during the talks as both sides — the Central government and farmers — want a resolution to the crisis triggered by the farm laws, he said.
Making it clear that he had not met any farmer leaders, the former Chief Minister said he had deliberately not interfered in the matter as the farmers did not want politicians involved.
The farmer leaders had four inconclusive meetings with the Centre but back channel talks have been going on, he added.
Amarinder Singh had earlier said any seat arrangement he made with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be subject to a resolution of the farmers’ issue in their interest.
TN CM announces Rs 5L as relief to kin of victims killed in fire
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin announced a financial compensation of Rs five lakh to the family of all five persons killed due to an alleged fire in a firecracker shop in Kallakurichi district.
Eight others were reportedly injured in the incident, which occurred on Tuesday evening and are in a serious condition.
Stalin announced a relief of Rs one lakh to the injured persons admitted in the Kallakurichi government hospital.
The deceased victims include Khaleed (23), Shah Alam (25), Shaikh Basheer (67) and Ayyasamy (62). The police said it is yet to identify the fifth deceased victim.
Police sources told IANS that the mishap occurred due to a short circuit in an electric line and further investigation is on to ascertain the exact cause. A grocery shop was allegedly converted into a firecracker shop ahead of Diwali and was doing brisk business when the incident occurred.
The whole building was engulfed in fire and the police and fire personnel from Sankarapuram and Kallakurichi arrived at the spot to douse the fire.
Kallakurichi District Collector, P.N. Sridhar told media that the fire was doused after nearly three hours of intense efforts by the team of fire personnel and the police units that rushed to the spot.
The team cordoned off the area and started rescue operations as well as saved the grievously injured from the fire engulfed building.
State Minister, E.V. Velu reached the spot and visited the injured persons at the Kallakurichi government hospital on the same day of the incident.
The police said further investigation is on and whether the grocery shop that was converted into a firecracker shop had the mandatory license to conduct business. Whether the shop had the precautionary measures required to conduct a firecracker business, the police added.
The state government had issued warnings to the people and the firecracker manufacturers and traders to be safe during the Diwali season.
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