SC says Covid-19 situation worsened in Delhi, Gujarat, asks Centre, states to file status reports

The top court was hearing a suo moto petition on the treatment of Covid-19 patients and dignified treatment of dead bodies pending since June this year.
Supreme Court(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Supreme Court(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 24, 2020 03:01 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAbraham Thomas

Terming the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) situation across the country “grim”, the Supreme Court on Monday gave two days time for states and the central government to disclose their preparedness to combat the spike in infections and the expected rise in cases in the coming months.

The top court was hearing a suo moto petition on the treatment of Covid-19 patients and dignified treatment of dead bodies pending since June this year. Taking up the matter after a long gap (the case was last heard on July 27), a three-judge bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan was concerned particularly about the prevailing situation in Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Assam.

“Last two weeks deaths have increased in Delhi. We need to know what is the situation as on date and if there are shortcomings in providing care to Covid-19 patients,” observed the bench also comprising Justices RS Reddy and MR Shah.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Court that with regard to Delhi, the Union home ministry had been monitoring the situation since November 13 and sought time to file an affidavit to inform the Court on the prevailing status of Covid-19 cases in the country, especially Delhi.

The bench even pointed out to Gujarat and asked the state government why it was allowing political parties to take out grand celebrations and permitted big marriage functions. “What is happening in Gujarat? What action have you taken against political parties for taking out grand celebrations (following the recent victory in bye-elections)….Is law not equally applicable to such persons?”

Almost all states had filed compliance report of the Court’s July 27 order directing installation of CCTVs in Covid-19 wards and constitution of Expert Committee among a slew of other directions. Taking note of the same, the bench said, “Situation is likely to grow grim in the coming months. It is also submitted that the situation in the month of December is likely to worsen and all states have to be prepared to combat the worsened situation regarding Covid-19. We are of the view that the immediate steps are required to be taken by all the States as well as by the Union of India.”

India’s proposed Venus mission attracts international payload proposals

Bengaluru The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has short-listed 20 space-based experiment proposals, including from France, for its proposed Venus orbiter mission ‘Shukrayaan’ to study the planet for more than four years.

These include “collaborative contributions” from Russia, France, Sweden and Germany, sources in the Bengaluru- headquartered space agency said.

Isro was earlier eyeing June, 2023 for the country’s first mission to Venus. “But we are currently reviewing this mission timeline due to delays arising from the pandemic situation”, an Isro official said. “Future launch opportunity is either in 2024 or 2026”. It was noted that the optimal launch window (when Venus is closest to the Earth) comes about every 19 months. Of the Indian and international payload proposals it received in response to an announcement of opportunity for novel space-based experiments to study Venus, Isro has short- listed 20.

“These 20 payload (scientific instruments) proposals, including collaborative contributions from Russia, France, Sweden and Germany, are currently under review”, the Isro official said.

The one already selected, according to French space agency CNES, is France’s VIRAL instrument (Venus Infrared Atmospheric Gas Linker) co-developed with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the LATMOS atmospheres, environments and space observations laboratory attached to the French national scientific research centre CNRS.

“Swedish Institute of Space Physics is engaged with India’s mission to Venus”, sources said.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022