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Quenching thirst with contaminated water

Arsenic gets entry into the food chain through the use of pollutant-contaminated water for irrigation, and this plays a major role in deciding the agricultural income of this village…reports Sumit Yadav

“The water in our village is just poison. We can’t even cook our food using this water, forget drinking it,” says an exasperated Munni Devi, as she herds her buffaloes by a canal in her village.

Around 70 km from Lucknow, in Unnao district’s Sikanderpur Karan block, is the village of Gudsar. Residents here, like 48-year-old Munni Devi, are simply frustrated e frustrated that the lack of a basic necessity like drinking water can make their lives this miserable.

Harrowed residents resigned to fate

“We are poor people. We cannot afford to buy water. Whenever we have relatives coming over, we have to go fetch water from 2km away. Because of the smelly, polluted and rotten water in our village, relatives have almost stopped visiting us,” says Munni Devi, who lives with her family of eight e three sons and three daughters, and husband Ram Lal who works as a labourer.

Pointing at her buffaloes sitting in the water, she says, “Look at them. No matter how healthy a buffalo is, the water in our village will just make them sick and weak. If an animal won’t drink water properly, how is it supposed to stay healthy?”

Sitting next to her, Anita Devi says the water in their village barely ever quenches thirst.

“When we go outside the village somewhere, we drink lots of water because the water here just feels light,” she says.

Sitting in the veranda of his house, 62-year-old Dayaram Lodhi echoes their sentiments.

“The water never used to be like this,” Lodhi said. “The water started getting contaminated after the canal came up next to our village.”

Picking up a bottle of water, Lodhi adds, “What you see now is crystal clear water. Wait for a while, and this water turns completely yellow. It’s so polluted that even a metal bucket gets completely ruined.”

Lodhi, who has 15 members in his family who consume around 50 to 60 litres of water a day, says the quality of water started turning bad around 20 years ago. Another Gudsar resident Ram Prakash Verma echoes this claim.

“Once this canal came up, things changed. Earlier, the groundwater level wasn’t this bad either.”

As per a report of the State Water Resources Agency, in Uttar Pradesh, a total of 28 districts had a problem of arsenic contamination in groundwater, including Unnao. In March, 2019, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation had jointly filed an affidavit before NGT. The affidavit highlighted the arsenic affecting a population of 1.3 crores in Uttar Pradesh.

The 58-year-old, who owns roughly 2.5 acres of land, says farming had become increasingly difficult because of the water quality, which had deteriorated primarily due to fluoride and arsenic contamination.

Arsenic gets entry into the food chain through the use of pollutant-contaminated water for irrigation, and this plays a major role in deciding the agricultural income of this village.

“The wheat harvested last year was completely ruined. The level of chemicals in the canal water is so high that any form of vegetation simply dies. Not only is the quality of wheat and rice poor, the yield is also below average. We are forced to sell the harvest at low prices. The contamination has now seeped deep into the groundwater,” he says.

Yogendra Kumar, another resident of Gudsar, shows this reporter a plastic box.

“Because of the water here, the box has turned red. You can only imagine what the water could do to the human body,” says the 24-year-old, adding that there’s a good possibility that at least one or two members of each family in the village of 400 has some form of stone disease. “The pollution in the water here has only increased the occurrence of diseases among residents. Most people just stay sick after falling ill.”

Non-functional hand pumps

Criticising the inaction by authorities with regard to tackling this water crisis, Kumar says: “Whenever we complained to any authority, we only received false promises. There are around 15 high-quality hand pumps in the village, but none of them work. The water drawn from traditional hand pumps is simply awful. The RO plant set up here three years ago worked for first six months and then didn’t give one drop of water.”

Village pradhan Amresh Kumar, too, spoke about the RO plant: “Since it was a plant set up by the Uttar Pradesh government, the panchayat had no funds for it.”

In rural areas, the India-Mark hand pumps are supposed to be rebored. “But no such repair or reboring work has been done on the hand pumps,” says Amresh Kumar, adding that he was given charge of the village only recently.

For daily drinking purposes, residents of Gudsar rely on the hand pumps, which give out highly contaminated water. But villagers now say they are getting used to it.

