THANE: The Kulkarnis from Thane did not give their school-going children their own mobile phones till they reached secondary section. However, the Covid-imposed lockdown and subsequent online school sessions forced the couple to purchase independent connections for their children as they were unable to share their gadgets due to their own work-from-home schedules. The Kulkarnis are among the lakhs of subscribers who unknowingly helped bring about a 22% rise in mobile phone connections in Maharashtra in the pandemic years of 2020-21 and 2021-22 compared to the non-Covid times. A cursory tally of the data released recently by the state government shows that while 1,306.2 lakh connections were operational in 2019-20, the number swelled to 1,265.8 lakh in the first nine months of 2021-22. In 2020-21, there were 1,325.6 lakh more connections with a monthly average of 110 lakh active connections. Interestingly, landline connections, which have been seeing a gradual decline, also saw a turnaround in the number of subscriptions last fiscal. (see graphic) Experts have attributed this brisk business for mobile network providers to the work-from-home and online education trends. "Many employees were asked to work from home and schools and colleges had taken up online tutoring. While the initial year saw many parents accommodating and sharing gadgets with their children, they eventually decided to ensure an independent connection for their child's education needs," said Achintya Mukherjee, a telephone consumer activist. Bhavana J, a businesswoman from Mulund, said her family has dedicated numbers for their two children to ensure their work didn't get affected during the lockdown. "We were initially sceptical of allowing our younger child a mobile phone, but the online education compelled us to do so as we couldn't share our phones due to our work schedules," she said. The increase in subscriptions is apparently the highest witnessed in the last seven years smashing the near 12% rise reported in 2016-17, the records show. The average connection count had stagnated for two years since 2017-18 and also showed a drop in 2019-20, but took a northward turn in the coming years, with the initial numbers of last fiscal reporting one of the best performances for the industry.
MUMBAI: The state home department has asked the excise commissioner to direct all stakeholders in the liquor industry to stop home delivery of liquor, a service which was encouraged during the lockdown to ensure social distancing. The home department's letter to the commissioner suggests restoration of pre-pandemic practices of sale, thus indirectly putting an end to home delivery of liquor. "Owing to the withdrawal of protocols for Covid-related restrictions, the decision to allow home delivery stands automatically withdrawn as it was meant for meeting social distancing norms during the lockdown period only... all stakeholders should be intimated about this and related actions be taken," said the letter. However, the excise department has said the "government will take a call...after considering all legal and social factors" indicating that a rethink on discontinuing the practice is likely. Retailers continue to keep home delivery on and will seek the excise commissioner's directives before implementing a decision. Though consolidated data on home deliveries is not available, lakhs of consumers have taken to ordering liquor at home since the pandemic began. Bhavesh Patel, owner of the World of Wines chain, said he has a home delivery database of 9,500 customers at one store alone in Nariman Point. "Thousands of delivery and IT personnel will lose their jobs if home delivery of liquor stops. Our shop, for instance, makes an average 150 daily despatches from Colaba to Andheri. Today's generation is tech savvy and they prefer to buy online rather than stand in queue at the shop. Online, one can select from a range of options around the clock." Patel pointed out that Alcobev (alcohol beverage) retail home delivery was the first non-essential business to be opened up during the pandemic owing to public demand and the need for revenue. Principal secretary for excise Valsa Nair Singh said home delivery was approved only during the lockdown to ensure social distancing. "However, the government will shortly take a call on the future need to have a policy for home delivery or not after considering all legal and social factors surrounding it," she said, while speaking to TOI. Meanwhile, excise commissioner Kantilal Umap said the prior position before the first lockdown will be maintained till the time the government takes its final call. Sumit Chawla of Association of Progressive Liquor Vendors said as of now the home department's letter is to the excise commissioner to stop home delivery. "We will seek commissioner's guidance on Thursday before taking any decision," he added.
MUMBAI: The state home department has asked the excise commissioner to direct all stakeholders in the liquor industry to stop home delivery of liquor it had permitted during Covid lockdown. However, the excise department officials said that the 'government will take a call on its future after considering all legal and social factors'. Meanwhile, retailers said their home delivery was on as they will seek commissioner's directives on Thursday over the development. The fact is that lakhs of consumers are now used to ordering liquor at home instead of queuing up at the shops which was actually the reason behind starting home delivery during the pandemic period. Excise officials said except for initial days they had no count of day-to-day home deliveries in Mumbai or Maharashtra so far. The home department letter suggests restoration of pre-pandemic liquor sale practices thus indirectly putting an end to the home delivery liquor. Owing to the withdrawal of state protocol for covid lockdown, the decision to allow home delivery stands automatically withdrawn as it was meant for meeting social distancing norms during lockdown period only, stated the home department letter to the commissioner. However, the excise department officials' version saying that the government will take a call over future need of home delivery only after considering legal and social factors around it, has indicated that the government might soon rethink on its total withdrawal. Principal secretary for excise Valsa Nair Singh said home delivery was approved only during the lockdown to ensure social distancing. "However, the government will shortly take a call on the future need to have a policy for home delivery or not after considering all legal and social factors surrounding it," she said while talking to TOI. Meanwhile, excise commissioner Kantilal Umap said the prior position before the first lockdown will be maintained till the time the government takes its final call. Sumit Chawla of the Association of progressive liquor vendors (APLV) said as of now it is the home department's letter to the excise commissioner to end the home delivery as per its original mandate. However, we will seek commissioner's guidance on Thursday before taking any decision on closure of home delivery, he added. Bhavesh Patel, owner of World of Wines chain of wine shops, has a home delivery database of 9,500 customers in just one store in Nariman Point. "Thousands of delivery and IT personnel will lose their jobs if home delivery of liquor stops. Our shop for instance makes an average 150 daily despatches from Colaba to Andheri. Today's generation is tech savvy and they prefer to buy online rather than stand in queue at the shop. Online, one can select from a range of options around the clock. On the one hand, wines are now allowed to be sold in supermarkets, and on the other, liquor stores cannot even cater to consumers by delivering at home for their ease and comfort." Parmar points out that Alcobev (alcohol) retail home delivery was the first non-essential business to be allowed to be opened to people during the pandemic owing to public demand and the state government's need for revenue. (With inputs from Bella Jaisinghani)
Pune: The Swargate police are investigating a complaint of Prashant Barawkar (48), the deputy general manager of the Maharashtra State Warehousing Corporation in Gultekdi, accusing a worker on contract of tampering with the organisation’s muster roll and inserting his name as a government employee in a bid to become its permanent staffer.Barawkar told TOI, “The worker was hired as an attendant in the corporation’s office. He took advantage of the Covid-induced lockdown to tamper with the muster roll of permanent employees of the corporation. He simultaneously signed on both the muster rolls – one for the permanent employees and the other for those on contract. But he received the salary of an employee on contract. No extra payment has been made to him.”The police said the worker was accused of tampering with the muster roll since March 2020. Senior inspector Ashok Indalkar of the Swargate police said, “A case of cheating and forgery has been registered in this regard. Further probe is on.”The Maharashtra State Warehousing Corporation (MSWC), a state government undertaking headquartered in Pune with 200 warehouses across Maharashtra, is tasked with scientific storage of food grains, fertilisers, industrial goods, cotton bales and cement, and facilitates pledging of warehouse receipts for availing credits from banks. It primarily provides economical services to farmers using its storage facilities.The FIR states, “MSWC hired the employee on contract through a private manpower supply company for housekeeping and other tasks. He was deputed to the corporation from February 2012 and working as an attendant. As he had been working with the corporation on contract for many years, he moved around the office freely. In 2020, lockdown was announce. Thus, the corporation issued a temporary identity card to him to attend the office.” The FIR states, he submitted the copies in the industrial court for personal gains. The court is still hearing the case.”
