City Buzz: Delhi air pollution touches hazardous levels | Covaxin finally gets WHO nod

weekly urban news round-up

A view of Delhi City
The busy, chaotic streets of the Paharganj area of Delhi. Pic: McKay Savage/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Air pollution in Delhi reaches hazardous levels post-Diwali

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi reached an alarming 1645 at 1 am on Friday, November 5th, a day after Diwali. AQI data revealed that, post 6pm on Diwali, the air quality in the city worsened, as firecrackers were burst across the city. Citizens complained of itchy throats and watery eyes.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and beyond, ‘severe.’  

Source: Times of India

Read more: Delhi: Super commission fiddles while air pollution turns deadly

Cash with public rising, says RBI data

Recent data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) indicates that despite efforts to digitise payments and cut cash transactions altogether, cash is still king for many Indians. About 15 crore people in the country don’t have a bank account, making cash transactions the preferred mode of payment

Recent RBI data revealed that the amount of currency with the public was at a record high of Rs 28.30 lakh crore for the fortnight ending on October 8th. Cash with the public has increased 211% from 9.11 lakh crore (recorded on November 25th, 2016).

Source: DNA

Delhi cabinet approves additional Rs 1,544 crore for COVID-19 management

The Delhi government on November 5 approved an additional Rs 1,544 crore allocated for multiple aspects of COVID-19 management, including testing, laboratories, isolation facilities, hospital beds, ICUs, ventilators, medicines and patient care services.

Titled the ‘emergency COVID response package’, the move was approved during a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. The allocated budget is meant to prepare the city for a possible COVID-19 wave, after the horrific second wave in April that left 25,000 dead. 

Source: Hindustan Times

Representative Image | Source: Wikimedia Commons

WHO approves India’s Covaxin for emergency usage

After months of speculation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally granted Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin Emergency Use Listing (EUL). This move will have a positive impact on vaccine availability of the vaccine in poorer countries. WHO had cleared the AstraZeneca (Covishield) vaccine in four weeks but Covaxin has taken 20 weeks to get approval.

In its approval, the WHO said:

  • The vaccine was recommended for use in two doses, with a dose interval of four weeks, in the 18 and above age group
  • Covaxin had 78% efficacy against COVID-19 of any severity, 14 or more days after the second dose, and is extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements
  • Available data on vaccination of pregnant women with Covaxin are insufficient to assess vaccine safety or efficacy in pregnancy

One of WHO’s aims is to vaccinate at least 40% of people in all countries by the end of the year. Currently, 70 countries are yet to vaccinate 10% of their population, and 30 other countries, including Africa, have vaccinated fewer than 2% of their population. 

Source: The Hindu, BBC News

22 states and UTs have have lowered VAT on fuel

The oil ministry said on November 5th that 22 states and Union Territories have lowered VAT on petrol and diesel, after the Centre slashed excise duty on November 3rd. 

Government data showed that since the Centre had reduced excise duty, Leh had seen the maxiumum reduction in petrol and diesel prices by Rs 13.43 and Rs 19.61 per litre, respectively. Bangalore, among the bigger cities, saw a reduction of Rs 13.35 and Rs 19.49 per litre.

But petrol prices still remain over Rs 100 a litre across the country.

Source: Times of India

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(Compiled by Saachi D’Souza)

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The News Desk at Citizen Matters puts out Press Releases, notifications and curated information useful to the urban reader.