“Who can afford to get tanker water every day? One can arrange for tankers for weddings and other functions, but for daily use, hand pumps are all we have,” says a villager.

Fluoride, arsenic contamination

Dr Alok Pandey, the physician at the Unnao district hospital said that the level of fluoride in water must not exceed 1.5mg/litre, while that of arsenic shouldn’t exceed 0.05mg/litre.

“If the fluoride level exceeds the permissible limit, it can prove fatal. Excess fluoride can lead to misshapen arms and legs, can cause weakness, fever and can also lead to various stomach and dental ailments,” he explains.

Incidentally, the arsenic level in Unnao district exceeds the 0.05mg/litre limit, as per National Green Tribunal (NGT) data. In July, 2014 a sample testing run by Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, identified 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Unnao as ‘severely toxic’ zones, based on the arsenic concentration in groundwater.

Mohit Chak, the superintendent engineer of the Unnao water department, says there are 53,816 hand pumps in Unnao, which has a population of over 25.7 lakh. In Sikanderpur Karan block, 26 RO plants were set up.

Asked about the condition of the RO plants in Sikanderpur Karan, Chak claims he did not have any knowledge regarding their non-functioning.

“Once I get information, work to get them repaired will be initiated,” he says, adding that of the 319 villages in the block, 76 were affected by excess fluoride.

“As many as 1,455 of the 4,355 villages in Unnao face issues related to excess fluoride in the water. Of these, 28 villages face TDS (total dissolved solids) pollution.”

Regarding provision of pure drinking water, the superintendent engineer said that the tender process for the central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission had yet to begin at the block level. The scheme aims to provide drinking water directly to every household by 2024, and Chak says the results of the scheme will start to show. However, keeping in view the serious health consequences, NGT in the order dated 28.01.2020 had set a deadline for completion of total remedial work by December, 2020.

As far as the Jal Jeevan Mission tender process is concerned, the official says it will be done by July and work for the same will begin thereafter.

Tanneries to blame

Local residents blame the various tanneries in the region for the contamination of the water. They insist that these tanneries, located in the industrial areas of Sikanderpur Karan block’s Banther, release chemicals in massive quantities into the canals near the villages. The water in these canals seep into the groundwater, further contaminating that, as well.

Rituraj Sahu, the managing director of the CETP (common effluent treatment plant) that filters contaminated water discharged by factories in the industrial area, says there are several factories and tanneries that release chemicals into nearby water bodies. To filter the chemical-laden water, Sahu says the CETP has a capacity of around 4.5 MLD (million litres per day).

“Currently, the plant filters around 1.5 MLD of contaminated water. None of it is released into the nearby canals of Banther,” Sahu claims.

However, as per a report of the Central Pollution Control Board, 35.42 MLD of contaminated water is released into this canal.

The NGT, too, had questioned the Uttar Pradesh government about “inadequate” progress in provision of drinking water.

Nevertheless, the situation on ground remains poor for villagers. People still have to fetch drinking water from over 2km away.

“The situation has now become such that people are refusing to get their daughters married to anyone from our village,” rued one villager.

ALSO READ-Water crisis all set to hit Pakistan

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-Top News EU News World News

EU to disburse 600 mn euros to counter world food crisis

This comes on top of an existing package of the EU’s 3 billion euros ($3.16 billion) for global food security, tweeted von der Leyen…reports Asian Lite News

The European Commission proposes to disburse 600 million euros ($633 million) on top of existing EU support to help regions hit by the current food crisis, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“To help our partners we will mobilise an additional 600 million euros ($633 million) to avoid a food crisis and an economic shock,” she added on Tuesday at the 2022 European Development Days.

The money will come from the European Development Fund, and will be used to support African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to counter the looming food crisis, Xinhua news agency reported.

The countries will receive 150 million euros ($158 million) for humanitarian assistance, 350 million euros ($369 million) for sustainable production and resilience of food systems, and 100 million euros ($105 million) in macro-economic support.

This comes on top of an existing package of the EU’s 3 billion euros ($3.16 billion) for global food security, tweeted von der Leyen.

Investments in food production and resilience of food systems are especially important, von der Leyen added.

