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Maha Health Minister Rajesh Tope’s home district was sent 60,000 doses more than its quota: Report

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The state of Maharashtra ran out of vaccines from April 7 to 9 forcing the vaccination centres to shut despite the Centre claiming that the state should have stocks available for a few more days.

While most vaccination centres were locked due to an acute shortage, the city of Jalna was sitting on a surplus that would last at least 10 more days, as per a report in Indian Express.

This is because NCP leader and Maharashtra’s Home Minister Rajesh Tope, whose hometown happens to be Jalna, was allotted an excess of 60,000 vaccine doses while the quota was just 17,000 doses.

The extra doses were sent from the fresh supplies of 26.77 lakh doses received by the state from the Centre on March 31 to be distributed to all districts.

The Indian Express report said that Tope had called the Health Department officials and ordered them to increase the allocation to his district to 77,000 doses. Tope, however, denying the claims said, “no particular district was preferred” and insisted that if Jalna received more stocks, it was only “to encourage more vaccination”. 

Discrimination in supplies

It is imperative to note that on March 31, Jalna had only 773 active cases which was lower than at least 30 districts. In terms of daily vaccinations, its figure of 600-1,000 till March end put it among the 10 lowest-performing districts.

So while the other districts recorded more numbers of new coronavirus cases and a better vaccination administration percentage, the Health Minister’s district was given a priority.

Aurangabad, which is one of the six divisional storage centres for vaccines in the state, had diverted 60,000 doses from Aurangabad to Jalna on April 1 on the orders of State immunisation officer Dr DN Patil. Aurangabad had received 1.95 lakh doses, based on its 7,000-8,000 daily vaccinations.

At that point Jalna was conducting just 600-1000 vaccinations a day which means the district had enough vaccine doses for 15-18 days when stocks in other districts had depleted to suffice for only for five to ten days. Only after receiving the extra doses, did Jalna increase daily vaccinations to 3,000-5,000 in the first week of April.

This was also the period when the state of Maharashtra had made frantic calls to the Centre for more supplies.

The district of Beed which was clocking more cases of Covid-19 and better performance in vaccination drive received lesser doses. Only nine districts with vaccination numbers higher than that of Jalna received more stocks than the district on April 1 as per the report.

Jalna made to transfer excess stock

Sources informed that Tope “insisted” on allotting Jalna more stock from the huge supply received from Centre. 

District health officials informed that they requested the state government, including Tope, to urgently send more stocks. “We reasoned with the minister that stocks in Jalna would sit for days as other districts suffered. He eventually agreed to divert stocks from Jalna,” an official said.

With Jalna sitting on around 50,000 doses around April 07, 25 vaccination centres in Mumbai were shut due to shortage.

Finally, on April 08, Jalna was made to transfer 15,000 doses, to Washim, Yavatmal and Parbhani. However, “A few centres could not function for a day-and-a-half,” said Dr Avinash Aaher, Washim’s district health officer.

Devendra Fadnavis hits back at Maharashtra government

Leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis had lashed out on the MVA government on April 08 when demands were made to the Centre to increase vaccine supplies.

He said that vaccine supply is not based on population but vaccination performance. Posting a screenshot of a tweet from Maharashtra DGIPR, Fadnavis claimed, “Maharashtra received 1.06 crore vaccines. The tweet was made by DGIPR on April 6. 91 lakh vaccines were used. That means there are 1.5 million vaccines left. So, what is the reason for deliberately closing the Centre today and spreading false news about vaccines?.”

New cases in Maharashtra

As per PIB data, the state of Maharashtra has begun to register more recoveries than new cases. In the past 24 hours, the state recorded 51,880 new Covid-19 cases, 65,934 recoveries and 891 deaths. 

The Covid fatality rate in Maharashtra stands at 1.49%.

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NEWS

MP Plans Affordable Liquor Policy, 90ml Country Liquor Packs to Help the Poor, Stop Hooch Tragedies

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The Madhya Pradesh government’s excise policy for 2021-22 aims to package country liquor in 90 millilitre bottles so that it becomes affordable to the poor who may skip costlier 180ml bottles and opt for cheaper and possibly spurious liquor, officials said on Saturday. The move to have country liquor in smaller bottles comes after 38 people died drinking illicit liquor in Ujjain and Morena in October and January, they added.

The policy, cleared by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in its cabinet meeting on Friday, however, has put on hold plans to sell liquor online, unlike neighbouring Chhattisgarh which recently became the 12th state where people can purchase alcohol in this mode. “As per the new policy, liquor companies must pack 10 per cent of their production in 90ml bottles. Country liquor used to come in 180 ml packs, which some of the poor consumers may not have been able to afford and there was the risk of them turning towards cheaper and possibly spurious liquor,” an official explained.

“The 90 ml bottle may be more affordable as it will come at half the price of a quarter,” he added. The new excise policy will come into effect from June 1 and will be in force for just 10 months, the months of April and May having been “dry ones” due to the corona curfew in place, officials pointed out.

