Times of India | 1 month ago | 21-06-2022 | 08:26 am
Pune: Free Corbevax shots will also be offered to eligible students (12-14 age group) studying in private schools, besides government or civic-run institutes, during the vaccination drive, state immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai said on Monday.“Private schools only need to contact the local health authority for holding the vaccination drive on school campuses. The consent letter from parents is not required. The school only needs to have a confirmed pool of students ready to take the shot so that adequate arrangements can be made,” he said.Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of Indian Medical Association’s Hospital Board of India (HBI), said, “The Corbevax is being administered at Rs 400 per shot at handful of private centres in the state. Parents should let their children avail the benefit of free vaccination drive as it is the safest vaccine available.”Dr Suryakant Devkar, Pune city’s chief immunisation officer, said, “We plan to vaccinate 11,800 students in 12-14 age bracket at 76 schools (civic as well as private) from June 24.”Two months into the Corbevax drive for the 12-14 age group, the state has recorded 58% first dose coverage of the target population. The second dose coverage is at 27%.Nashik, Sangli and Ahmednagar currently lead in Corbevax coverage, while Pune and Mumbai numbers are below the state average. Response has also been poor in Mumbai. Pune, Thane and Nagpur. “We were unable to hold special camps in schools as they were shut. We are hoping numbers to pick up as most schools have reopened,” Dr Desai said. Low coverage has also increased Corbevax wastage in Maharashtra.
MUMBAI: Maharashtra has been relegated to the third position in the country's cadaver organ donation map with neighbouring Gujarat climbing to the second spot, helped by an aggressive programme driven by the public sector. While the state has a little over four months to reclaim its place, chances of toppling Gujarat, or the current leader in donations, Telangana, seem bleak at the current pace. In the eight months of 2022, Maharashtra has seen only 52 cadaver donations, most of which came from Pune (24), followed by Mumbai (22). Nagpur and Aurangabad contributed five and one, respectively. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, Maharashtra had carried out the highest donations in India-160 in 2019-raising hopes that the deceased donor programme had finally broken its inertia. Donations dropped to 74 in 2020 and improved marginally to 95 in 2021. Officials said the pre-pandemic momentum is still lacking. Yet, there is no plan of action. Telangana this year has already seen more than double the number of Maharashtra's donations at 119. In both the pandemic years, Telangana outperformed Maharashtra. It is, however, Gujarat that has made everyone take note. Since January, that state has carried out 98 donations, a remarkable rise from 70 in the entire 2021 and a nearly three-fold rise compared to 36 in 2020. Dr SK Mathur, president of the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC), said the programme in Maharashtra has slowed in most private hospitals while it is yet to become a priority for public centres. "The fear of Covid is diminishing, and people are returning to hospitals, so the donations too should get the push," he said. The ZTCC has asked hospitals to capitalise on Independence Day and collect pledges from patients, relatives, and their own staffers. In Mumbai, more than 3,000 people are on the waitlist for kidneys and over 300 for a liver. InMaharashtra, the number grows every day. Aarti Gokhale, central coordinator of ZTCC Pune, said they have roped in an agency to boost social media campaigns so that younger people are aware and can influence the seniors regarding donating. Last year, former health minister Rajesh Tope formed a task force to increase donations. Dr Mathur, a part of the task force, said they have started meeting intensivists and student doctors at medical colleges. They are also trying to influence public hospitals. Gujarat has mainly shown what the participation of a public hospital could achieve. The Civic Hospital in Ahmedabad contributed 68 of the 98 donations this year, catapulting that state to the second position in India.
