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Maharashtra to give free Covid vaccine jabs to all above 18



In a significant decision, Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has decided to vaccinate all the people in the state aged 18-45 free of cost, a minister said on Sunday.

The state will bear the cost of inoculation of all its people between the age group of 18-45, from the next phase which will start on May 1.

The ongoing vaccination drive and the plans ahead for the second phase were discussed at the weekly Cabinet meeting last week, said Nationalist Congress Party national spokesperson and Minorities Affairs Minister Nawab Malik.

Later, Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar announced that the would float global tenders and vaccines would be purchased for the people of the state.

“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would make an announcement in this regard soon,” he said.

Informing the media on Sunday, Malik said that in the time of crisis the government would go out and help its people.

“As per the Deputy CM’s announcement, we will float tenders and get the best vaccine at the most competitive rates. We need to procure nearly 14 crore vaccine doses as two jabs are needed,” he said.

The government’s top officials are also in touch with managements of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech (BB), which are manufacturers of Covishield and Covaxin, respectively, which are currently administered in the country.

Both companies have given vaccines to the Centre at Rs 150 per dose.

Serum Institute has offered vaccine at Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals, while Bharat Biotech vaccine will be available at Rs 600 per dose for state hospitals and Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals.

The MVA announcement was greeted with approval on social media as the state is the worst-hit by the corona pandemic.

Maharashtra, along with other states, had earlier also objected to the Centre’s new vaccination policy and related issues.


Unearth fake vaccination racket, Bombay HC to Maharashtra government




Taking serious cognizance of the Covid vaccination frauds that recently shocked Mumbai, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation to catch the kingpins and unearth the entire racket.

Hearing the PIL filed by a social activist, advocate Siddharth Chandrashekhar, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni asked the Mumbai Police to submit the status report of its investigations into the scams by Thursday.

Suggesting that the government and the civic body could form a policy on priority to ensure no innocents suffer, the court wanted to know whether a system could be created to keep track of the doses which are released to the organisers of private inoculation camps in housing societies, corporate houses or educational institutions.

Stressing on the urgent need to form relevant guidelines, the court said that the frauds are taking place mostly in the western suburbs (of Mumbai) and said the racket must be unearthed to find out the kingpin defrauding people in such a ‘novel’ way.

“It is unimaginable that during this time of crisis when the entire humanity is suffering, people are committing such frauds,” the judges noted.

The court further asked the state and the BMC to inform them about the procedures that can be adopted by the housing societies to prevent such fake inoculation camps and said they should invoke the provisions of the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act against the culprits.

The BMC’s counsel, senior advocate Anil Sakhare, informed the court that the Mumbai Police are already investigating the issue and the civic body has also initiated the necessary measures.

“Imagine the plight of the person vaccinated with water. His state of mind is unimaginable,” the court said while hearing the petitioner’s lawyer Anita Castellino on the fraudulent vaccination drive on 390 members and others in the posh Hiranandani Heritage Society in Kandivali west last month.

Later, other instances also came to light, including at the Aditya College in Borivali and the Tips Industries Ltd in Andheri, even as the police swooped and nabbed five persons in connection with the fraud last week.

In most of these #VToo scams that have emerged, there are several common points like the vaccination data not uploaded on the CoWIN portal, the Covid Vaccination Certificate (CVCs) not issued or delayed and coming from different hospitals with many errors, people not experiencing the possible side-effects post-dose, exorbitant charges for vaccines which the government has now started giving for free, the vaccine vials were not sealed or stamped ‘Not For Sale’ etc.

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Caste certificate cancellation: SC stays HC order in MP Navneet Kaur Rana’s case




In a relief for Navneet Kaur Rana, first-time MP from Maharashtra’s Amaravati, the Supreme Court has stayed a High Court order cancelling her Scheduled Caste certificate.

A bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari stayed the operation of the Bombay High Court order and issued notice on her petition against the HC order. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Rana, submitted that the terms Mochi and Chamar are synonymous, and the scrutiny committee had decided her caste status based on original records produced before it. He said the genuineness of the documents was not contested; however, the High Court reversed the scrutiny committee’s decision in a writ petition.

Rana had successfully contested the Amaravati Lok Sabha seat, reserved for Scheduled Castes. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners who approached the High Court challenging Rana’s caste certificate, submitted before the bench that the vigilance committee had found that the documents were fabricated. Sibal said the stay cannot be granted without hearing him and cited the findings of the vigilance cell relating to fabrication of documents. The bench asked Sibal to file a counter-affidavit in the matter.

The bench noted that if the High Court was dissatisfied with the findings of the scrutiny committee, it should have sent the matter back to the committee for fresh consideration. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court stayed the High Court order.

Rana had moved the top court challenging the High Court order, which cancelled her caste certificate saying it was obtained using fabricated documents. The MP would have lost her Lok Sabha seat if the court order was not put on hold.

On June 8, the High Court had also imposed a cost of Rs 2 lakh, which she was to deposit with the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority within two weeks.

“In our view, it was systematic fraud committed by the respondent no.3 (Rana) with the assistance of her father to obtain the caste certificate Mochi by fabricating the records to enable her to contest the election for Member of Parliament in the Constituency reserved for reserved category candidate and other benefits available to such caste under Constitution of India,” the High Court had said.

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After Black Fungus, Maharashtra gets 21 cases of the dreaded Delta Plus variants




Sounding fresh alarm bells, at least 21 cases of the dreaded Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 have been reported in Maharashtra, Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said.

“So far, we have found 21 cases of Delta Plus variant in the state,” a grim Minister Tope said here late on Monday, as health circles went into a tizzy to tackle the unfolding new public health challenge.

The highest number of cases has been detected in the coastal districts like Ratnagiri (9), Mumbai (2) and one case each in Palghar, Thane and Sindhudurg districts, while another 7 cases detected in Jalgaon in interior northern Maharashtra.

The incidence of the Delta Plus variants comes close in the heels of the Mucormycosis or Black Fungus that the state is grappling with since the past couple of months

State Covid-19 Task Force Member Dr. Uday Kulkarni assured today that there is no cause for worry and efforts are on to determine the treatment course and other protocols to control it.

So far, the state has tested over 7,500 and more are being collected at the rate of 100 per district for the Delta variants, said officials.

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