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Punjab CM Amarinder Singh launches free travel facility for women




Taking another major step towards women empowerment, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday virtually launched a free travel facility for women in government buses running within the state.

“With this, we have fulfilled another poll manifesto promise,” said the Chief Minister, adding that after the record-making 85 per cent promises implemented, his government was now moving forward towards the realisation of all 100 per cent of the commitments.

Pointing out that other parties were promising free travel for women now in states going to polls, he said that while everyone talks about women empowerment, his government had taken several concrete measures to achieve it.

In fact, while the promise of his government was to reduce ticket price for women by 50 per cent, it had gone ahead to make it totally free, he said, urging private bus operators to also understand their social responsibility and reduce tariff.

Under the free travel scheme, which will benefit over 1.31 crore women and girls across the state, all women, irrespective of their financial status, will be able to travel free of cost in all non-AC buses, intra-state, just by showing Aadhaar or voter card or some other valid identity card.

Expressing concern over crimes against women, the Chief Minister said his government was committed to their safety, and the Transport Department was installing GPS systems in all government and private buses, to enable easy tracking of the vehicle, in addition to panic button for emergency use.

The process was nearly complete for government buses, and the private operators had been asked to complete it by August 31, he said.

He lauded the Transport Department for the innovative initiatives towards women safety.

Amarinder Singh further announced 25 more bus stations to be built in the state to improve road connectivity.

The free travel scheme, said the Chief Minister, will be a boost to the realisation of his government’s vision for inclusive growth and development of women and girls, who have already been provided 50 per cent reservation in Panchayati Raj and Local Body institutions in the state, along with 33 per cent reservation in government jobs.

In line with this commitment, 33,000 women will get jobs this year in the state, the Chief Minister pointed out, adding that a large number of girl students had also been provided smartphones to help them study during the pandemic.

During the virtual launch, connected live to 30,000 people across 1,036 locations, Surinder Kaur, travelling from Bagapurana to Jalandhar to fetch her medicines, said she was pleasantly surprised this morning to discover about the scheme on boarding a bus.

The scheme will be very helpful to women from the poor families.

One Naina said the move would make it much easier for her now to travel to meet her family and friends without worrying about the expenses.

Another woman commuter dubbed it a great decision for the empowerment of women.

Transport Minister Razia Sultana said her department would continue to work towards women safety in both public and private transport, while Social Security, Women and Child Development Minister Aruna Chaudhary termed the scheme yet another key initiative by the Amarinder government for the welfare and development of women.

Calling it a true women’s day gift, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar contrasted the state government’s mindset with that in Uttar Pradesh and some other states, which were becoming notorious for crime against women.

Punjab Youth Congress chief Barinder Dhillon lauded the move, which he said reflected the women empowerment ethos of the state government, which also has its first woman Chief Secretary now.

He also mooted free travel for students, to and fro to their educational institutes, to promote education.

National News

WHO has not associated ‘Indian Variant’ with B.1.617: Health Ministry




Ministry of Health and Family Welfare clarified on Wednesday that WHO has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with B.1.617, now classified as “Variant of Concern”.

Several media reports have covered the news of World Health Organisation (WHO) classifying B.1.617 as variant of global concern. Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an “Indian Variant”.

“These media reports are without any basis, and unfounded. This is to clarify that WHO has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in its 32 page document. In fact, the word “Indian” has not been used in its report on the matter,” it said

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Samajwadi MP Azam Khan critical but stable




Senior Samajwadi MP Mohd Azam Khan’s condition is now stable though the next 72 hours are crucial for him.

According to Rakesh Kapoor, director Medanta hospital, “The oxygen requirement of the veteran leader has come down but the severity of the ailment continues. He is in the ICU and is being treated by a team of doctors.”

Azam Khan, who was lodged in Sitapur jail, had tested positive for Covid earlier this month. He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday after he complained of breathlessness.

His son Abdullah Azam is also Covid positive and is being treated at the same hospital. However, the director said that his condition is stable and he is recovering.

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Govt’s mega push for positivity is like burying one’s head in the sand: Rahul Gandhi




Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday slammed the government over its mega push for positivity to fend off criticism nationally and internationally as “burying one’s head in the sand” and a betrayal of citizens.

In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said, “The false assurance of ‘positive thinking’ is a joke on those families and health workers who have lost their loved ones and are suffering a crisis of oxygen, hospitals and medicines. Burying one’s head in the sand is not positive – it is a betrayal of our citizens.”

He also attached a news report in Hindi with the tweet.

On the same day, poll strategist Prashant Kishor also slammed the government, describing as “disgusting attempts to push “propaganda” in the name of spreading positivity.

“In the face of a grieving nation and tragedies unfolding all around us, the continued attempt to push falsehood and propaganda in the name of spreading positivity is disgusting! For being positive we don’t have to become blind propagandist of the government,” Kishor said in a tweet.

The remarks came amid reports of a new strategy of the government, the ruling BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to fight massive national and international criticism of the Narendra Modi government’s handling of the Covid second wave.

On Wednesday, India recorded 4,205 deaths, the highest so far in a day with 3.48 lakh cases of Covid-19.

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