Current Affairs 17th July

U.P. can’t proceed with Kanwar Yatra amid pandemic, says SC #GS2 #Governance

The Supreme Court disagreed with the Uttar Pradesh government’s proposal to conduct a “symbolic” Kanwar Yatra amid the pandemic for “compelling religious reasons”, saying the fundamental rights of citizens across faiths and their right to life trumped religious sentiments.

A Bench of Justices Rohinton F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai gave the State time till July 19 to rethink its proposal and file an affidavit. If it did not change its plans, Justice Nariman said, the court “will deliver whatever we have to deliver”.

“We are of the prima facie view that this is a matter that concerns everyone of us as citizens of India and goes to the very heart of Article 21 [right to life], which has the pride of place in the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Indian Constitution. Health of the citizenry of India and the right to life are paramount. All other sentiments, albeit religious, are subservient to this basic fundamental right

The hearing began with Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitting that the “State must not permit movement”.

An affidavit was filed by the Centre “late” in the Supreme Court. After speed-reading the affidavit, Justice Nariman announced peremptorily, “State of Uttar Pradesh cannot go on with this, 100%”. The Bench refused to permit a “physical yatra”.

Rising cases in Maharashtra, Kerala a cause of worry: PM #GS2 #Governance #GS3 #SnT

The increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Kerala and Maharashtra was a cause of grave worry, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while interacting with the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra and Kerala.

He pointed out that in the past week, 80% cases as well as 84% COVID-19 deaths came from the States present in the meeting. He cautioned that similar trends were seen in January-February before the second wave. The States where cases are rising, we have to take proactive measures to prevent the possibility of a third wave

Mr. Modi underlined experts’ view that if cases kept rising for a long time, chances of mutation of the coronavirus would also increase and dangers of new variants would also rise. “Therefore, we need to continue with the strategy of Test, Track, Treat and Teeka [vaccination] while putting special focus on micro-containment zones. The districts with large numbers should be focused on.

Bail orders will be sent instantly to jail authorities: SC #GS2 #Governance

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said people given bail by courts, even by the Supreme Court, have to wait for days before prison authorities release them. “It is just too much,” he said.

The Chief Justice, heading a Special Bench, voiced the Supreme Court’s exasperation at prison authorities who insist on receiving by hand the “authentic” hard copy of the bail order regardless of the fact that the personal liberty of people suffers.

“In this age of information and communication technology, we are still looking at the skies for the pigeons to communicate the orders,” Chief Justice Ramana remarked orally.

So, as a solution, the Chief Justice, flanked by Justices L. Nageswara Rao and A.S. Bopanna, announced in open court the rolling out of a new scheme called ‘FASTER’ or ‘Fast and Secure Transmission of Electronic Records’ by which the Supreme Court would instantly, directly, securely and electronically transmit bail and other orders to jail authorities, district courts and High Courts. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal appreciated the court’s initiative.

Net connectivity

When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said orders anyway were uploaded on the court website, Justice Rao said “the idea behind the scheme is to transmit orders securely”.

The Bench asked State governments to file their reports about the Internet connectivity in their jails to prevent technical glitches in future. The Secretary General of the Supreme Court was directed to submit a comprehensive report formulating the scheme within two weeks.

The hearing was based on a suo motu case, ‘In Re: Delay in release of convicts after grant of bail’, registered on the initiative of Chief Justice Ramana to confront the problem which affects the liberty and dignity of prisoners.

Recently, 13 prisoners in Agra Jail, who suffered imprisonment for up to two decades despite the Juvenile Justice Board declaring them ‘juveniles’ at the time of commission of their crimes, were granted bail by the Supreme Court on July 8, but were released by the prison authorities after a delay of four days.

Again, Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal and Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha walked out of Tihar Jail nearly two days after the Delhi High Court granted them bail.

The Supreme Court has made concerted moves in the recent months to de-congest prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, a Bench led by Chief Justice Ramana had ordered the police to limit arrests during the pandemic to prevent over-crowding in jails and urged courts to not order detention in a mechanical manner.