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-Top News China

China’s hinterland hit by economic crisis

The health of the country’s smaller and local lenders, which typically are outside any stringent monitoring system, has caused alarm…reports Mahua Venkatesh

An unprecedented cash crisis is emerging in China’s hinterland.

Deposits of several rural banks have remained frozen for more than a month now. These banks are Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank, Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank, Shangcai Huimin County Bank, and New Oriental Country Bank of Kaifeng. Such a drastic move could be a precursor to a larger economic challenge, foreign policy watchers said.

“The cash crisis emerging at four rural banks in the central Chinese province of Henan is every saver’s worst nightmare,” South China Morning Post said, adding that pictures and videos of protesters with banners demanding “return our money” have been circulating.

The health of the country’s smaller and local lenders, which typically are outside any stringent monitoring system, has caused alarm.

Why?


They have been traditionally lending to the small and medium companies that have been worst impacted by the stringent zero Covid approach of the government.

China’s rural banks have acquired a greater degree of importance under Chinese President Xi Jinping. These banks have been responsible for boosting rural consumption and growth. Many of these small and medium firms have been export-driven. “These companies have become very vulnerable with the dwindling of the export market and choking of the supply-chain network. In turn there is a rising bad debt level in these banks, which has escaped notice,” an analyst said.

However, these banks, which have been facing headwinds since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in 2020 and the slowing of the economy, remain vulnerable with high levels of bad debts. “These banks have not managed to recover from the 2020 impact,” the analyst added.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that restrictions on withdrawals have been placed.

In July, 2020, the Communist Party of China had imposed restrictions on cash withdrawals from banks in the Hebei province amid a sharp rise in non-performing assets (loans that turn unproductive). The exercise, which had been taken up as a pilot project, had sent panic waves.

Amid deepening economic crisis, last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addressed an unprecedented national video teleconference aimed at stabilising the economy and boosting business sentiments. The move is clearly an indication that the world’s second largest economy is slipping into a panic mode.

Li in his address said that the shocks in several macroeconomic indicators which include employment generation, industrial production, are greater than those experienced during the Covid 19 pandemic outbreak.

In April China’s unemployment rate stood at 6.1 per cent-the highest since February 2020. In March it was 5.8 per cent. Since January the unemployment rate in the world’s second largest economy has been inching upward.

China posted an economic growth of 4.8 per cent in the January to March period of this year but macro economic indicators in the second quarter clearly reflect a worrisome picture for the world’s second largest economy.

While the country has set a growth target of 5.5 per cent for the current year, most economists have indicated that Beijing will fall short of the magic number.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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Business India News

India to ramp up wind and solar energies amid coal crisis

The experts said that it is counter-intuitive that the government is actually looking to auction new mines, re-open old mines and old thermal power plants, which will not only create stranded assets but exacerbate climate change…reports Vishal Gulati

Amidst the coal crisis where the Centre has invoked an emergency law to operate idle coal import-based utilities, energy transition experts believe the electricity generation for 1.35 billion people based on expensive imported coal for blending is commercially unviable — both high and inflationary.

They say combined with the global pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war, which has increased coal prices internationally, it should be a death knell for coal.

The time to ramp up wind and solar is now so that India is prepared to deal with a warming world.

Heatwaves are sweeping across India, with March recording the hottest in 122 years, resulting in high energy demand touching 207GW in April-end, the worst crisis in over six years. Demand is far exceeding supply resulting in power outages by state DISCOMs.

With imported coal prices at an all-time high, DISCOMs are wary of buying expensive power.

The experts told  that it is counter-intuitive that the government is actually looking to auction new mines, re-open old mines and old thermal power plants, which will not only create stranded assets but exacerbate climate change.

Rather it should be looking at better energy planning, and diversifying the energy mix keeping in mind emissions, global disruptions and the inflationary nature of fossil fuels.

Power Ministry officials say the installed capacity of electric grid is close to 340 GW. Seventy per cent of this is coal powered. There isn’t enough supply is what is being said. The reality is there isn’t adequate planning due to which coal transport is delayed and power generators can’t transmit power in time.

No more coal mines are needed in reality although Union Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi last week proposed to sell 20 abandoned mines with extractable reserves at 380 million tonne, with an intention to extract 30-40 million tonne.

