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How Maharashtra wasted thousands of tonnes of pulses during COVID

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The state of Maharashtra, governed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has been the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Maharashtra has had upwards of 3 million positive cases and even in the second wave, the worst-hit state in India is Maharashtra. Under the circumstances, the central government and the state governments were expected to work closely to implement welfare schemes that could help the needy sail through difficult times. However, the Maharashtra government seems to have failed at that.p

MLA Mulund, Mihir Kotecha, put out a video of the massive wastage of Chana Dal/pulses in Maharashtra due to the bad policies of the state, especially Chagal Bhujhbal who is serving as Cabinet Minister of Food and Civil Supply, Consumer Affairs in Government of Maharashtra.

In the video posted by Kotecha, he says that the pulses that have now got infested and spoilt have been lying there since August/September. According to him, since October, 1,800 kg Dal have been spoilt in this shop itself. In other places, 3,00,000 kg chana dal has been spoilt. For the past three months, he says that the Maharashtra government, especially Chagan Bhujbal, are extremely busy responding to him. According to him, Rs 180 crores worth of pulses have now gone to waste in Maharashtra.

Further, OpIndia accessed a note by the Government of India that shows how the Maharashtra government delayed in writing to the central government about the leftover pulses with the state, allocated under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, while other states got their permission to avoid wastage.

In the note, it is detailed that in the beginning of the distribution of pulses, the Department of Consumers Affairs, through various Video Conferences (VC) with the States/UTs, had instructed the following to avoid spoilage of pulses:

  1. In the video conference held on 22nd July 2020, it was decided that the balance pulses/chana whole under PMGKAY-1 and Atma Nirbhar Bharat lying with the States should be utilized against the distribution under extended PMGKAY-2
  2. In the joint video conference held on 2nd September 2020, it was decided that any leftover quantity of foodgrains/pulses which remain undistributed shall be adjusted with subsequent allocation/lifting of the whole chana under the ongoing PMGKAY-2. This was again reiterated in the VC held on 22nd September and States were asked to inform NAFED accordingly about their adjusted allocations so that spoilage could be minimized.

Interestingly, according to the note, in the video conference held on the 26th of November 2020, Maharashtra had informed the central government that they had 910 MT under PMGKAY-1 and 804 MT under Atma Nirbhar Bharat was left-over with the state and therefore, the central government should make adjustments in the subsequent release of pulses under PMGKAY-2.

After this, a special request by Maharashtra had also delayed the allocation of pulses under PMGKAY-2. Maharashtra had specially requested to distribute processed chana dal and therefore, the allocation was delayed by a bit.

Further, after the allocation of pulses under PMGKAY-2, the states were informed on the 18th of December 2020 that they are to give the central government an audit to inform them of the distribution done and the number of pulses left with the state. Subsequently, after several reminders, other states did sent their audits to the central government and asked permission for the utilisation of the left-over pulses with them.

Here is a table of when the other states requested for the utilisation of left-over pulses.

Part of the GOI note

While the central government gave their approval to the other states to utilise the left-over pulses, Maharashtra was left behind, and not for the fault of the central government.

While the central government informed states and requested an audit of numbers on 18th December and other states managed to send in their requests to utilise left-over pulses latest by March 2021 (Congress ruled Rajasthan, Left ruled Kerala, and AAP led Delhi), Maharashtra delayed the request even further.

According to the note by the Government of India, Maharashtra wrote a letter to the central government on the 6th of April 2021that 6441.922 MT of pulses/chana whole is leftover quantity under PMGKAY I & II and ANB. The central government further received the letter on the 8th of April. The approval by the central government came on the 13th of April and the response to the Maharashtra government was sent on the 15th of April 2021. Per this permission by the central government, Maharashtra was informed it may utilize 6441.922 MT of the leftover quantity of pulses /chana whole for distribution among National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiary households through various welfare schemes/ programmes run by the Government.