MUMBAI/AURANGABAD/NASHIK: Their targets were two steel bar manufacturing units suspected of concealing unaccounted wealth of over Rs 100 crore. Their destination was Jalna in Marathwada region. Their plan was to enter the town undetected and launch a surprise search operation. The over 200-strong contingent of income tax officers and staff stole into town dressed as members of a wedding procession. They even travelled in vehicles decked up to look like a wealthy groom was bringing his extended family along. 'Rahul weds Anjali' and 'Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge' (we'll whisk the bride away) read the messages emblazoned on their cars. When they finally got there, they seized cash totalling Rs 56 crore and bullion and jewellery worth Rs 14 crore. Vijay V Singh, Mohammed Akhef & Tushar Pawar report, I-T seizes cash, gold worth Rs 70 crore in Jalna, Mumbai & AurangabadThe income tax (I-T) department has seized unaccounted cash of Rs 56 crore and bullion and jewellery worth Rs 14 crore, besides finding evidence of unaccounted excess stock of raw materials exceeding Rs120 crore during a search at two TMT steel manufacturing groups in Jalna on August 3. The search operation covered more than 30 premises spread over Jalna, Aurangabad, Nashik and Mumbai, according to an official release from the ministry of finance on Thursday. A Nashik I-T official, who did not wish to be named, told TOI, "The searches, over five days, were led by the detection and investigation wing of the I-T's Nashik office and involved over 200 sleuths from Nashik, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Mumbai." "The department maintained secrecy in the run-up to the searches," said another I-T official from Aurangabad. "A convoy of over 100 vehicles were involved in the searches at Jalna and Aurangabad in the early morning of August 3; all reached simultaneously. In fact, before entering Jalna and Aurangabad, stickers were put on the cars of the search parties which read 'Rahul weds Anjali' and 'Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge' (we'll whisk the bride away) to make them look like a marriage procession," the official said. "Some of the search party members even sported the traditional pheta (turban) worn at marriage ceremonies. The search parties were carrying doctors with them. Once the searches started, no one was allowed to move in or out of the factories, residences, offices and farmhouse premises that were searched. In fact, there were 70 trucks at the manufacturing units in Jalna which were loading or unloading consignments and all this activity was stopped till the search process was over," the official added. "The initial analysis of seized evidences of both the groups has revealed that they were engaged in large scale tax evasion, resorting to inflation of expenditure through bogus purchases from several entities," the release stated. "These entities have also been found to be involved in GST frauds. Evidence has also been found of excess stock of raw materials, not recorded in the books of account, exceeding Rs120 crore," the release added. "Examination of evidences in one of the groups further reveals that it has indulged in layering its unaccounted income through bogus unsecured loans and share premium, obtained from Kolkata-based shell companies," the release said. "The search team has also detected a large number of lockers of both the groups, opened in the names of employees of the companies, which are maintained with a cooperative bank. During the search operation, more than 30 bank lockers, including several lockers in the cooperative bank, were searched," the release added.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is setting up nine mini waste-to-energy or biomethanisation plants with the capacity to process two metric tonnes (MT) of organic waste per day. These will be located across Mumbai with the aim to help reduce wet waste going to the Deonar and Kanjurmarg dumping grounds.At present, Mumbai sends about 6,500 MT of waste to the two dumping grounds, and has been planning decentralised waste management and segregation at each ward.There are three operational mini waste-to-energy plants, one each at Pali Hill and Haji Ali with a capacity to handle two MT of organic waste per day, and one at Malad with a capacity to take 30 MT of organic waste per day.Meanwhile, each of the nine plants will require about 2,200 sqft of land, and 500 litres of water per day for operation. Waste will be segregated by the civic body and organic wet waste will be sent to the biomethanisation plants. Plastic and paper waste will not be recycled at the plant.A senior civic official from the solid waste management department said, “Wards have been directed to find suitable plots in their jurisdiction to set up the nine biomethanisation plants.”The electricity generated from each plant will be used in the nearest BMC building. BMC has estimated net electricity production of 30 to 50 units per day, after basic consumption demand is met. The leftover will be settled with the electricity provider for metering. Approximately 300kg of manure will be produced per day, and will be used in municipal gardens and plantations across the city.BMC recently floated tenders to set up the biomethanisation plants, which include contracts for operation and maintenance for a period of five years after construction is completed.With the aim of scientific closure of the Mulund dumping ground, 500 MT of waste is biomined every day there. Of the 70 lakh MT of waste at the dumping ground, biomining has been completed for 10 lakh MT, according to data from BMC’s solid waste management department. The senior civic official quoted above said, “After monsoon, BMC will procure new machinary which will increase the daily biomining capacity at Mulund.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxMeanwhile, after half a decade of waiting, construction of BMC’s 600 MT waste-to-energy plant at Deonar dumping ground will begin after monsoon, as work orders have already been issued to the contractor. On June 4, BMC received the consent order from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, enabling it to begin work.In May this year, BMC set up a committee to assess the need for a second waste-to-energy plant at Deonar dumping ground, as it is expecting the quantity of waste generated daily to reduce gradually with interventions. On the basis of this committee’s report, the BMC will decide on the capacity of the second waste-to-energy plant at the dumping ground.
