The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies Congress and Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday slammed the BJP at the Centre questioning its decision to permit exports of Covid-19 vaccines when people in the country were dying.
“What was the need to export vaccines to other countries. Even to India’s rivals like Pakistan? It seems the government has left our people to die. Cities and villages all over the country are reduced to cremation grounds,” Maharshtra Congress president Nana Patole said.
Senior NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar also sought to know why the Centre exported Indian vaccines to foreign countries ignoring the urgent needs here.
“If the vaccines had not been sent abroad, we would not have experienced a shortage here now. But whatever has happened is gone, now at least the same quantities of vaccines must be imported for the people,” Pawar demanded.
The two senior leaders’ comments came four days after a Nagpur-based activist-lawyer Pranay Ajmera made shocking revelations through RTI how crores of vaccine doses were exported, either as ‘dole’ or as sale at rates cheaper than India, even as lakhs of domestic patients run helter-skelter for the life-saver jab.
As per official data, India exported a total of 663.698-lakh doses of the jab, consisting of 107.15-lakh doses to countries as ‘grant’, and the rest sold as per commercial agreements, to a total of 95 countries till date.
“For grant supplies, vaccines were procured at a rate of Rs 200/dose plus GST from Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd (SII-Pune) and at a rate of Rs 295/dose from Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL), in accordance with the authorization given by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MHFW),” the MEA’s RTI reply to Adv. Ajmera stated.
Pawar pointed out how experts are predicting a ‘third wave’ of Covid-19 by July-August for which the state government has already started making full preparations.
“For preventing and controlling it, vaccination is the best option available, and the Centre must allow the import of vaccines Considering the capacity of the two main manufacturers, Serum Institute of India Ltd and Bharat Biotech International Ltd, it will take us a long time to inoculate the entire population,” Pawar pointed out.
Patole concurred saying that worldwide, vaccination is considered the only viable option which is showing positive results and it is being used successfully, and India must also emulate.
Giving the example of other countries like Israel where vaccination is giving good results, the Deputy CM called for implementing the inoculation drive in a proper manner across India.
Amid a debate after the expose (IANS-April 27), barely a couple of days later, the two vaccine manufacturers had slashed their vaccine prices for the states, even as the country prepared to launch the mega-vaccination programme for all in the 18-44 age group from May 1.
“The question that remains unanswered is – when India with such a huge population is dying for the doses, where was the need for us to display such generosity, even many countries with low rates of infections and fatalities,” Adv Ajmera demanded.
He suggested that ideally, India should have ensured sufficient doses for her own citizens and created a surplus before the dole of the doses or permitting commercial exploitation by Indian companies.
#VToo: Now, Mumbai college complains of Vaccine scam
A Mumbai College on Saturday claimed it may have been cheated in a vaccination drive on it campus, conducted by an event management company earlier this month.
According to the Aditya College, Borivali west, one Rajesh Pandey, who reportedly posed as an event company head and chief manager of sales for the reputed Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, had conducted the vaccination camp in the college on June 3.
However, the KDAH has already denied its involvement in such camps while the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has issued warnings to all people to beware of scamsters taking advantage of the situation.
In a statement, the Aditya College authorities said that Pandey allegedly even agreed to procure all necessary permissions and complete all legal formalities, while the college would only make the payments.
Accordingly, the inoculation drive was held for the students, staffers and their families as the trustees of the college, considering the difficulties in getting vaccination slots for people in the 18-44 age group.
Following the fracas involving the Hiranandani Heritage Society in Kandivali west last week, and delays in receiving the Covid Vaccination Certificates (CVC) by the beneficiaries in the college inoculation camp, the college authorities lodged a formal complaint with the police.
On Friday, Tips Industries Ltd Chairman Ramesh Taurani also revealed that 365 of his employees were inoculated on June 3 but have yet to receive their CVCs.
Police sources say that there may be at least 9 other similar camps conducted in the city by one or more groups which are now being probed in detail.
