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PM Modi: Centre extends ‘Garib Kalyan Yojana’ to ensure free ration to 80 cr people

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday addressed the nation and talked about country’s response to the devastating second wave of Coronavirus.

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“This is the deadliest pandemic in the past 100 years. The modern world has not seen such a pandemic. Our country has fought this pandemic at many levels,” PM Modi says.

The Prime Minister said that new health infrastructure has been developed in the 1.5 years with COVID hospitals, ventilators beds, to preparing a network of testing labs. During the second wave in April-May, demand for medical oxygen increased at an unprecedented rate, said the PM Modi.

Highlights of his address:

-In his address PM Modi talked about India’s commendable response to a devastating second wave of the pandemic, adding that from June 21, the Centre will provide free vaccines to the states for all citizens above the age of 18 years. “The Government of India itself will buy 75% of the total vaccine production from vaccine manufacturers and give it free to the state governments,” PM Modi announced.

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-Pm said his govt has decided to extend ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’ till Diwali. 80 crore poor will be provided free ration, under the scheme.

-Private hospitals can only charge Rs 150 as service charge on vaccines.

-He also said that to increase vaccine availability, the process of procuring vaccines from abroad has been sped up. Experts have also expressed concerns about children. In this direction, the trial of two vaccines is underway. Research is being conducted for a nasal vaccine in the country.

-As his government has been criticised for its vaccine plan by states and has also been questioned by the Supreme Court amid shortages and a slow roll-out, PM Modi said vaccine supply will be increasing in the coming days and that seven companies in the country are producing different vaccines, while 3 vaccine trials are at advanced stage.

It is to be mentioned that when India was devastated by a massive virus caseload in the second wave in April-May, the government had to pause exports of Covid shots under its “Vaccine Maitri” programme and scrambled to procure more doses to tackle shortage in the country.

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Under a new liberalised policy that came into effect on May 1, states and private hospitals were allowed to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers. At the same time, the Centre opened vaccinations to all adults and said it would continue to offer free inoculations for those above 45.

The Supreme Court last week called the policy of free vaccines for people who are 45 and above and paid doses for the 18-44 group, “arbitrary and irrational”.

Flagging other flaws like problems faced by rural people in accessing vaccines, the court asked the centre to review its policy and “place on record a roadmap of projected availability of vaccines till 31 December 2021”. The Centre was asked to furnish complete details on its vaccination policy, including all documents and file notings, and also clarify how ₹ 35,000 crore announced in the Budget was used in procuring vaccines.

On Saturday, the Centre defended its vaccine policy and said media reports suggesting inequities in the distribution of doses were “inaccurate and speculative”. It said the policy had reduced the “operational stress” on state-run vaccination facilities.

PM Modi last addressed the nation on April 20, when cases were spiking. He had said that the second wave of the coronavirus had hit India like a storm and appealed to states to use lockdowns only as the last resort. “In a situation like today, we have to save the country from a lockdown. If you all work together, create awareness then there is no need for containment, never mind a lockdown. I appeal to states that they should use the lockdown as the last resort – our focus should be micro-containment zones. We will take care of economic health as well as the health of countrymen,” the Prime Minister had said.

India today recorded 1.06 lakh cases, a drop of 12% from yesterday’s 1.14 lakh infections that were reported to be the lowest in two months. The country’s caseload now stands at 2.89 crore.

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