NAGPUR: Joseph George (49), who led several humanitarian aid campaigns during the cross-country migration amid lockdown two years ago, passed away due to cardiac arrest at a city hospital on Saturday. George played a crucial role in coordinating with 130 NGOs, distributing ration kits at Panjara Toll Plaza to passing migrants and taking care of stranded ones at shelter homes in the summer of 2020. A year later, he followed up with arrangements of oxygen cylinders, life-saving medicines and hospital beds during the deadly second Covid wave. He joined green activists in the fight against the proposed IMS at Ajni. George also extended support to animal lovers who led a march recently against the brutal killing of two puppies. “He didn’t know most of us but ended up as the coordinator in relief work on behalf of the Nagpur police during the lockdown,” said fellow activist Anasuya Kale Chhabrani. George, a resident of Kailash Nagar, is survived by father VJ George, wife Achamma, son Evan Joseph and sisters Janet Mary and Victoria Roy. “He had multiple cardiac arrests since yesterday. He had some co-morbidities which doctors feel worsened his condition,” said Evan. George proved to be a go-to man for the local administration in Covid management, once his efforts during the pandemic were recognised by citizens and officials. “Since childhood, I have seen him helping the poor and needy. He started feeding the hungry and also moved towards environmental issues,” his son added. Then additional police comissioner Nilesh Bharne, who was monitoring the NGOs, hailed George as a selfless man who was always ready to help others. “I don’t know if there is anyone who worked more than Joesph during the pandemic. He would start at 5am and go on till 2am,” said Bharne, who is now posted as deputy inspector general of police, Kumaon range. The 130 NGOs came under the banner of TogetherWeCan and George was named its president, said Kunal Maurya, who too works with many of these NGOs. Municipal commissioner Radhakrishnan B said his contribution during the Covid fight — managing call centres and tackling patients — was immense. “I remember those days; I was new to this place then and Joseph and other activists were highlighting issues relevant to the public. He was a dedicated person and passionate about many issues. It is a big loss to the city and his family,” the civic chief said.
Chandigarh: The Punjab government on Monday ordered immediate release of Rs 50 lakh compensation to the family of a bus driver, who had died of a heart attack on his way to bring back devotees from Hazur Sahib in Maharashtra in 2020.In April 2020, the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) had sent a fleet of 32 buses to bring back pilgrims stranded at Hazur Sahib because of the lockdown imposed in wake of Covid-19. A frontline corona warrior, Manjit Singh (38) was one of the drivers and died of a heart attack on the way near Indore. He hailed from Badbar village of Barnala district. The previous Congress government had given Rs 10 lakh to the family of the victim, prompting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to launch a state-wide protest to demand higher compensation. Led by Bhagwant Mann, AAP had accused the then Congress government of apathy towards the Covid warriors.
MUMBAI: Maharashtra’s GST revenue which has seen steady recovery in financial year 2021-22, has ended up almost 32% higher than 2020-21 when the country underwent a severe lockdown. This data also reflects economic recovery after the spread of the delta variant of Covid-19 during a second wave of infections resulted in lockdown-style restrictions. The data shows that GST collections for the 2021-22 financial year was Rs 2.2 lakh crore. In 2020-21, it was Rs 1.6 lakh crore. GST is a consumption-based tax and is an indicator of economic activity. Maharashtra’s GST collections are the highest in the country and it is the main revenue earner for the state government. The GST revenue earned in March 2022 was month-wise the third highest in the financial year. The highest earning was in April 2021 which was Rs 22,012 crore and then in January 2022 (Rs 20,704 crore). GST revenue reflects collections made in the previous month. As a result, the January revenue reflected collections before the worst of the Omicron wave. April revenues are typically high because they reflect collections in March which is the final month of the financial year. The March 2022 revenue of Rs 20,305 crore was 19% higher than the March 2021 revenue which was 17,038 crore.
MUMBAI: In a major relief to the liquor serving hotels and restaurants in the state, the Supreme Court (SC) has retained the Bombay High Court’s (HC) earlier interim order allowing excise licence holders to pay upto 50 per cent excise fees for covid fiscal 2021-22, pending the petition. The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association (AHAR) and seven other associations had approached the SC after the Bombay HC recently (on March 29, 2022) dismissed the petition and instead imposed Rs 9 lakh as cost on the associations. The SC has also granted a stay to the cost. However, in a notice SC has directed state excise to appear and file reply to the special leave petition by the hotel associations. The main prayer of the hoteliers' April 2021 petition was to offer them 50% waiver or proportionate reduction in the fees due to closures and restrictions imposed during second wave of covid. While stating that SC directive had given much hope and relief to the industry, HRAWI president Sherry Bhatia said “Back in May 2021, the Hon’ble Bombay HC in view of the pandemic and the State imposed lockdowns, had agreed to provide relief in the excise licence fee to the industry. It had allowed licence holders to pay 50 per cent of the fees pending the petition. However, we were surprised that when the matter was finally heard a couple of days ago, another Bench of the HC felt that the petition was worthless and instead imposed a cost on the Associations. So, we immediately approached the Hon’ble SC on which the hearing took place recently and we are extremely pleased to inform that the SC has issued a notice to the State to continue the previous interim order which was passed in favour of the industry." “We are conducting lawful business under the licences issued by the State Government. However, when the Government issues licences to hotels, restaurants and bars, to sell or serve alcohol then we are entitled to all legal rights. There continues to be prejudice against liquor business. However, liquor is only incidental to a hotel and restaurant business which is primarily about offering accommodation and serving food to guests,” Bhatia added. Maharashtra has around 10,500 hotels and 210,000 restaurants and over the last 24 months around 3,000 hotels and 60,000 restaurants have permanently shut down. Around 50 lakh employees, roughly 40 per cent directly engaged in the industry in the State lost their jobs. “Our Association has led from the front in matters of policy advocacy and liaising with policy makers. We were pained to have been saddled with the cost for having approached the Court, which we did in the interest of members who’ve been completely battered in the two successive waves of the pandemic. It is a matter of fact, that even the Central and the State Governments have acknowledged that hospitality is the most severely affected industry due to the pandemic induced lockdowns and restrictions. In the first wave, restaurants were under a complete lockdown for seven and a half months and thereafter, were operating under severe restrictions. Similarly, during the second wave, restaurants were fully shut for two months and twenty days and for the remaining days, were allowed to operate gradually up to 4 pm, 8 pm and 10 pm and so on with 50 per cent capacity limitation. It is unfair to make us pay licence fees for the period when we were made to shut down or restrict business operations,” said Pradeep Shetty, Sr. VP, HRAWI. During the lockdown period, Maharashtra’s hospitality industry has suffered a revenue loss of approximately Rs.5,000 Cr monthly. “Fifty per cent of the industry had already shut down and owners had no earnings for the last two years. Additionally, no financial institutions were and most still aren’t willing to lend to the industry. Owners of hotels, restaurants and bars are facing severe difficulties in raising capital. We feel, being in the legitimate business of serving alcohol along with food, we are also entitled to all rights including rights under Article 14 especially, when industry and licence holders are not treated fairly. For now, the SC interim order states that the Excise Licence fee of FY 2021-22 for members who have paid 50 per cent fees will be protected and won’t have to pay the additional 50 per cent demanded by the State Excise Department. We shall continue to exhaust our right to legal remedy before the SC to uphold the right of the Associations to advocate the interests of members in the larger interest of the industry,” stated Shetty.