You need to cross a water obstacle to reach the home of India’s best steeplechaser.Not the vertical hurdle on a flat track that Avinash Sable gracefully leaps over to bag medals, but a five-foot wide crater, with brown slushy water, that can swallow a sedan.Beyond this point, there are no roads, no water. “And no prospects, too,” says Amol Kadam, a school teacher. “75 years of independence and we still wait for our basic rights. But it’s okay, we will wait for 75 years more, and 75 after that for a decent road and tapped water. Who’s in a rush?”The hopelessness in the 36-year-old’s voice is visible on the faces of the thousand-odd inhabitants of Mandwa, a blink-and-miss village in the centre of the Balaghat Mountain Range in Maharashtra’s Beed district.It’s pouring down on a Tuesday afternoon, which you’d assume would be happy news for one of Maharashtra’s most drought-prone districts. Rather, it only exposes the complex relationship the region has with nature: if it rains a lot, like on Tuesday afternoon, the crops get damaged; and when it rains less, it’s a drought.“There’s injustice from politicians, there’s injustice from nature. If you are born here, the circumstances are such that you are destined to be a failure,” Kadam laments. “This is why Avinash Sable’s success means so much to us. He’s like a wallflower; not to be seen by the world. But still he’s here. An invisible genius, that’s what Avinash is.”Around here, however, he isn’t ‘invisible’. With the GPS as useful as a raincoat in this barren land, a temple was, for years, a guide to navigate the slippery terrains – school, 5km south of the temple; market, a couple of kilometres to the west…These days, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist’s under-construction, the eight-bedroom house has become a reference. Call it palatial navigation.Being constructed on one of the highest points of the range, the rooftop of this mansion offers an unobstructed, breathtaking view of the village: lush green slopes in the front where deer prance around and cattle graze, acres of family’s farmland to the left and right along with a water bund to ensure year-round supply.Sable, who crisscrosses the world for training and competition, yearns to return to nature’s lap, his younger brother Yogesh says. “When he decided to construct a house here, I asked, ‘why not in Pune or some other city?’” Yogesh recalls. “He replied, ‘what’s in a city? I’m going to live here for the rest of my life.’”The ‘lazy’ masonSable’s story doesn’t begin at this under-construction palace.It starts, instead, at a tin-shed hut with no lights and one room a kilometre downhill, where Mukund and Vaishali Sable, who worked at a brick kiln, raised their three children. The husband and wife would start their work at around 2 am and slog on well past sunset for a combined wage of Rs 100-150 per day.“It wasn’t much but just enough to get by. Let’s just say we didn’t sleep on an empty stomach. But there wasn’t anything else we would indulge in,” Vaishali says.Yogesh, who walked – and occasionally ran – 6km to school every day with his brother Sable, adds: “We had no expectations from life. Our aim was to get some basic education and get work as a farmer or labourer, like everyone else around here.”Sable was in Class 7 when, following selection trials at his school, he got selected by talent scouts for distance-running under a state government scheme for promising junior athletes. In 2006, he was sent to an academy in Aurangabad but three years later, Sable was dropped from the programme because, according to Yogesh, ‘the coaches did not see any potential in him.’Even before he could dream of being a sportsman, Sable’s career had crashed. He returned to Mandwa after his first brush with ‘failure’. But the happy-go-lucky teenager quickly adopted a new routine – and even found his new passion: the humble vada pav.“For two years, he would wake up at 5 am, practice for half an hour, tend the cattle, and used to leave for college (10+2) at 8 am,” Yogesh says. On his way to college, Sable would drop by the brick kiln to borrow Rs 10 from his parents so that he could eat vada pav after college. “Every day, he ate that, every day! He was so lazy,” Yogesh laughs. “You could see it from his appearance. He’d put on so much that it didn’t look like he is a poor labourer’s son,” Mukund, his father, bellows.This is also the time he began working as a mason. It’s what most did in Mandwa – with a severe paucity of employment opportunities, youngsters here, Kadam, the school teacher, says are generally left with two options: either work as a labourer in and around the village or move to a city and become a daily wager there. Farming, he adds, due to the water crisis, isn’t a viable career option for the majority.“Avinash had done his Class 12 in Arts. What job will you get after 12th Arts? So, he started working for anyone who needed men for construction activities… pakka hard labour. He did this to support his expenses, to buy clothes, a mobile phone… a very basic one. He did not want to be a burden to our parents so for two years after college, he worked as a mason for Rs 100 per day,” Yogesh says.His parents offered to sell the tiny farmland they owned to fund his graduation. Sable, however, refused to take their help.The ‘goofy’ ArmymanInstead, the ‘goofy and absent-minded’ Sable, banking on his brief sporting background, chose to take part in a recruitment camp held by the Army, in Ahmednagar, the closest major town to Mandwa.Sable, his younger brother says, passed all tests with ‘flying colours’. “But he had forgotten to carry his documents so they sent him back!” Six months later, he reappeared for trials in Osmanabad, got selected again, and this time, Sable’s memory hadn’t failed him.Yogesh recalls how the two brothers spent their nights on a footpath outside the Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT) in Pune in 2012 when they went for his medicals and other verifications because they had no money to stay in a hotel.