In the cases that have come out so far, there are many common points – the CVCs not issued promptly, in many cases, the data not uploaded on the CoWin portal, people not experiencing any possible side-effects post-dose, CVCs that eventually came were from different hospitals with errors, high charges for the dose which the Centre now plans to give free to all from June 21, etc.
Notching a big breakthrough, Additional Commissioner of Police (Mumbai North Region) Dilip Sawant on Friday said that five persons have been arrested in connection with the vaccine scam in the Kandivali society.
As the scams are coming out, many people are worried whether they were administered the genuine vaccines or something else since in some cases the vials were not sealed, or they were stamped ‘Not For Sale’.
Maharashtra farmer faces ‘social boycott’, fine for damaging village deity
In a bizarre development, a farmer has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 21,000 for allegedly damaging a stone idol symbolising the village deity at his farm and also threatened with ‘social boycott’ if he failed to cough out the money, a Gondia police officials said here on Friday.
The incident occurred on June 9 when the peasant, Tikaram P. Pardhi was carrying out the ground levelling work in his farm where the stone idol got accidentally damaged, enraging the Sitepar village of around 2,600 people, said Amgaon Police Inspector Vilas Nale.
“Later, the Sitepar Village Panchayat met, ruled that the incident had hurt their religious sentiments and imposed a fine of Rs 21,000 with a threat of ‘social boycott’ if Pardhi refused to pay up. Since this is illegal, we have initiated action against the concerned persons there following the victim’s complaint,” Nale told IANS.
The defiant Pardhi rejected the punishment and countered the diktat by lodging a complaint with Amgaon Police Station on Wednesday (June 16) demanding action against the village elders, including a Police Patil.
The Investigating Officer Balraj Lanjewar said that the villagers believe the stone deity is their ‘Kul-Devta’ and as per traditions, they kick-off the new annual crop season during monsoon by worshipping the deity which was allegedly damaged by Pardhi in his field.
The village Sarpanch Gopal F. Meshram claimed that the fine amount would be used to repair the stone idol, perform ‘puja’ and sacrifice to appease the deity, and construct a small temple at the site to prevent any such accidents in future.
Pardhi said in his police complaint that he was not financially well-off and hence could not afford to pay the fine, after which the Panchayat warned him of a ‘social boycott’.
Nale revealed that besides the Sarpanch Meshram, eight others, including the village Police Patil, have been booked under sections of Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 and served them notices.
The accused include: Police Patil Ulhasrao B. Bisen, Tekchand D. Madavi, Rajendra H. Bisen, Pratap L. Bisen, Yogesh H. Bisen, Puran L. Bisen, Yadavrao S. Bisen and Sudhir H. Bisen, and further investigations are underway, Nale added.
Maharashtra to roll out mobile units to detect early hearing loss
In a unique initiative, the Maharashtra Health Department will use mobile units to check the hearing abilities of newborns in the state to diagnose and start their treatment early, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Thursday.
To be launched as a pilot project in Gadchiroli, Jalna and Pune, the project was conceived by Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule and will be taken forward by Abhijit Raut of the Disability Rights Development Forum of the Yashwantrao Chavan Pratisthan.
As per the Census 2011, there were a total of 55,569 hearing impaired children in the age group of 0-10, which is now estimated to be around 92,000, with 51 percent scattered in rural areas and 49 percent in urban centres.
At a detailed presentation, officials said that the National Deafness Prevention Programme is being implemented in 16 places in the state and now its scope would be further expanded to cover entire Maharashtra.
Tope also stressed on the implementation of OtoAcoustics Emission (OAE) tests among newborns and infants to detect and diagnose hearing disability and then initiate treatment, which is necessary for the overall development of children.
“Deafness can be prevented if this OAE test is done at an early stage. Therefore, this programme should be planned for early diagnosis and treatment,” he said.
The mobile units would travel to various primary health centres to check the hearing abilities of newborns, while hearing tests could also be carried out during a child’s immunisation sessions, he said.
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