Centre notifies jurisdiction of Krishna, Godavari river management boards #GS2 #Governance

The Central government took a major step towards facilitating an amicable settlement of the river water disputes between Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) and Telangana by issuing a gazette notification on Friday stipulating the jurisdictions of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) as per the AP Reorganization Act of 2014.

The notification will come into effect on October 14. It is expected to refrain A.P. and Telangana from taking actions that would further heighten the tension prevailing over the alleged unilateral drawal of water by Telangana from the Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar and Pulichintala projects for power generation over the last few weeks in a manner that purportedly harmed the interests of farmers in A.P.

The KRMB and GRMB are mandated to regulate the supply of water and power generated from the projects or components thereof having regard to the awards made by the Krishna and Godavari Water Disputes Tribunals, agreements entered into or arrangements made by the then existing State of A.P. with any other State or Union territory and any other agreements that may be made by the co-basin States.

On and from the date of commencement of this notification, in respect of operational projects or from the date when a non-operational project becomes operational as the case may be, A.P. and Telangana have to completely hand over the jurisdiction of the projects on the Krishna and Godavari rivers and their components to the respective boards.

Centre working on specifics to bring Moderna vaccine: Paul #GS3 #SnT

The Central government “is working on specifics to bring in the Moderna vaccine”, V.K. Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog. At the Health Ministry press conference, he said people were still vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, which was very much around. “We have to be alert. Our COVID case decline has slowed down and this is a warning sign.

Dr. Paul said that the COVID-19 situation in most of the regions has turned from bad to worse. “Overall, the world is moving towards a third wave. World Health Organization’s warning about the third COVID wave is a red flag,” he said.

Speaking about the vaccination process in the country, Dr. Paul said a target to administer 50 crore doses before July had been set and “we are on the path to achieving it”.

Routine vaccinations

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has said that reports alleging that lakhs of Indian children may have missed their routine vaccinations due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to increased risk of future outbreaks and deaths, “are not based on facts and do not reflect the true picture”.

“It is clarified that since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Ministry has been focused towards maintaining essential services, including immunisation under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). The Ministry, along with all States and UTs and development partners, has worked towards mitigating negative impacts of COVID-19 and taking urgent actions to ensure that children receive life-saving vaccines,” said the Health Ministry in its release. It added that in order to mitigate negative impacts of COVID-19 on vaccination services, many other steps have also been taken.

“A national guideline to safely continue immunisation services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including polio Supplementary Immunisation Activities (SIAs), has been developed. In order to identify reasons for missed vaccine doses, monitoring & supervision is being done by State and district task forces for prompt corrective action. Also, high-risk groups/areas (e.g. children who missed vaccination during COVID-19 outbreaks, districts with high vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), districts with low vaccine coverage, etc.) for risk mitigation have been identified,” noted the Ministry.

The Ministry added that Intensified Mission Indradhanush identified 250 high-risk districts, where more than 9.5 lakh children and 2.24 lakh pregnant women were vaccinated.

Over 86% of breakthrough infections caused by Delta’ #GS3 #SnT

A majority, over 86%, of the breakthrough infections after COVID-19 vaccination have been caused by the Delta variant, with hospitalisation of 9.8% of such cases and fatality observed in 0.4% of cases, according to the results of a nationwide study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on breakthrough COVID-19 infection. A breakthrough infection is a case of illness in which a vaccinated individual becomes sick from the same illness that the vaccine is meant to prevent.

For the study, “Clinical characterisation and Genomic analysis of COVID-19 breakthrough infections during second wave in different States of India”, ICMR collected 677 clinical samples of individuals who have been partially or fully vaccinated but contracted the infection.

The samples were collected from 17 States and Union Territories, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh. The study found that a total of 482 cases (71%) were symptomatic with one or more symptoms, while 29% had asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Fever (69%) was the most consistent presentation followed by bodyache, including headache and nausea (56%), cough (45%), sore throat (37%), loss of smell and taste (22%), diarrhoea (6%), breathlessness (6%) and 1% had ocular irritation and redness.”

The southern, western, eastern and northwestern regions predominantly reported breakthrough infection mainly from Delta and then the Kappa variant. Alpha was predominant behind reinfection in the northern region.