In a New Year shocker, the Maharashtra government has warned of the possibility of 80 lakh Covid-19 cases and 80,000 deaths as the third wave has apparently set in the state.
“Number of Covid infections in the third wave is going to be very huge,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Dr. Pradeep Vyas in a missive to all top government and health officials late on Friday.
“If there are 80 lakh Covid cases in third wave…, even if 1 per cent case fatality is presumed, we can land up with 80,000 deaths,” said Dr. Vyas in the grim communication.
He called upon the officials “not to be lulled” by the narratives that the third Covid / Omicron wave is mild and not fatal.
“It is equally fatal for those who are not vaccinated and have comorbidities. So please improve vaccination coverage and save lives,” appealed Dr. Vyas.
Cracking the whip, he asked officials “not to be complacent” based on media reports suggesting that the Omicron variant is mild and said “we need to think rationally and scientifically”.
Dr. Vyas pointed out that genomic sequencing results show that we still have the Delta variant in more than 70 per cent cases and the figures vary from district to district.
Referring to the US, Europe and South Africa where the hospitalisation rate is lesser compared with the rapid increase in the Covid cases, Dr. Vyas said medical opinion is divided on whether this is owing to the inherent nature of Omicron or due to the vaccination which was not available in the first and second waves.
“There are studies to show that Covid disease even in the present wave has been severe in unvaccinated persons… who are at as much risk (or rather more) as in the second wave (last year),” Dr. Vyas cautioned.
The letter has been sent to all Divisional Commissioners, District Collectors, Municipal Commissioners and CEOs of Zilla Parishads.
BJP appoints new bosses for Maharashtra, Mumbai
The Bharatiya Janata Party has appointed former ministers Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ashish Shelar as the chief of the part’s Maharashtra and Mumbai units, respectively, according to an announcement.
Bawankule and Shelar, both sitting legislators, replace Chandrakant Patil and Mangal Prabhat Lodha, who have been appointed as ministers in the government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, earlier this week.
As per a statement by BJP President J. P. Nadda, both appointments are made with immediate effect, and come ahead of the imminent elections to various civic bodies in the state.
CM Eknath Shinde snubs Thackeray again, drops Shiv Sena from BAC meet
In a fresh snub to ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray, his Shiv Sena faction in the Maharashtra Assembly was dropped from the crucial Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meet to prepare for the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Legislature.
Thackeray faction leader and chief whip Ajay Chaudhari had written to Speaker Rahul Narvekar seeking representation to the BAC, but it was rejected.
However, now two ministers from the faction headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde have been included in the BAC — Dada Bhuse and Uday Samant.
The BAC presided over by Shinde and attended by group leaders of all parties on Thursday decided to extend the Monsoon Session by two days and now it will be held from August 17-25.
This was because the legislature will not function on August 19 (Dahi Handi celebrations) and the weekend, and the two additional days would enable discussions and decisions on various issues.
The BAC comprises Assembly members like Shinde, BJP’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, NCP’s Jayant Patil, BJP’s Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil, and Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan.
Besides, there are other invitees like Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal (NCP), Ashish Shelar (BJP), Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP) and Amin Patel (Congress) in the BAC.
From the Council, besides Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe, the BAC has newly-appointed Leader of Opposition Ambadas Danve and Anil Parab, both from Shiv Sena, Pravin Darekar and Vijay Girdhar (BJP), Shashikant Shinde (NCP) and Bhai Jagtap (Congress).
The invitees from the upper house included Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil (BJP), Jayant Patil (PWP), Kapil Patil (Lok Bharati) and Vikas Potnis (Shiv Sena).
After the government headed by Shinde and Fadnavis was sworn-in on June 30, the monsoon session was originally scheduled to start on July 17, but was postponed for various reasons.
Skeletons peep out of Maharashtra CM’s ‘mini-cabinet’, 75% ministers face criminal cases
The 18-member ‘mini-cabinet’ expansion of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have thrown up many facts, including 75 per cent of the total 20 ‘crorepati’ ministers have criminal cases lodged against them.
According to a study conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a total of 15 ministers have declared criminal cases, including seven from the Shinde Group Shiv Sena and eight from the BJP, in the ‘gents only cabinet’.
Of these, 65 per cent — or 13 ministers — including seven from Shinde Group and six from the BJP have serious criminal cases filed against them.
Of the 20 crorepatis, BJP’s Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a reputed builder, is the richest among the ministers with assets worth Rs 441.65 crore and liabilities of Rs 283.36 crore.
Though a ‘crorepati’, the poorest in the lot is also BJP’s Sandipanrao A. Bhumre with assets of Rs 2.92 crore in his name.
The average assets of the ministers’ whose poll affidavits were analysed by ADR comes to Rs 47 crore — comprising the BJP’s Rs 58 crore and Shinde Group’s Rs 36 crore.
On the academic front, two ministers (or 10 per cent) have declared their educational track record as SSC pass, six (30 per cent) as HSC pass, 11 ministers (55 per cent) are higher qualified with degrees, and only one Dr. Suresh Khade of the BJP holds a doctorate from a university in Sri Lanka.
As far as the age group is concerned, 16 ministers (80 per cent) fall in the upper echelons aged between 51-70, and four (20 per cent) are between 41-50, said the ADR’s Maharashtra Election Watch, coordinated by Ajit Ranade, Sharad Kumar and Satish Khot.
CM Shinde carried out his much-awaited cabinet expansion on Tuesday, inducting 18 ministers, including three allegedly ‘tainted’. No women MLA could find a place in the cabinet and so could not the Independents and smaller parties.
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