“We had just Rs 2,000 in our pockets for all the fees and our travel. We couldn’t afford a room so we slept overnight on a footpath outside the AIPT. And that too, only one person would sleep so that the other could guard the money,” Yogesh says.In December 2012, Sable became a part of the army – ‘the first from the village to get a proper job with a fixed monthly salary’, according to Yogesh. “He was content with it. He hoped to save enough to build a house and live a peaceful life.”Instead, the next couple of years in the army would turn into a series of adventures, some of which he laughs about with his brother and some, which were near-fatal.This one time, while undergoing his training, Yogesh says Sable and his training partner were on a night patrol when both passed out. As his luck would have it, a senior was on supervising duty and saw both trainees sleeping with the rifles unguarded. “Next day, he was punished. I don’t think anyone would’ve been punished as much as him,” Yogesh laughs. “He’d have been standing with those truck tires around his shoulders all day… so many punishments!”Sable Jr narrates a story when, again during training, a misfired bullet nearly hit his elder brother while the other time, in Siachen, he had another narrow escape when a fellow soldier passed away in a mishap on duty, where Sable too was supposed to be posted.Even the family isn’t exactly aware of how he returned to sport but Yogesh feels it was a taunt that drew Sable back to running. “He was very healthy, weighing around 84-85kg. Someone taunted him, saying that ‘anyone can join the Army, there’s nothing special in what he achieved’,” Yogesh says, adding that it’s one of the few subjects Sable hasn’t opened up about. “That, in a way, propelled him. The Army life was very tough anyway, so he thought, why not give sports another shot?”Sable, the steeplechaserIn 2015, stumbling upon one life goal after another – from masonry to army – Sable finally found his calling in sport. He’d practice to get back into shape in the spare hours after duty, even if it meant running for hours in the middle of the night.Olympian Nitendra Rawat, a marathoner, was one of the first to help him. During the 2016 National Championships, Sable was on the Services’ cross-country team where he finished fifth in a race full of established names. Rawat saw the potential in Sable and after the race, introduced him to Amrish Kumar, the army coach who’d go on to play an inspirational role in the athlete’s career.Yogesh says to support his running, Sable would go hunting for races and take part in – and won – events all over Mumbai and its suburbs. “The salary he received from the army, he gave it at home because he did not wish that our parents should work at the brick kiln, given he was now an earning member,” Yogesh says. “So, to support his sports expenses, mainly dietary needs, he began running races. The cash prize was used for protein supplements.”The switch to steeplechase happened after the 2017 nationals, Yogesh, himself a 5k runner, says. During the championship in Chennai, Sable clocked close to 9:05 minutes, which was the second-fastest time of the race behind another army man and former Asian medallist, Naveen Dagar.His diary entries from 2018 to 2020 provide a peek into Sable’s mindset as well as his evolution from a wannabe long-distance runner to a champion steeplechaser.In one of the posts, he declares his target – “now start of Asian Games” – and meticulously notes down his everyday training regimen, including the number of laps he needs to run, the pace that needs to be maintained, along with other stretching and running exercises.In another entry, he seems to be self-motivating himself vis-à-vis his steeplechase progress while there are pages dedicated to Belarusian coach Nicolai Snesarev, who – Yogesh says – turned Sable into a serious runner with lofty targets.The family manWhen Sable qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, the Maharashtra government awarded a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh.Sable used that money in a way that was hardly surprising: first to get a permanent water connection at his home, then construct a water bund to ensure a year-round supply for the crops before building a new house. “All our life, we have had to walk at least 2km to get drinking water,” Vaishali says. “Now, we just need to turn the tap on. It’s magic, which has been made possible by Sable.”The family moved from their small hut downhill to a smaller one closer to their farmland and their under-construction home. Last year, after a disappointing finish at the Tokyo Olympics, Sable found refuge in this corner of the world.He’d spend mornings tending the cattle and taking after the farms. And in the afternoons, he’d go back to his masonry days and construct parts of his new house. “That was the time he was confused and clueless. He wasn’t sure if he’d compete again, so he found solace in this,” Yogesh says.The family’s life has changed beyond recognition, his father Mukund says. “Dev manus aahe (He is a God-like figure). Lives with simplicity, does everything for the family…”Mukund hasn’t watched many of Sable’s races. He doesn’t understand what steeplechase is. And doesn’t bother about the other finer nuances. But his chest swells with pride while talking about his son’s thrilling run in Birmingham last week, where Sable became the first non-Kenyan athlete to finish on the podium of the 3,000m steeplechase after six editions of the Commonwealth Games.“I just know he finished second, and I am very proud of him. But I didn’t understand the race,” Mukund says. “Kenya kaay aahe? (What is Kenya?)”For people still waiting for roads and water, it’s a world too far removed.