In the wake of the fuel price rise and problems in maintaining a motorcycle due to the Covid-19 pandemic-induced restrictions, a man working as a lab assistant at a pharmacy college here in Maharashtra commutes on a horse to his workplace every day.The diesel price in Aurangabad is just a few paise short of Rs 100 per litre, while the petrol rate has crossed Rs 115 per litre.The petrol price on Sunday was hiked by 50 paise a litre and diesel by 55 paise, taking the total increase in rates since the resumption of daily price revision less than a week back to Rs 3.70-3.75 per litre. The rates have been increased across the country and vary from state to state depending upon the incidence of local taxation.Also Read | Petrol, diesel prices hiked again, fifth time in six days: Check rates in your cityTo tide over the situation, Shaikh Yusuf has put away his motorcycle and goes to his workplace, located 15 km from his home, riding a horse. He started the practice during the Covid-19-induced lockdown earlier."Following the lockdown, garages were shut for a long time and the service and maintenance of motorcycle was a problem, even the fuel prices have been going up. So, I decided to put away my vehicle and bought a Kathiawadi horse," Yusuf told reporters.The man said he now travels about 30 km every day (to and from work) on the horse, and even goes to buy groceries and family functions riding on the animal's back.Also Read | Give account of Rs 26 lakh crore excise duty earned on petrol, diesel: Congress to govt"Travelling on a horse is certainly cheaper than moving around on a motorcycle. Also, while commuting on the bike, we sometimes just roam around as it only requires a kick to start it. But, while using the horse for commuting, we think of its health and our health condition too," he said."Sometimes, children travelling in expensive cars wave at me when I am out on my horse, and I feel happy," Yusuf said.He also said the growing prices of various commodities can be controlled only when the fuel prices come down.Check out the latest videos from DH:
Mumbai: While the popular perception is that the public healthcare system received the bulk of Covid-related expenditure, a survey by the state itself has shown that almost 80% of Covid patients paid out of their pockets for at least some medicines.The special survey was done to study the pandemic’s impact on social and economic issues, and covered 800 sample units of 20 households each. In all, 66,748 people -- 26,867 from rural and 39,881 from urban areas - were studied in August-September 2021.The survey, released along with the economic survey on Thursday, said about 21.7% respondents in rural areas and 16.5% from urban areas received free treatment for Covid-19. A sizeable number -- 12.8% in rural areas and 15.9% in urban areas – spent over Rs 50,000 each on Covid treatment.“The point to note is that people were still spending on food and medicines,” said health economist Dr Ravi Duggal. “Apart from the out-of-pocket burden on Covid treatment, people had to spend more on food,” he said. Quoting the survey, he said 78% of the urban respondents said expenditure on eatables and beverages increased during the lockdown.The survey also found that majority of the respondents in rural areas got Covid after coming in contact with an infected person in a crowded place. In urban areas, work place infection accounted for 30% of the cases.Home quarantine was higher in urban (43%) areas than rural (38%). Only a quarter of the patients in both urban and rural areas sought out private healthcare, while the remaining chose government healthcare.Incidentally, majority of patients -- 45.5% households from rural areas and 37.8 % households from urban areas -- had physical consultations with their doctors.The survey also captured the pandemic’s social impact: About 85 % of students over five years and above attended online education during the lockdown. “About 54% students reported frequent discontinuity of the internet as the major difficulty during online classes,’’ said the survey. About 47.1% people from rural areas and 19.8 % from urban areas didn’t receive wages as work was temporarily closed during the lockdown.
MUMBAI: Maharashtra's economic survey released on Thursday has suggested that the cases involving cruelty by husbands and relatives against women have gone up in 2021 after a dip in the same in 2020. In 2020, the first lockdown year, 6,729 such cases involving cruelty against women by husbands and relatives were registered across the state as against 8430 in 2019. However in 2021, the second lockdown year, again around 8,024 cases were registered, equal to almost pre-covid level. The Maharashtra State Commission for women, a statutory body that regularly holds hearings / public hearings on complaints filed by women victims, has provided free legal aid and counselling services to the victims. An innovative initiative called ‘Women Commission at your doorstep’ was implemented extensively by organising division wise and district wise public hearings, with the primary objective to give victim women a platform to resolve their issues and interact unhesitantly, the report said.. The Commission also organised workshops, training programmes and seminars on women related issues viz. self defence programmes, awareness about gender equality, legal literacy, cybercrime, implementation of Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Sexual harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, prohibition & redressal) Act, 2013, rehabilitation of acid attack victims, preparation of guidelines for crèche, etc. During 2020-21, expenditure of Rs 3.63 crore was incurred on these activities and during 2021-22 upto January, expenditure of Rs 3.92 crore was incurred on similar programmes, revealed the survey.