What is extremely relevant in this case is the fact that while the Government of India had asked the state to provide details of left-over pulses on 18th December 2020 itself, Maharashtra waited till April 6th 2021 to tell the central government about the left-over pulses, thousands of metric tonnes that too. In the meantime, it is apparent from the video that several thousand tonnes of the pulses, that should have benefitted the needy under harsh conditions of a pandemic, have gone to waste and have been deemed unfit for consumption.

In the time of a pandemic, the Maharashtra government must provide an answer as to why thousands of tonnes of pulses seem to have gone to waste and why the Maharashtra government waited for months, from December to April, to write to the central government about the utilisation of left-over pulses.

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‘Delhi govt was not organizing the logistics, they were just complaining’: Siddharth Jain of INOX

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The demand for medical oxygen in India has jumped manifold amidst the more virulent second wave of Covid-19. Several states have raked the issue of lack of oxygen supplies and pinned the blame on the Centre for the crisis. Amongst all such states, Delhi has been at the forefront of playing the blame game.

For all this while, Delhi had been harping that the state has been receiving Oxygen way below its quota. Until May 12, the AAP govt was whining that it should be getting 976 MT of Oxygen per day, though it was allocated 730 MT of oxygen. This went on until the Supreme Court ordered an audit of oxygen used by various states, which the Delhi govt was vehemently opposing in the court.

No sooner did the SC order an oxygen audit than Delhi rushed to admit that they have access supply of the same and also offered to give the surplus oxygen to the States who need it. Its oxygen demand magically dropped to 582 MT per day despite the number of active Covid-19 cases dropping only marginally.

Later it was also revealed that Delhi’s actual demand was much less than what the Kejriwal government was demanding, and they had to ask the suppliers to take back oxygen and store it in their tanks as Delhi hospitals don’t have large storage tanks to keep the excess oxygen. 

Inox Air products director Siddharth Jain says Delhi wasn’t organising the logistics and was just complaining

While all the information available until now is more than enough to believe that despite the Kejriwal Government blaming the centre, it is more of its own shortcomings which have led to the oxygen crisis in the national capital, Siddhart Jain, the director of INOX Air Products has also affirmed the same.

Speaking to Quartz, Jain said that, unlike other states, Delhi was not arranging for logistics to call for the oxygen to the state, instead just complaining. “It was only later after a lot of pressure was put on them, they started moving it”, said Jain explaining how it is the job of the state, not the center, to organize the logistics and get the allocated product.

Clearing the air on India’s current oxygen crisis, the supply chain issues and the central and state government’s role, Jain said that it is not the union government’s job to pick up the oxygen and deliver it to end locations. 

“It is not their job to go to Odisha, pick up the oxygen and come to Mumbai and pour it in a tank. What do the states exist for? What is their job? It is the job of the state to go and organise the logistics and go and get the allocated product”, said the Inox director.

AAP Govt only one complaining about supply issues, Jain

Here it is important to mention hat Delhi is supplied oxygen by 4 suppliers, Inox, Linde, Air Liquide and Goyal Gases.

Jain reiterated here that the Delhi government is the only one complaining about supply issues and doing nothing to resolve it. Breaking down information for a layman, Jain said that there are only 70 plants that manufacture oxygen in India. He said that the central government’s job is to inform these manufacturers to produce a certain amount of oxygen. The Center formed a committee to approve the oxygen demand by the states and a chart that was made for each state with a name and an allocation volume. 

Here, he said that the role of the central government ends and that of the state begins. It is the job of the state government’s to arrange for logistics to make sure the supplies reach to them in the stipulated time, which unfortunately the Kejriwal government failed to do, confirmed Siddharth Jain.

