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Goa CM Pramod Sawant reverses ban on priests visiting homes for Ganesh Chaturthi puja




Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has scrapped his government’s Covid SOPs for the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi season issued by the state administration, saying he does not agree with a specific guideline which bars priests from visiting homes to offer puja on the festive occasion.

The Congress on Wednesday slammed the BJP-led coalition government for the confusion ahead of the state’s most important Hindu festival, especially at a time when Covid cases have witnessed an increase in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra.

“I personally do not agree with some of the guidelines that were issued in the SOP, especially the one stopping priests from going to individual households for puja. Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival in Goa and such rituals are an integral part of it,” Sawant said, while announcing his decision to scrap the SOPs.

“While the expert committee may have suggested such curbs, I have asked the administration to withdraw the SoP immediately. Chaturthi must be celebrated with full fervour while taking all the necessary precautions, given the pandemic,” Sawant said.

The SOPs had urged families to use technology and social media platforms to perform puja on their own.

“The priest shall be prohibited [from] performing Ganesh Pooja by going to individual households, they may perform online pooja. Also the families should be encouraged to perform self puja using various technological means like YouTube, WhatsApp, etc,” the now cancelled SOPs also previously said.

The SOPs earlier issued by the state government had said that Ganesh Chaturthi ‘aartis’ and other allied programmes should be held via the online mode instead, especially when it came to public celebration of the festival, which the now-scrapped SOP said should be “preferably encouraged to conduct ‘Aarati’, ‘bhajan’, ‘kirtan’ and other religious programmes through online mode… or any other electronic media, instead of cultural programmes”.

The SOPs also said that organisers of public Ganesh celebrations “should give priority in organizing health camps including blood donation camps and through these programmes IEC activity may be carried out on corona, malaria, dengue and other diseases”.

The SOPs had also urged families to immerse the Ganesh idol — at the end of the festivities — in their own houses, instead of the standard custom where worshippers move out in groups to immerse Ganesh idols at the nearest water body like a lake, river or sea.

“However, if it is not possible, then only immersion should be carried out at the nearest immersion point. No processions shall be allowed while bringing the idols to the immersion point. No gathering after the immersion will be allowed,” the SOPs had said.

The Congress in Goa has slammed the government for the faux pas.

“Such an important SOP, connected to the majority of people who follow Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa. Such SOPs not passing through the CM is doubtful. Such a situation arises when the Goa administration is being run by bureaucrats,” party spokesperson Trajano D’mello said.

“In my opinion, this has been done essentially to divert the hurt feelings of every citizen of the state, due to the high prices that they are not in a position to celebrate with the same pomp and enthusiasm that Ganesh is celebrated all these years,” D’Mello added.

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Modi inaugurates 9 medical colleges in UP




Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Monday, inaugurated nine medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh, virtually from Siddhartha Nagar.

These nine medical colleges are situated in the districts of Siddharth Nagar, Etah, Hardoi, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Mirzapur and Jaunpur.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that the new medical colleges, besides giving a boost to health infrastructure, would also create new job avenues for the youth and those wanting to make a career in the medical sector.

“The image of Purvanchal, till now, was that hundreds of children die here due to encephalitis. Now Purvanchal will be known as a region that gives the light of health. This is the first time that so many medical colleges are being inaugurated at one go,” he said.

He further said that the previous government lacked the political will to ensure the welfare of the people.

“They only ensure their own welfare and that of their families. The cycle of corruption ran very fast,” he said in an obvious reference to the Samajwadi Party whose election symbol is cycle.

Meanwhile, eight Medical Colleges have been sanctioned under the centrally sponsored scheme for ‘Establishment of new medical colleges attached with district/ referral hospitals’ and one Medical College at Jaunpur has been made functional by the state government through its own resources.

Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, preference is given to underserved, backward and aspirational districts.

The scheme aims to increase the availability of health professionals, correct the existing geographical imbalance in the distribution of medical colleges and effectively utilise the existing infrastructure of district hospitals.

Under three phases of the Scheme, 157 new medical colleges have been approved across the nation, out of which 63 medical colleges are already functional.

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Amit Shah pays obeisance at Mata Kheer Bhawani temple in Kashmir




Union Home Minister Amit Shah paid obeisance at the Mata Kheer Bhawani temple shrine in J&K’s Ganderbal district on Monday at the end of his three-day visit to the union territory.

Extraordinary security arrangements were made in and around the Mata Kheer Bhawani temple in Tullamulla town of Ganderbal district for Shah’s visit.

Heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces was made in Ganderbal town where the home minister landed in a helicopter and was then driven to the nearly 5 kilometre long distance to the temple shrine accompanied by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha.

Mata Kheer Bhawani temple shrine is the holiest religious place of worship for the Kashmiri Pandit community.

After their exodus from the Valley in early 1990s, migrant Pandits from different parts of the country have been arriving at Tullamulla to attend the annual festival at the deity’s temple shrine.

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Priyanka promises to give healthcare up to Rs 10L free in UP




Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has promised free healthcare up to Rs 10 lakh if the party comes to power in the state.

Priyanka in a tweet in Hindi on Monday said, “During the corona period and the fever spread in the state, due to the negligence of the government, the health services have collapsed which everyone has witnessed… and now if Congress comes to power treatment up to Rs 10 lakh will be provided free for any disease.”

She said she had taken consent of the manifesto committee and this announcement would be a part of that.

On Saturday she had announced seven resolutions of the party which includes — power bills would be cut by half, sugarcane rates would be increased to Rs 400 and farm loans will be waived.

Earlier, she also announced to give smartphones and electronic scooty to girls if the party comes to power in the state. She said, “I met some students, they said they need smartphones to study and for security. I am happy that with consent of the manifesto committee, the UP Congress today took a decision to give smartphones to the girls who pass Intermediate and electronic scooty to Bachelor students.”

Priyanka had also announced that her party would give 40 per cent tickets to women in the upcoming Assembly elections. She said that all women who want to bring about a change in the system, are welcome to come forward and contest elections.

Priyanka flagged-off three ‘Pratigya yatras’ in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday aimed at garnering support for the party from every part of the state ahead of the crucial 2022 Assembly polls.

The first route from Awadh in Barabanki joining the districts of Bundelkhand till Jhansi, while the second route has been prepared for different districts of western Uttar Pradesh and the Brij region.

Similarly, the third route has been earmarked for the Purvanchal region.Apart from Barabanki, the yatra will cover the two other cities of Saharanpur and Varanasi.

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