Mumbai: The state legislature joint select committee has recommended setting up of special police teams for every district or at commissionerates to investigate crimes against women as specified under Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020, also known as Shakti law. The team will be headed by an officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police and will comprise at least one woman constable and women personnel shall be included, states the report submitted to the assembly on Monday by state home minister Dilip Walse-Patil.The bill was introduced in the assembly in December 2020 and referred to the committee both Houses for consideration. The committee held four meetings and finalised the report on March 3. It provides for capital punishment, life sentence, hefty fines and speedy trial for perpetrators of crime against women and children. It specifies a deadline of 30 days for completion of the probe from the day a complaint is lodged and puts the onus on social media platforms and Internet provider companies to share data for police investigations.The report states the investigation will be handed over to the special team by the police commissioner/superintendent of police after ascertaining the seriousness and sensitivity of the offence. The committee recommended that a single prosecutor handle all cases in a district was not feasible and hence has suggested that the bill allow for one or more special public prosecutors. tnn
MUMBAI: For the first time since the March 2020 lockdown, the BMC has permitted all educational institutions from pre-primary to Class 12 to go fully offline from March 2. Only students with comorbidities and chronic diseases will need parental consent to attend physical schools and colleges. The decision came after cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray met state and civic officers on Friday to decide on making educational institutions go 100% offline. Currently, schools function in the hybrid mode. A decision on schools across the state is awaited, as is a decision on 100% offline mode for colleges and universities. Thackeray tweeted: “Schools in Mumbai can resume in March with pre-Covid timings, attendance, extra-curricular activities, school buses, apart from certain essential Covid appropriate norms as cases steadily decline in Mumbai.” According to BMC’s fresh SOP, masks will be mandatory in the class, but not on playgrounds or during school activities. Masks are must in class, but not on playgroundsThe BMC on Friday issued a fresh standard operating procedure (SOP) for students, including resumption of school playgrounds and extra-curricular activities. Masks will be mandatory in the class but not on playgrounds or during school activities, the SOP stated. Students will continue to be checked for temperature. Recess and lunch breaks have been allowed. Schools for disabled children too have been allowed 100% offline attendance. Ajit Kumbhar, deputy municipal commissioner (education), confirmed city schools have been allowed to go fully offline. This is the first time since the March 2020 lockdown that schools will function 100% in the physical mode. From October, schools were functioning both offline and online. In January, schools had to resume 100% online education due to the rise in Omicron cases. Schools were once again back to the hybrid mode from January 24. With infections falling, schools had been demanding 100% offline attendance. With SSC exams beginning on March 15, though, schools will not be able to function full time. This year, all schools are doubling up as exam centres. “Secondary students will get only a few hours in school as they have to leave before SSC students arrive by 9.30am-10am. Primary students may have to continue online on days when there are papers from 3pm-6.30pm,” said the principal of a Kurla school. The paediatric Covid task force had on Wednesday communicated to the state and the BMC that it is safe to resume full-time physical schools. Sources said across the state, district and civic officials will have to take a decision on going fully offline depending on the Covid situation. Some schools have already done away with the hybrid mode. “All students have been attending physical classes since the past few weeks. We have given them recess too and students are careful with masks and social distancing,” said the principal of a Powai school. The hybrid mode did not work for students logging into virtual classrooms. “We have been holding only online and offline classes twice a week. This way all students are benefiting,” said a teacher of a Worli school. Lack of transport facilities has been a prime reason for parents not sending children to school. School bus operators have hiked fares by around 30% and have not been receiving a good response from parents. Parents of younger children want to go offline only in the next academic year. “Offline should start next year as only a few days of schooling are left,” said the parent of a Class 3 student. Thackeray tweeted that schools will be encouraged to organise vaccination camps for students aged 15 plus.
A 'State of Pet Homelessness Index' report by Mars Petcare India, published in November 2021, showed that in India, almost 50 per cent of current and previous owners admitted they had abandoned a pet in the past compared to 28 per cent on a global level. And no one knows it better than Anusha Srinivasan Iyer, a public relations professional who runs the Pawsitive Farm Sanctuary in Andheri, Mumbai. "So many ill-treated animals came to us during the pandemic, some abandoned, some injured, some maimed, some flung out of a running car, some left in a car trunk to die, expectant mothers, puppy-mill rejects, or thrown in garbage bags. Each with a story of inhumanity by humans," she said. After the lockdown announcement, the first thing Iyer's NGO did was to stock up on dog and cat food. With people losing work or income, many could not afford pet food and vet care bills. Iyer is now aiming to build a farm sanctuary. Along with her mother and sons, Iyer takes care of more than 115 rescue cats and dogs. The pandemic has been particularly hard on domesticated animals. Several lost their homes when their cash-strapped owners couldn't take care of them anymore; many lost their caregiver to Covid, and some were abandoned after the lockdown when their owners no longer needed them as emotional crutches. Stray animals faced hunger owing to movement restrictions. People For Animals is one of India's largest animal welfare organisations that has helped thousands of people look after animals by getting them feeder passes. Founded in 1992 by Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and an animal rights activist, People For Animals has over 100 regional units located around India.Not just with food and money, Gandhi has also helped several abandoned animals get shelter homes. "In my house, I have four abandoned animals--three from Delhi and one from Patna," she said. "The animals die on the road of starvation or are attacked by other street animals and are defenceless as they do not know how to protect themselves. Many in shelters die of heartbreak."Apart from monetary crises and movement issues, a common reason for rising pet abandonment during the pandemic was the irrational fear that the animals would transmit the coronavirus through their fur. "We immediately took to the national media to contradict the fake assertions that dogs or cats could spread Covid-19 to humans. We got the top doctors of the country to give the correct statements."Abandonment of animals is not just punishable by law under 429 IPC and Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. A person who abandons their pet can go to jail for three years.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Home and Information Technology Satej Patil attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for their criticism of Congress for helping the migrant labourers travel back after the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced abruptly. Patil termed it as the shamelessness of the central government and said Congress stood by the labourers during the challenging times to help them reach their homes.The shamelessness of Central govt knows no bounds! When lakhs of labours were walking on the road to reach back to their villages, it was Maharashtra Congress that stood by them and did whatever we could to ease their pain.— Satej (Bunty) D. Patil (@satejp) February 7, 2022“The shamelessness of Central govt knows no bounds! When lakhs of labourers were walking on the road to reach back to their villages, it was Maharashtra Congress that stood by them and did whatever we could to ease their pain,” tweeted Patil. Also Read | Mumbai to be unlocked by end of month, says Mayor Kishori Pednekar Patil also said that the Congress in Maharashtra helped thousands of labourers and their distressed family members including hundreds of pregnant women to make them reach their homes. “Could PM Modi not see pregnant women walking hundreds of kilometres? BJP govt stood in silence and watched hundreds of labourers die in the scorching heat. Proud of all the members of INC who performed their duties for fellow Indians during the time of crisis,” another tweet by the Minister reads.Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech in Lok Sabha on Monday attacked Congress and said that Maharashtra Congress distributed free tickets to migrants. “When the country was following strict lockdown, Congress leaders stood at stations in Mumbai and distributed free train tickets and encouraged migrants to leave Mumbai. It led to the surge in cases in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” Modi had said.Watch the latest DH Videos here:
The Congress currently shares power with the Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra. (File)Mumbai: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the opposition of scaring migrant workers into fleeing to their native states from Mumbai during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Tuesday hit back claiming the PM's fixation with the 'Namaste Trump' event was responsible for the coronavirus spread in the country.In February 2020, the then US President Donald Trump had visited India and also addressed a public gathering at a stadium in Ahmedabad as part of the 'Namaste Trump' event.PM Modi said in the Lok Sabha on Monday that the Congress "crossed all limits" during the COVID-19 pandemic, and accused the party of instigating and scaring innocent labourers into fleeing to their native states from Mumbai.Mr Malik, who is also the NCP's chief spokesperson, on Tuesday said, “When the Maharashtra government was asking for a ban on international flights, your (PM Modi's) own health minister (Dr Harsh Vardhan at that time) was stressing that the coronavirus infection will not spread." "Modi, in his fixation with the 'Namaste Trump' event, invited people from across the globe to India and it spread the coronavirus infection in all parts of the country,” he claimed.“Prime Minister Modi is responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in the country,” Mr Malik alleged.The Congress currently shares power with the Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra.“You (Modi) said that we paid for the tickets of migrants. It is true, but you organised the special trains and we paid for the tickets. We bore the cost of train tickets because you wanted to collect money from the migrant labourers and workers,” Mr Malik claimed.After the nationwide lockdown in 2020, the Indian Railways ran Shramik Special trains for the migrant workers.“When the migrant workers were walking to their native places, the Uttar Pradesh government had deployed buses for the first time to help the workers reach home. The Bihar government had also done the same. When the lockdown was imposed, you asked people to clang thalis,” the NCP leader pointed out.He further said that PM Modi had announced the lockdown "without any consideration or thinking about consequences of the decision. "Crores of people suffered because of such a decision,” he said.“The Maharashtra government provided food, water and even paid for their (migrant workers) tickets. You did not provide the train service free of cost,” Mr Malik said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com“We even operated special bus services for the migrant workers so that they could reach their native places. We were the ones who stood by the migrant workers,” the minister said.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Priyanka Gandhi asked if PM wanted poor to be left helpless when they were returning to their homes.Panaji (Goa): Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's accusations that Congress gave free train tickets to migrants to leave Maharashtra which lead to the spread of Covid in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and asked if PM Modi wanted the poor to be left helpless when they were returning to their homes on foot.Speaking to media persons on Panaji, the Congress leader said, "People whom he had deserted, who had no way of returning to their homes, who were coming back on foot - did he want that nobody should help them? What did Modi ji want? What does he want?"What about the big rallies he did?" she remarked while alleging that PM Modi conducted rallies during Covid.Earlier on Monday, while replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister had said that Congress gave free train tickets to migrant workers to leave Mumbai which lead to the spread of COVID in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand."Congress crossed all limits during the first wave of COVID. During the first wave, when the country was in lockdown and when the WHO was advising everyone to stay wherever they are, Congress went to the Mumbai railway station to scare innocent people. They pushed labourers to go back to their states. As a result, COVID spread rapidly in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand," said PM Modi, calling it "paap" (sin)."You pushed labourers into crisis. In Delhi, the government went around slums in jeeps and announced on mics that whoever wants to go home, buses have been arranged. Infections then shot up in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, where the coronavirus had not even spread that much. What kind of politics is this? How long will these politics continue? The entire country is shocked by the behaviour of the Congress," he added."Now the Congress has made up its mind not to come to power for the next 100 years."In a veiled attack on Congress, the Prime Minister said the party was banking on its "divide and rule" policy and had become the leader of "tukde tukde gang".PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"Congress policy is 'divide and rule'. Congress has become the leader of the 'tukde tukde' gang. Congress won several elections due to their 'Garibi Hatao' slogan but failed to do that. Then the poor of this country voted them out. The opposition has raised the issue of inflation here, it would have been better if they have raised that matter while their government was in power. In the pandemic also our government tried to tackle inflation."(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Arvind Kejriwal accused PM Modi of playing politics on the "sufferings of the people"Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the leaders of the ruling Congress and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra today vociferously protested against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comment that they had contributed to the spread of Covid by enabling the migrant labourers to go home after lockdown was declared in 2020.Mr Kejriwal declared that the Prime Minister's statement was "blatant lies" and accused him of playing politics on the "sufferings of the people"."The country hopes that the Prime Minister will be sensitive to those who have suffered the pain of the Corona period, those who have lost their loved ones," his tweet in Hindi read.प्रधानमंत्री जी का ये बयान सरासर झूठ है। देश उम्मीद करता है कि जिन लोगों ने कोरोना काल की पीड़ा को सहा, जिन लोगों ने अपनों को खोया, प्रधानमंत्री जी उनके प्रति संवेदनशील होंगे। लोगों की पीड़ा पर राजनीति करना प्रधानमंत्री जी को शोभा नहीं देता। pic.twitter.com/Dd4NsRNGCY— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 7, 2022In his reply to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to President's speech, PM Modi had accused the opposition of being responsible for the countrywide spread of Covid in the initial phase of the pandemic.Pointing at the opposition-ruled governments in Maharashtra and Delhi, he said: "The Congress crossed the limit... During the first wave... the Congress at the Mumbai railway station gave tickets to labourers to go and spread coronavirus... In Delhi, the government used mics on jeeps in slums to go home, arranged buses".This, he said, led to a surge of the virus in Uttar Pradesh and other states "where corona didn't have this intensity".Maharashtra Revenue Minister and senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat termed the Prime Minister's remarks "unfortunate"."The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi has done a lot of work for the labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh during lockdown. We took care of them and when they wanted to go home, we got their tickets… The responsibility that the central government should have taken, we shouldered it," he said.Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap questioned how the virus reached the country."Rahul Gandhi had already said that international flights should be stopped so that cases do not increase, but it was not done," he said. He also pointed to the government's role in the matter."We sent people by 106 trains. When the government said they are waiving 75 per cent of the fare, we did the work of paying the remaining 25 per cent and arranged for their food and drink," he added.Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi asserted that they will "make this mistake 100 times over .. for humanity".PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com4 hours before lockdown announced, trains stopped, interstate travel stopped. Migrants- majorly daily wage labourers were left stranded. If looking after them - with food and shelter was wrong in the eyes of the PM, then will make this mistake 100 times over .. for humanity.— Priyanka Chaturvedi???????? (@priyankac19) February 7, 2022The migrant crisis was one of the key issues during the outbreak of the pandemic which the opposition has blamed on the government.The imposition of the lockdown without any advance warning had led to the suffering of millions, the opposition said, as visuals of labourers footing it to their homes from distant corners, left the country shaken.Headlines on their plight, including lack of food and water and crackdown by the police at state borders, stunned the world.
MUMBAI: CM Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday approved the proposal to re-open school campuses for all classes from January 24, paving the way for the return of pre-primary students to school for the first time since the March 2020 lockdown and resumption of offline teaching for classes 1-12. BMC chief I S Chahal allowed reopening of all classes in the city from Monday. The school education department proposal had left the final decision to local area bodies. Amid surging cases, physical classes in schools, except for Std 10 and 12, and colleges were shut early this month till February 15. The decision on offline classes came on a day the city’s Covid count dropped to 5,708, the lowest this year, from 6,032 on Wednesday. Cases have been dipping in the city this week after a sudden climb since December. However, the state’s cases rose 5% to 46,197 from 43,697 on Wednesday. Deaths in the state fell to 37, with Mumbai logging 12 for the second day.
