Delhi bans diesel gensets as AQI tanks
Delhi reported an AQI (air quality index) between 82 and 268 on October 28th, coaxing The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ban the use of diesel generator sets and enhancing parking fees by up to four times in Delhi-NCR. These measures were listed under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), according to an official order.
According to an assessment by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Delhi is under threat of an air quality emergency as stubble fires are expected to peak during Diwali, when air pollution levels generally rise.
“Actions under ‘very poor’ category (average AQI between 200 and 300), in addition to steps like ban on the use of coal and wood in restaurants and open kitchens and augmentation of bus and Metro services. listed under the ‘poor to moderate’ AQI category should be implemented with immediate effect in Delhi-NCR,” the CPCB order read.
Source: Hindustan Times
COVID containment measures extended till November end
As the festival season gathers momentum, the Center on October 28th took cognizance of the expected rise in COVID cases and extended the existing nationwide COVID-19 containment measures, including suspension of international flights, till November 30th.
As per health ministry’s data, on October 29th, India recorded 14,348 fresh cases, a rise of 20% from October 27th. The total number of cases currently stands at 3,42,46,157.
Also, according to a weekly report by the India SARS-CoV-2 Genome Consortium (INSACOG), the body that tracks emergence of new variants, the coronavirus variant AY4.2, linked to the rise in cases in the United Kingdom, is now ‘very frequent’ in India.
WHO at final stage of assessment of Covaxin
A World Health Organization official, on October 28th, said in a press briefing that the health body trusts the Indian vaccine industry to manufacture high quality antidotes.
Responding to a question on the delay in approval of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Mariangela Simao, the assistant director general of Access to Medicines and Health Products at the WHO said, “We are right now at the last stage of the assessment by the external advisory group and we hope to have a final recommendation to the WHO by early November.”
India had applied to WHO for emergency use listing of Covaxin in April. Last month, the organization said Bharat Biotech began submitting “rolling data” on July 6th.
Emergency use listing, which is normally given for a limited duration depending on the quality of data supplied by the vaccine manufacturer, is a procedure to approve vaccines and other products for use during public health emergencies.
G-20 nations support India on mutual recognition of vax certificates
India received “tremendous support” at the G-20 summit held in Rome for endorsing the need for a mutual recognition of travel documents, including testing and vaccination certificates, according to Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles.
“The huge role that India is playing both in the vaccination plan in India and the role that we are playing and we proposed to play in the coming months and years to help the world vaccinate, has been widely welcomed by almost all G20 nations and we are working towards an acceptable language to bring that within the G20 framework,” said Goyal.
Participating in the sixth G20 Sherpas’ meeting from October 27-29 in Rome, Goyal said by and large, there is a broad consensus on this because all nations wish to restart travel, economic activities and bring back normalcy.
Source: The Economic Times
SC appoints expert panel to investigate usage of Pegasus spyware
The Supreme Court, on October 13th, set up an expert panel to investigate whether the central government had used the Israeli spyware Pegasus to surveil citizens without their consent. The Court observed that the government cannot get a “free pass” under the garb of “national security.”
The three-member panel will be supervised by retired Supreme Court judge R.V. Raveendran. It will examine details of people targeted by the Israeli made military-grade Pegasus software. The court expressed concern over the impact on privacy and freedom of speech in the country.
“In a democratic country governed by rule of law, indiscriminate spying on individuals cannot be allowed except with sufficient statutory safeguards, by following the procedure established by law under the Constitution” said the bench headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana
The order dismissed the Centre’s plea to abstain from interfering in matters of national security and allowing them to set up a panel of experts themselves. “National security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from by virtue of its mere mentioning” the bench observed.
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(Compiled by Saachi D’Souza)