Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

MODI ADDRESS

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or 49% of the deaths to Covid-19 – and this, combined with the supply situation, made the vaccine drive chaotic.

States also found it impossible to deal with foreign manufactur­ers, many of whom wanted the Union government to provide them protection from lawsuits for adverse events (discussion­s on this are on). In just a few weeks, the PM said, states came out and said the old system was better.

India has already administer­ed in excess of 230 million doses, Modi said, and its vaccine drive is among the fastest in the world, but the new policy will make it faster.

To be sure, apart from the unwillingn­ess of foreign companies such as Pfizer and Moderna to deal with the states, and their inability to get anywhere with their global tenders, the states were significan­tly hampered by the sheer lack of supply.

With demand increasing manifold suddenly – there are 600 million Indians between the ages of 18 and 45 years who became eligible for vaccines on May 1 – and supplies not keeping pace, this was always going to be a problem.

The situation has improved in June, with the government anticipati­ng supplies of at least 120 million doses, and the number is expected to increase even more in coming months.

The Union government has said that 2.16 billion vaccines will be available in India between August and December, but this number includes aggressive estimates for the production of some existing vaccines, and some vaccines that are still in different stages of developmen­t and testing.

India has approved three vaccines (one locally developed, a second made under licence, and a third imported as well as locally made by at least half a dozen companies under licence) and most experts are convinced that vaccine supply will improve in coming months, especially with the local production of Sputnik V, which India is currently importing.

The Prime Minister referred to this in his speech and said there were seven vaccines in various stages of developmen­t and three in final trials, including a nasal vaccine, which, if approved, would significan­tly speed up the pace of vaccinatio­ns. Among the vaccines in late stage trials is one developed by Biological E, for which India has already placed an advance order for 300 million doses. Two vaccines are also being tested on children, the PM said.

The government has already told the Supreme Court that it plans to vaccinate all eligible Indians by the end of this year.

Responding to criticism of India’s vaccine strategy, Modi said that the government set up a vaccine task force as far back as April 2020, supported vaccine makers through trials and through funding, and planned a phased delivery of vaccines starting with healthcare workers, something that helped them work without fear and serve people during the second wave.

Describing the coronaviru­s pandemic as a “once in a 100year” epidemic, the PM said he understood that many Indians had lost people to Covid-19, and that his sympathies were with them. The disease was “unpreceden­ted in the modern world” but India fought it together, he added, “building hospitals, increasing ICU capacity, making ventilator­s, creating new health infrastruc­ture…”.

And then, he said, when, during the second wave, the country saw the kind of demand for medical oxygen that it had never seen before, it sourced liquid oxygen and concentrat­ors from all parts of the world, deploying its navy and air force, using trains to move oxygen tankers, and working on a manifold increase in oxygen manufactur­ing capacity.

At a time such as this, Modi added, “politickin­g” isn’t good. It is important that states focus on the task at hand, he said – vaccinatin­g everyone, including the last person in line. Some people have been consistent­ly spreading misinforma­tion about vaccines, he added, leading to fears and hesitancy among people. Such people, he added, are “playing with the lives of innocents”.

The Union government has repeatedly targeted opposition politician­s for their comments on vaccines and said this could lead to hesitancy.

Acknowledg­ing the impact of the second wave, the PM said that a winner does not concede defeat when faced with a crisis. “I am confident we will win,” he said. “India will win.”

month. “We want the court to look into this ecological­ly sensitive matter,” he said.

Avian expert Sanjay Sondhi, also the co-author of “Updated Checklist and Bibliograp­hy of the Birds of Uttarakhan­d” said Sattal is likely the best bird watching site in the state. “There should be no junky tourism developmen­t there; it should be left unspoiled for birds,” he said.

Pankaj Upadhyay, secretary, Nainital Lake Developmen­t Authority, said ₹6 crore will be spent on the Sattal lake redevelopm­ent and beautifica­tion project. “We have plans to build a children’s park, a small park and a sitting area, develop pathways and undertake landscapin­g around the lake to beautify it. The contract for the project has been given a few days back and work will start soon,” he said.

Mukul Sharma, forest range officer, Bhawali (under which Sattal falls), said the works proposed by the forest department haven’t been built yet.

“Interpreta­tion centre is meant to educate people and bird lovers about the avian diversity found in this area. The library will have books on wildlife and nature. Besides, we have plans to build a small office for the ticket giver. All these will not take much space. We are not doing anything to disturb the area but help the visitors to understand the diversity of birds found in the area and admire them,” he said.

Subodh Uniyal, cabinet minister and spokespers­on of the state government, said he will look into the matter. “The locals who are opposing the redevelopm­ent should make a representa­tion to me so that I can get the whole matter examined and see what can be done on this issue,” he said.

been extended by one more week (up to June 14).

While many shops with odd numbers slowly opened their outlets on Monday, there were several others who chose to wait for a few more days to monitor the situation to finally restart their business.

“Many activities are resuming in Delhi from today. But take all the precaution­s to prevent corona completely – wear a mask, keep social distance and keep washing hands, there should be no laxity at all,” Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.

The Capital reported 231 new instances of the Covid-19 infection on Monday, the lowest since March 2, while 36 more people succumbed to the disease.

Maharashtr­a also begun unlocking in a graded manner from Monday as the state’s fivelevel plan to ease curbs came into effect. The lockdown was imposed in April following the devastatin­g second Covid-19 wave.

Mumbai falls in level-3 where all shops can open, restaurant­s can serve customers till 4pm on weekdays, private offices can be reopened with 50% staff, also till 4pm, and people can go for jogging and to gymnasiums, with certain conditions.

Although a state government notificati­on allowed all women commuters to use local trains, the Brihanmumb­ai Municipal Corporatio­n (BMC) on Saturday restricted the services to medical staff and a few essential sectors. However, commuters were able to travel by BEST buses provided with no standing passengers allowed. With offices opening up and trains not accessible for general public, several traffic jams and crowded buses were seen during peak hours in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.

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