MUMBAI: Covid displaced usual chart-toppers heart attack and cancer to become the leading cause of death in the city in 2020. Out of 1.1 lakh total deaths recorded in the first year of the pandemic, 11,105 (10%) were Covid fatalities, 8,576 (7.6%) were cancer deaths and 5,633 (5%) were heart attacks, according to recent data accessed through RTI. While deaths under most of the dozen heads separately mentioned dropped, three saw higher fatalities compared to previous years—kidney failure, malaria and typhoid. Coronary heart diseases and cancer have for decades remained at the top of the city’s death charts. ‘Heart attack deaths fall 35%, cancer 15% from 2018 to 2020’RTI data, based on death certificates issued by the BMC, show a 35% drop in heart attacks in 2020 in the city compared to 2018 (8,601) and nearly 4% compared to 2019 (5,849). Cancer deaths too dropped by 14%-15% in 2020 (8,576) compared to two pre-pandemic years of 2018 (10,073) and 2019 (9,958). Dr Avinash Supe, a member of the Covid death audit committee, said a drop in deaths due to communicable diseases and trauma was expected, but heart attack and cancer deaths simply cannot disappear; factors such as certification, deaths at home need to be looked into closely. Hospitals had seen a decline in cardiac events in the first few months of the pandemic because of a combination of factors and partly due to the fear of coming to hospitals, said cardiologist Dr Brian Pinto. The numbers normalised as everything started to open. The data showed deaths in Mumbai were up 22.7% in 2020 over the earlier year, and a vast majority of them is attributed—as in the earlier years—to ‘Other Diseases’. That head could include deaths due to septicaemia, bacterial diseases, intestinal infection, blood disorders, encephalitis, and poisoning, among others Of the additional 20,719 fatalities in 2020, Covid accounted for 11,105 deaths. Murad Banaji, a mathematician at the University of Middlesex, who has closely followed Mumbai’s graph, told TOI many of them were likely Covid deaths, probably among people who were never tested, especially in the early days. “A high fraction of these deaths probably occurred in the slums,” he said. The RTI data obtained by Chetan Kothari revealed that fatalities due to head injury saw a remarkable fall to 760 in 2020, down by 24% from 1,000 deaths of 2019. Burn injuries were under 100 in 2020, probably a first in decades. The lockdown made a dent in deaths due to accidents, a civic official said. Among communicable diseases, TB deaths declined by almost a quarter—2020 saw 3,719 deaths as opposed to 4,940 in 2018 and 4,899 in 2019. Dr Shripad Banavali, director, academics, at the Tata Memorial Hospital said cancer accounted for about 15% deaths in the pre-pandemic times which fell to 11.4% in the first pandemic year. “Many patients couldn’t be investigated and some missed treatment. Mumbai gets patients from outside, who are issued deaths certificates here if they pass away. Due to the lockdown many couldn’t come, which is underlined by a drop in registrations in the hospital,” he said. The 8% rise in kidney failure deaths in 2020 has surprised Dr Shrirang Bichu, head of nephrology at Bombay Hospital.“Kidney failure is rarely the cause of death. It’s often heart attacks or infections that kill kidney failure patients,” he said. Given that many died at home in the first wave, it is likely doctors certified their pre-existing condition.
MUMBAI: A Bhandup homemaker, who had stepped out of her house after almost a year, was killed in an accident on Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road in Powai on Sunday after a BMC dumper truck hit the scooter she was riding pillion with her son. He escaped with minor injuries. Powai police arrested the dumper driver, Allauddin Sallauddin Shaikh (22) and booked him under the Indian Penal Code and Motor Vehicles Act. Police said the deceased, Unnati Shirsat (47) had refused to leave her Bhandup rented flat owing to the pandemic-induced lockdown and ill-health. “Her son, Akshay (25), took her to Aarey Colony to cheer her up,” said a cop. Separated from her husband since five years, Unnati was living with her son and daughter.
MUMBAI: Despite restricted access to beaches during the pandemic-induced lockdown year of 2020, deaths by drowning shot up by 13% in Maharashtra as compared to 2019. Maharashtra had the second highest number of drowning-related fatalities in the country (5,136) after Madhya Pradesh (5,779), showed data with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2020. At least 88% of all drowning-related fatalities in Maharashtra have been attributed to fall in water bodies. “We have appointed trained lifeguards with gear on six Mumbai’s beaches, which has considerably reduced the number of drownings at these locations,” said Hemant Parab, chief fire officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade. Lifeguards at Juhu, Gorai, Aksa, Girgaum, Dadar and Versova beaches were involved in 14 rescue operations in the lockdown year. But rocky seafronts, such as Bandra Bandstand, where lifeguards can’t be deployed remain a challenge. In June 2020, two youngsters, Mohsin Shah and Ashraf Chaudhary, drowned at Malad’s Marve beach, which does not have lifeguards. The duo had gone to the beach with a group of friends. “At times, mishaps occur because of flouting of guidelines. There have been instances when visitors have jumped over barricades to access a beach or sneaked in through access points,” said corporator Renu Hansraj, whose civic ward includes Juhu beach. Drowning victims at beaches are typically students or young adults, in the 13-29 age group, said officials. “Training vendors who operate around a waterfront on basic life-saving techniques could work at spots where there are no lifeguards. In 2012, we had a training session for vendors at Tungareshwar who were taught how to rescue a person stranded in the water and clear his airway. CPR need not be performed in all situations,” said Dr Rita Savla, who runs a non-profit on disaster awareness. As many as 16 lives were lost in separate instances of boat capsizing in the state, NCRB data showed. Three of these were warehouse employees who had hired a boat to travel unnoticed from Madh to Versova in April 2020, after their employer failed to offer them a place to stay overnight. “Boat capsizing is typically the result of negligence. The worthiness of the vessel goes unchecked. Boat owners may take in more passengers without weighing the risk of the vessel tipping over,” said former fire chief P D Karguppikar. In Mumbai, overflowing nullahs and quarries in monsoon often become death traps for residents of nearby slum colonies. Some of the drowning deaths in the state are also instances of suicide. (With inputs by Richa Pinto)
MUMBAI: Since March 2020 after the pandemic outbreak and subsequent lockdown, police stations across the state have collected fines amounting to Rs 206.97 crore. The money was collected as penalty from those who violated lockdown rules, including motorists who disregarded restrictions. Among those who paid up were people who did not follow Covid-19 rules (like wearing a mask, kept hotels/eateries open beyond stipulated time and unlawful assembly). Also, police across the state have caught 10,056 people in all for violating quarantine measures. Also, 63,102 people were arrested under bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Epidemic Act, Disaster Management Act, and Maharashtra Covid-19 regulation, 2020. A total of 3.77 lakh cases have been registered in the state while 1.56 lakh vehicles were impounded. Also, 422 policemen were assaulted in the state and 124 personnel injured in this period, police said. A senior IPS officer said that a major chunk of the fines was collected from people from Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai — the biggest contributors to these statistics since inter-district and regular movement of people in these cities is high. A lot of people continued violating restrictions and the rules that are regularly updated and re-imposed by the government.
PUNE: Over two lakh eligible beneficiaries opted for the Covid vaccines’ booster shot in the state within four days of the launch of the precaution dose programme. The highest response was in Mumbai. Over 57,000 beneficiaries, including healthcare and frontline workers, and senior citizens (above 60 years age), took the precaution dose in the state capital. Pune (around 27,000 doses) and Thane (around 21,000 doses) followed Mumbai. The state immunisation officer, Sachin Desai, said no AEFI (adverse event following immunisation) case had been registered across Maharashtra pertaining to the precaution dose so far. Experts claimed that the nine-month rider for the precaution dose after the second shot of Covid vaccine was affecting the response to the new programme. Sachin Patil, chairman, IMA’s Hospital Board of India, Pune chapter, said it had resulted in less footfall in the drive. Maharashtra government has been struggling to increase its speed of vaccination and has taken several steps to bring it on par with the national average but many districts still continue to be on the bottom of the ladder.