Shiv Sena’s unilateral decision to appoint Ambadas Danve as the leader of Opposition of the state Legislative Council has created fissures within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance. So much so that a delegation of NCP, led by Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Ajit Pawar, met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night to advise him to consult allies before taking any such major decision.Congress has openly expressed its displeasure over the action of the Sena leadership, with party state president Nana Patole saying on Thursday that the alliance with the Sena was never “natural” and “permanent”.“The post of Leader of Opposition in state Assembly is with the NCP and deputy chairperson’s post is with Shiv Sena. We were of the opinion that the leader of Opposition post in the Legislative Council should be given to Congress. But Shiv Sena did not even consult us and went ahead without taking us into confidence. We oppose this,” Patole told mediapersons in Aurangabad.“The alliance with the Sena was never natural and it was done because Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar met our leader Sonia Gandhi,” he added.“Maha Vikas Aghadi is a not permanent one. If Congress is not taken into confidence during the decision-making process, then we will also have to think over it,” Patole said.On Wednesday night, the NCP delegation met Thackeray at the latter’s residence Matoshree in Mumbai. “We hadn’t met him (Thackeray) after he stepped down from the CM’s post. Many issues, including some political ones, were discussed,” NCP state president Jayant Patil told mediapersons.Asked about Congress’ position about Danve’s selection as leader of Opposition, Patil said the MVA stands united and a meeting will be held with Patole once he returns to Mumbai.According to sources, Congress and NCP are wary about more defections from the Sena and especially, from the state Council. As per the number strength in the Legislative Council, Opposition Sena has 12 members while NCP and Congress have 10 each.“Though Uddhav Thackeray has announced that he will resign from the Council, his resignation is yet to be submitted. It ensures that Sena remains the biggest Opposition party in the Council,” a source said. However, three Sena MLCs have reportedly shifted their allegiance to the Shinde camp and are likely to join the faction soon, sources added.“In that case, the Congress will get the leader of Opposition’s post. We wanted to discuss all of this and then decide on the name. But Sena went ahead without taking us into confidence,” said a Congress leader.On August 8, Thackeray had sent a letter addressed to the chairman of the Legislative Council, recommending Danve’s name as the leader of Opposition. Since the post is vacant, it was accepted by Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe – a Sena leader and Thackeray loyalist. The next day, Danve’s appointment was confirmed.Incidentally, Congress Legislative Party leader Balasaheb Thorat had written to the chairman of the Legislative Council on August 3 staking claim on the post.The Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, however, tried to downplay Patole’s statement. “We don’t take Nana Patole’s statement seriously but it is unfortunate that he made such a critical juncture,” Sena MP Vinayak Raut told The Indian Express.“Congress should understand that whoever has more numbers, gets the opportunity to have its MLC as the leader of Opposition in the Council. The Shiv Sena has the highest number of MLCs and therefore, it was natural that our MLC would become the leader of Opposition,” he added.Raut said the statement by the Congress chief has come at a wrong time. “At a time when we are going through a difficult phase, we expect our allies to extend support to us and not speak at cross purposes,” he added.Another Sena leader said, “When Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena is struggling to stay afloat, the Maharashtra Congress has rubbed salt into its wound… the Congress is trying to weaken it further. This was not expected especially when the BJP has made all out efforts to force Uddhav Thackeray to dump the MVA, which he has refused.”Asked whether the Congress was trying to break the MVA, Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “We are merely objecting to the denial of post to the Congress. The NCP holds the Opposition leader’s post in the Assembly. The Shiv Sena holds the deputy leader’s post in the Council. Therefore, the Congress should have been given one post, as we were equal partners in MVA.”Meanwhile, reacting to Patole’s statement, Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson for Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, said: “This exactly is what we have been saying. Shiv Sena’s alliance with Congress and NCP was not natural. We hope Patole’s statement will help reunite the two groups.”(With inputs from ENS)