Speaking about the logistical challenges, Jain rued that India has only 1,170 cryogenic transportation tankers out of which Inox has 320. “India has only 70 oxygen plants and these 1,170 containers were moving the entire production of oxygen. Earlier, out of 100 tankers that we would manufacture only 15 were going to medical, and 85 were going to industry. So all our plants are located in areas very close to industry, and not in the most densely populated areas where there are hospitals. But now, there is a requirement for oxygen everywhere. So we needed to transport these tankers to the entire country”, explained Jain.

Jain added that the production of medical oxygen has been ramped up in his plant, He said that his company has set up a new plant and also made investments in technological innovation inside their existing plants to increase its capacities. They have also reduced the capacity of some other gases that they make, such as nitrogen and argon, and are using those capacities to increase oxygen production.

While AAP Govt whines, data reveals Delhi returning oxygen to suppliers due to storage constraints

Meanwhile, while Delhi continues to bicker and indulge in petty politicking over oxygen, vaccination and other medical supplies, it has been cleared that in the last 10 days, Delhi received 530 MT of oxygen per day on average. But given the fact that the AAP govt returned 74 MT on 9th May and later asked the companies to store around 100 MT in their tanks, it means that the actual demand in Delhi is less than 500 MT. This means the union govt’s estimate of Delhi’s demand was correct and the Delhi govt was demanding 700 MT despite using less than 500 MT per day.

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Underwater Quake Shakes West Indonesia, No Tsunami Warning

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A strong undersea earthquake shook western Indonesia on Friday, but no tsunami warning was issued and no damage was immediately reported.

People were running from their houses,” said a local disaster mitigation agency official, Hiramo, who goes by a single name.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.6 quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) and was centered 257 kilometers (159 miles) south of Sinabang, a town on the east coast of Simeulue Island, which lies off the western coast of Sumatra.

No tsunami warning was issued by the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, and no casualties were immediately reported.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 271 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

Indonesia’s latest major earthquake was in January, when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 105 people and injured nearly 6,500, while displacing more than 92,000, in West Sulawesi province.

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here

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Pro-Palestine protesters attack man wearing Star of David necklace

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Footage from a Pro-Palestine protest in Manhattan, New York depicting a bloodied man wearing a Star of David necklace escaping the protestors went viral on social media on Tuesday. Allegedly, the victim made hateful comments to the protestors, which led to the protestors throwing a metal chair towards the victim’s face and then chasing him. It is not clear what such alleged comments might have been.

The video appears to depict a police officer escorting the victim, who has not yet been identified, with a bloodied face across the street. The incident took place on Tuesday evening.

The video showcases a pro-Palestine protestor woman accusing the victim of making hateful comments. “He said really hateful comments,” the woman says.

As a police officer tries to escort the bloodied victim to safety, someone can be heard shouting intensely ‘Run p***y’ as the man darts across the street, with several protestors carrying the Palestinian flag chasing them.

The bloodied man winds up in a local store as a woman repeats ‘f*** you’ towards him.

Reporter Elad Eliahu, who was covering this situation as it was unfolding, said that the NYPD riot squad managed to catch up to the alleged chair-thrower, but ultimately decided to let him go.

According to the NYPD’s statement to DailyMail.com, “Police observed a verbal altercation with a crowd of people. The complainant entered the crowd and was struck in the head with a metal chair by an unknown individual, causing a laceration to their head. “

‘The complainant was removed to Bellevue Hospital,’ the NYPD continued. ‘There are no arrests at this time.’

The NYPD confirmed that the investigation into the incident remains ongoing. 

Situation in Israel

According to the BBC, at least 103 people have been killed in Gaza and seven in Israel since violence between the two sides was renewed. Gaza authorities claim that at least 27 of those who have died were civilian children. However, Israel has said that many of the deaths were of Gaza militants or due to rocket misfires from Gaza. 

On Thursday, three rockets were fired from Lebanon into the sea off of northern Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). No group has claimed responsibility for those rockets yet.

Israel’s military said on Thursday that it hit several targets in Gaza, including intelligence buildings and homes, as well as businesses that were allegedly being utilized by militants.

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