Fresh Covid-19 cases in India breached the 1-lakh mark on Friday for the first time since June with over 1.17 lakh new infections, in a worrisome surge led by the more transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.The Union Health Ministry is coordinating with health authorities to control the spike of Omicron cases which crossed 3,000 across India on Friday and pulled up nine states for low testing. As per the health ministry, the Omicron infection has spread to 27 states and UTs.Maharashtra and Delhi appear to be the worst-impacted states in this new wave as all-too-familiar curbs like weekend lockdowns and night curfews came back into force in states. Here is a look at the numbers from the worst-affected states.Also Read | India may see 10 lakh Covid cases a day by Jan-end: IISc-ISI modelMaharashtraIn a massive spike, Maharashtra logged 36,265 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, 36 per cent more than the previous day with Mumbai alone registering 20,181 infections, a fresh record for the city, while 13 more patients succumbed to the disease. The state has the most number of Omicron infections at 867 on Friday.To fight off this surge, the state has put restrictions on public gatherings, with Section 144 imposed in Mumbai till January 15.DelhiThe national capital reported 15,097 fresh Covid cases, the highest single-day rise since May 8, and six deaths, while the positivity rate mounted to 15.34 per cent.Also Read | Karnataka mulling issuing green passes for Covid-19 vaccinated people This rise is the highest since May 8, 2021, when 17,364 cases were reported with a positivity rate of 23.34 per cent. As many as 332 deaths were also recorded on that day. On Wednesday and Tuesday, 10,665 and 5,481 cases were recorded with a positivity rate of 11.88 per cent and 8.37 per cent, respectively, according to official figures.The national capital has 465 Omicron cases of which 57 have recovered.Health Minister Satyendar Jain said Delhi is expected to add 17,000 cases to its coronavirus infection tally with a positivity rate of around 17 per cent on Friday. The minister added that no lockdown is necessary for the capital yet, even as weekend lockdowns and night curfews during weekdays have been imposed. West BengalIn West Bengal, 15,421 people tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, taking the state’s tally to 16,93,744. This was a spike of 1,399 over the previous day.Also Read | Gujarat records over 5,000 Covid cases; schools shut for classes 1 to 9 The state's coronavirus death toll rose to 19,846 as 19 more patients succumbed to the infection. The state had recorded 20 Omicron cases on Thursday.Kolkata registered the highest number of new cases at 6,569, followed by 2,560 in neighbouring North 24 Parganas district and 1,248 in Howrah. Seven fatalities were recorded in North 24 Parganas and three in Kolkata, it said.The Mamata Banerjee government put in strict curbs for the state earlier this week, with schools and colleges shut and public places like cinemas and hotels operating at 50 per cent capacity.Tamil NaduTamil Nadu saw a new peak in Covid-19 cases on Thursday as 6,983 people tested positive, pushing the total caseload to 27,67,432 with 11 more fatalities taking the toll to 36,825. Eight districts, including the state capital, accounted for the majority of new infections which have been on an upward trend over the last few days. The sharpest increase in fresh infections was reported in Chennai with 3,759 cases. Chennai had reported 2,481 new cases on Wednesday. The state has recorded 121 Omicron cases so far.Also Read | Covid: Odisha closes colleges, varsities from Jan 10Chief Minister M K Stalin Thursday imposed a night curfew in the state and announced a complete lockdown on Sunday to stop the surge. KarnatakaWith 5,031 daily cases, Karnataka continued to witness a surge in numbers on Thursday, but it reported only one death, taking the count to 30,22,603 and the fatalities toll to 38,358. The state logged 4,246 on Wednesday. Of the new cases, 4,324 were from Bengaluru Urban that saw 172 being discharged. The total number of active cases is now 22,173. Karnataka on Friday reported 107 new cases of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus taking the total count to 333 in the state, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said.The state had imposed a night curfew on December 28 to control Omicron surge during the New Year celebrations but extended it for two weeks in January in the wake of new rise Covid-19 cases. There is also a weekend lockdown in the state from January 7. KeralaKerala logged 4,649 fresh cases and 221 deaths on Thursday which raised the caseload to 52,58,939 and the fatalities to 49,116. Of the deaths, 17 were recorded over the last few days and 204 were designated as Covid-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court.Kerala recorded 50 new Omicron cases taking the total to 284 on Friday. GujaratGujarat recorded 4,213 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, taking its tally to 8,44,856, while one patient succumbed to the infection in the state. The Covid toll rose to 10,127 with one more death reported during the day (in Tapi district). As many as 1,835 new infections emerged in Ahmedabad city alone, followed by 1,105 in Surat city, 183 in Rajkot city and 112 in Anand district.The state, which is also under a night curfew, has 204 Omicron cases so far.JharkhandJharkhand added 3,704 fresh Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up from 3,553 infections reported the previous day pushing the caseload in the disease to 3,65,222. Five districts of the state accounted for a majority of the new cases.Ranchi reported 1,309 fresh infections as against 1,316 on Wednesday.The cumulative toll stood at 5,153 with four deaths reported during the last 24 hours. No deaths were reported on Wednesday.Uttar PradeshUttar Pradesh recorded 3,121 fresh Covid-19 cases and one death due to the infection on Thursday.The new fatality, reported from Meerut, raised the death toll from the pandemic to 22,917 in the state. Among new cases, a maximum of 600 were reported from Gautam Buddha Nagar, 408 from Lucknow, 401 from Meerut and 382 from Ghaziabad, a health department release said.Omicron tally in Uttar Pradesh is 31.The rising cases prompted the state to shut all schools up to Class 10. The Yogi Adityanath government also extended the night curfew by two hours on Tuesday and is now imposed from 10 pm to 6 am.(With agency inputs)Watch the latest DH Videos here:
Bengaluru/Belagavi: Stating that it is "almost certain" that the third wave of Covid-19 is "inescapable", the Karnataka government on Sunday said it was looking at harsher curbs in the coming days and ramping up infrastructure to face medical exigencies in the state.After a meeting with CM Basavaraj Bommai earlier in the day, revenue minister R Ashoka said the state government will accept and implement recommendations of the Covid-19 technical advisory committee (TAC) in full.The night curfew that is in force is set to end on Jan 7. The high-powered committee on Covid-19 will meet on January 4 or 5 to discuss the need for more restrictions in the state."We'll soon impose more stringent restrictions across the state and urge people to cooperate with the government. Otherwise, we may have to force a lockdown on the state," said Ashoka. He cited the example of Maharashtra, where the situation is "worsening", and said the neighbouring state may announce a lockdown soon. "We want to avoid a similar situation by assessing the state's requirement in the coming days," he said.Bommai, in Belagavi, said the government was waging a two-pronged fight – augmenting the health system and imposing tough restrictions – against the virus."We're ensuring there are enough beds, ICU beds and adequate oxygen supply to save lives. I've directed the health department to increase the number of ICU beds and accelerate the vaccination drive. I've asked pharmaceutical companies to keep the production and supply intact," said the CM.Bommai said those coming into the state through Belagavi and Vijayapura districts will have to carry negative RT-PCR report and vaccination certificate and asked district administration to strengthen surveillance at the border checkposts."These checks will no doubt cause inconvenience for a few passengers, but we have to take this step to protect the people of Karnataka," said the CM.