Under the new policy, licence fee of outlets has been hiked by 10 per cent to tide over excise losses brought about by the coronavirus-induced restrictions, they added. “The closure of liquor outlets has affected business by some Rs 32 crore daily,” MP Excise Commissioner Rajeev Dubey told PTI.

Corona curfew is in force in MP since April 20.

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Kid Reporter, Who Asked Obama to be His ‘Homeboy’ in Interview at White House, Dies at 23

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The student reporter who gained national acclaim when he interviewed President Barack Obama at the White House in 2009 has died of natural causes, his family says. Damon Weaver was 23 when he died on May 1, his sister, Candace Hardy, told the Palm Beach Post. Further details were not released. He had been studying communications at Albany State University in Georgia.

Weaver was 11 when he interviewed Obama for 10 minutes in the Diplomatic Room on August 13, 2009, asking questions that focused primarily on education. He covered school lunches, bullying, conflict resolution and how to succeed.

Weaver then asked Obama to be his “homeboy,” saying then-Vice President Joe Biden had already accepted. “Absolutely,” a smiling Obama said, shaking the boy’s hand. He used that meeting to later interview Oprah Winfrey and athletes like Dwyane Wade.

This May 23, 2016 file photo shows Royal Palm Beach High School student Damon Weaver during his high school graduation in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP)

“He was just a nice person, genuine, very intelligent,” Hardy said. “Very outspoken, outgoing. He never said no to anybody.”

Weaver got his start in fifth grade when he volunteered for the school newscast at K.E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary in a farm community on the shores of Lake Okeechobee.

“Damon was the kid who ran after me in the hall to tell me he was interested,” his teacher, Brian Zimmerman, told the Post in 2016. “And right away, I just saw the potential for the way he was on camera. You could see his personality come through. He wasn’t nervous being on camera.”

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All India Parisangh shares image from 2008 to target Modi govt

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On Saturday (May 15), Dalit organisation All India Parisangh (AIP) sparked controversy by taking potshots at the Modi government using a 13-year-old image. The organisation was founded by Dalit activist and Congress leader Udit Raj.

In a tweet, AIP wrote, “Unke ‘Mann ki baat’ kyu sunna, jab Ganga pe terti lasho par bhi khamosh raha.” It loosely translates as “Why should we listen to PM Modi’s monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ when he is silent on dead bodies floating in the river Ganga?”. The Dalit organisation shared a picture of a dog mauling a human skeleton, along the banks of a water body. At the time of writing, the image was retweeted 167 times and had 463 likes.

Screengrab of the post by the All India Parisangh

By posting the image, the organisation tried to insinuate that it is a recent image showing the mortal remains of a Covid-19 victim whose last rites were not performed. Reports of bodies of Covid victims floating on Ganga river have emerged in the last few days, and All India Parisangh tried to say the image also shows such an incident.

What is the Truth?

It may be noted that the image posted by All India Parisangh has the watermark of Alarmy on it, an stock image platform. Popular Twitter user ‘Befitting Facts’ pointed out that the stock image from Alarmy dates back to February 20, 2008. The disturbing picture was taken by one Dinodia Photos RM and captioned, “Dog eating dead man on Varanasi ghat, Uttar Pradesh in India.” Given the picture dates back to 2008, it must be remembered that the BJP did not have its government at the Centre nor at the State level. And as such, the unfortunate incident is not the result of PM Modi’s negligence.

Screengrab of the image via Alarmy

Earlier, close to 100 unidentified and decomposed bodies were found floating in the Ganga, sparking fear among the locals in several districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. While 71 bodies were recovered from Bihar’s Buxar district, other 25 bodies were fished from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district with locals suspecting them to be the bodies of Covid victims.

After Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in a horrifying video, at least half a dozen corpses were seen floating in the Runj river in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh. Buxar police suspected the bodies might have floated from the neighbouring Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. Authorities of both the districts were yet to confirm if the bodies were of Covid victims. As such, All India Parisangh seized the opportunity and shared a 13-year-old picture to blame the Modi government.

All India Parisangh compared Brahmins to pigs last year

Besides fake news, the Dalit organisation has been at the forefront of peddling Anti-Hindu hatred. It has time and again resorted to such vile derogatory casteist hurls targeting Brahmins, and resorted to the anti-Brahmin propaganda by posting an image of a pig wearing ‘Janeu’ – the sacred thread in July last year.

By openly propagating anti-Brahmin sentiments and comparing Brahmins to ‘pigs’, the Parisangh claimed that the Indian judiciary is only comprised of Brahmins. Expressing its contempt for the country’s judiciary, the Dalit organisation claimed that ‘Brahmin’ judges in the Indian courts only recommended fellow people from the community, who were then selected as judges by the third set of Brahmins. The derogatory comments were not only directed at the Brahmins of the country but also an attack on the independence of the judiciary.

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