Since lockdown ended last year, venues, both big and small, had demonstrated their resilience by working hard to mitigate risks and safely bring audiences back to live performances. The festival and live events calendar was filling up for the new year, that was until Omicron threw a wrench in their comeback plans. In a grim reminder of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the rise of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has pulled the plug once more on live shows across the city forcing venues and organisers to cancel, postpone or scale down events. “It’s a bummer because we had started hosting physical events from December. Our social distancing and sanitisation protocol were well worked out and we had quite a few collaborative events lined up in the first quarter of 2022 that we’ve had to reschedule. But we’ve been down this road twice already. Safety is most important,” said Asad Laljee, curator, Royal Opera House. To ensure safety of the artistes, staff and audiences, the NCPA Theatres have postponed all the performances scheduled up to January 31. “We will ensure there is no loss to the ticket-holders and request people to retain their tickets if already bought for the refund,” stated the NCPA management. Among the big-ticket events slammed by the new variant is the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival scheduled on February 5. “I took this decision as soon as news about Omicron emerged. There’s a lot of hard work and planning that goes into it, to have artistes performing to not more than 25 people did not make sense. Also, we might head for a lockdown any time. Since people are anyway exhausted of digital viewings and Kala Ghoda is an outdoor people’s festival, we thought it best to wait it out and put our energy into hosting it the traditional way whenever it looks like it’s a good time to do so,” said Brinda Miller, Kala Ghoda festival director. Some of the venues that were limping back to action are hard hit by the new wave of limitations this new variant has unleashed. “All of us, including artistes and our patrons, were happy and hopeful about performances resuming,” rued Sameer Sawant, manager of the Shanmukhananda Hall in Sion that is set to lose around 70 programmes in the wake of the new restrictions. “For every 200 patrons, I will need permission from the assistant municipal commissioner of the local ward and he is insisting that the distance between two seats should be 6ft. That means, a separation of three seats between two seats. At this rate, the capacity of the auditorium which is 2,800 can be reduced to around 500. This is not viable for any patron,” said V Shankar, president, Shri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha. Last week, the Maharashtra government had capped the attendance at gatherings in open and closed spaces at 50, following a surge in cases across the state. Citing the cost of maintaining the auditorium — acoustics, lighting, air-conditioning, cooling systems — Shankar said they have been getting “virtually zero revenue” for the last two years. Mumbai Central resident Yunus Siddiqui had booked a prominent club for his son’s wedding on January 9, but in view of the new BMC restrictions, he has canceled the club booking and is planning to hold a small reception in his building lobby. “Since invitations had already been sent and all arrangements made, we have not canceled the reception, but changed the venue and reduced the number of guests,” said Siddiqui. Islam Gymkhana at Marine Lines too has asked patrons to reduce the number of guests. “If someone had booked the venue for a wedding reception with 3,000 guests, we have asked them to reduce the number to 300. Many meetings and events have been postponed in view of the surge in cases,” said Yusuf Abrahni, president of Islam Gymkhana. But even amid renewed health concerns and industry-wide uncertainty, venues and eve-nt organizers have more digital tools and strategies at their disposal than they did two years ago, which is enabling th-em to continue engaging attendees virtually. “Today, thankfu-lly we know how to adjust and level set. Our virtual events wi-ll continue to fill the void until things get better,” said Lalljee. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) too, is taking the online route with digital events. “It has been projected by experts that January will be particularly challenging for everyone...Given the circumstances... CSMVS will be holding the museum centenary commemoration event scheduled for January 10, online. The felicitation of scholars and patrons will be organized later when the situation improves,” said Sabyasachi Mukherjee of CSMVS . (With inputs by Mohammed Wajihuddin)
Maharashtra has over 91,000 active COVID-19 cases as of January 6 morning (File)Mumbai: Maharashtra will not announce a Covid lockdown as of now, the state's Health Department said Thursday morning, according to news agency ANI.A lockdown, or a lockdown-like set of restrictions, will be only be considered after the demand for medical oxygen crosses 800 metric tonnes per day, or more than 40 per cent of hospital beds for Covid patients are occupied, the department said.The Health Department also said it expected the current surge in Covid cases to peak by mid-February and subside by mid-March, with Additional Chief Secretary Health Dr Pradeep Vyas predicting an active caseload of around two lakhs by the third week of this month.Last week Vijay Wadettiwar, the minister for Disaster Management, told reporters the final decision would be taken by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, but said a lockdown was "approaching".Days earlier Chief Minister Thackeray reminded people to avoid mass gatherings and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing face masks in public places.Maharashtra on Wednesday night reported a deeply worrying 26,538 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours - a 44 per cent increase over the previous day, and state capital Mumbai recorded 15,166 cases- the most in a single-day since the pandemic began in December 2019.Growing concern over rapidly escalating third wave of infections - driven in part by the more transmissible Omicron variant, of which Maharashtra has 797 - has been added to after hundreds of doctors in some of Mumbai's biggest hospitals reported positive for the virus over the past few days.Over 150 doctors in the city's King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital have contracted the virus, as have another 80 at the Sion Hospital and nearly as many at others. Across Maharashtra over 260 have tested positive so far, the Association of Resident Doctors has said.60 employees of the city's public transportation service also tested positive, ANI said.Cases in the third wave seem to be less severe than the third, some doctors have told NDTV, but they have also warned that the sheer number of people testing positive (and requiring admission if they have the Omicron strain) threatens to overwhelm hospitals.Fresh guidelines issued Tuesday night mandate all international passengers arriving in Mumbai to take a RT-PCR test. Those testing negative must then quarantine at home for a week. Those testing positive will be shifted to institutional quarantine (a hospital) or a 'private facility' (a hotel).Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar told NDTV this week the city is ready for a "tsunami" of cases."We have followed WHO guidelines. We have 'jumbo' quarantine centres... the city and Maharashtra will do its best to contain the spread. Even if a tsunami comes, we should be ready," she told NDTV.The state government has already announced new restrictions, including capping of attendance at gatherings (open or closed space) at 50, although 200 more are allowed for weddings.The state has also closed all schools and colleges till February 15, Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant told ANI yesterday. Exams will held online.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comIndia this morning reported over 90,000 new COVID-19 cases.With input from ANI
Amid the sweeping third wave of Covid-19, Maharashtra would have a seven-day quarantine period, state public health and family welfare minister Rajesh Tope said. According to him, monitoring of home quarantine and home isolation is a major challenge. He also said that because of increasing infections the pressure on laboratories for RT-PCR tests are very high. "We are looking at more Rapid Antigen Tests," he said. Asked about lockdown, he said, "The Covid-19 Task Force has come out with a new term.... 'augmented restrictions'...we are not thinking of lockdown as of now." Check out DH's latest videos:
Pune: The Shirdi airport on Monday surpassed the record of offering services to one-million passengers through 13,000 flight movements, after its inception in 2017.“The airport, run and managed by Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADC), started on October 2, 2017. It has not been a smooth ride for the airport because of the pandemic for almost two years now. Earlier, flight operations had to be suspended for months in 2019 because of low visibility. With one million passenger-mark crossed, we are hoping to continue with the recent good run in terms of passenger traffic, cargo movements and facilities,” an airport official said.Deepak Kapoor, vice-chairman and managing director of MADC, tweeted, “On January 3, Shirdi airport successfully crossed the target of serving more than one million passengers with more than 13,000 flight movements…” An official said the airport is seeing daily passenger traffic of around 1,700 on weekends against just 300 after the first 2020 lockdown.