The reason for opting the dirtiest fossil fuel is that India, world’s third largest energy consumer with electricity demand growing by 4.7 per cent each year, is going to be tough to put new money into renewable energy.

But experts believe this is exactly what needs to be done with the pathway that the coal sector is facing investor challenges on funding, challenges on logistics and planning, as well as volatility in prices.

“Frequent climate extremes and power shocks only indicate how much climate action and energy transition needs are intertwined and affected by not just domestic events but also regional and international tremors,” Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) India Policy Director Martand Shardul said.

“Stocking coal through increased domestic production and imports might yield relief, however, these exigencies demand a rapid shift to clean energy and enhanced renewable energy investments to boost social good, planetary health, and economic resilience.”

Sounding a cautionary note, International Institute for Sustainable Development Policy Advisor Balasubramanian Viswanathan said: “In the midst of the power shortage crisis, we need to take whatever short-term measures are available to keep the fans on. But some interventions have medium- and long-term implications, and here we must be very careful.

“We absolutely must not make new investments in our coal-dependent power system, which will just contribute to worse crises in the future. From a purely financial perspective, there is also a big risk of stranded assets. The government should instead drive investments at scale in renewable power and further incentivise grid-balancing technology, including battery storage.”

Believing India needs to aggressively invest in renewables — from 10-12 GW per year to 35-36 GW per year, WRI India, Energy Program, Director Bharath Jairaj said: “If we are to meet the 2030 target of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity, we have to aggressively support investments in energy storage and re-introduce favourable regulatory conditions for rooftop and behind-the-metre investments in renewable energy.”

It is not a shortage of coal, says Aarti Khosla, Director with New Delhi-based Climate Trends.

“Neither is it a shortage of power capacity. Combined with the global pandemic, and the Ukraine-Russia war, which has increased coal prices internationally, it should be a death knell for coal but ironically it is our only option to bring more power on immediately. The time to ramp up wind and solar is now so that we are prepared to deal with a warming world,” Khosla told IANS.

Sunil Dahiya, analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), said it is time to ditch the dirty and embark on an accelerated energy transition journey for true energy security.

“Generation based on expensive imported coal or gas or buying expensive power at exchange is commercially unviable. DISCOMs should buy cheaper renewable energy and supplement it with flexible generation sources,” added Vibhuti Garg, an Energy Economist (Lead India) with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

ALSO READ-Coal, Korba and climate, a case study for India’s energy transition

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-Top News UK News

Experts slam Boris for putting Britain in crisis

Boris Johnson became “the great debaser in modern times of decency in public and political life” after he was fined by police for attending a social gathering, said a member of the upper house of parliament..reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has thrust Britain into a constitutional crisis by breaking the law he set for pandemic restrictions, effectively “shredding the ministerial code”, the country’s leading constitutional expert said on Sunday.

Peter Hennessy, a historian and member of the upper house of parliament, said Johnson had become “the great debaser in modern times of decency in public and political life” after he was fined by police for attending a social gathering in Downing Street while lockdown restrictions were in place.

The ministerial code sets out the standards of conduct expected of ministers and how they discharge their duties, according to the government website.

Johnson has been accused of misleading parliament over the matter by opposition lawmakers after he told parliament last year that all rules were followed in Downing Street during the pandemic. He will appear in the House of Commons on Tuesday to explain why he was fined by police.

He has also apologised after he became the first British leader found to have broken the law while in office. Police are investigating further gatherings and he could receive further fines.

“I think we’re in the most severe constitutional crisis involving a prime minister that I can remember,” Hennessy told BBC Radio, asking why anyone in public life would adhere to the rules when the prime minister did not.

“The prime minister sealed his place in British history as the first lawbreaker to have occupied the premiership,” he said, adding that he was no longer worthy of serving the queen or her country.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a minister in Johnson’s cabinet, said he respected Hennessy but did not think the constitutional expert had fully understood the constitutional significance of the ministerial code.

Johnson, he said, had told parliament in good faith that he had not broken any rules, because he did not believe he had.

“It is very hard to see that he could meet the high bar of deliberately misleading parliament,” Rees-Mogg told the BBC. “So I think Lord Hennessy, who is one of the most distinguished living constitutionalists, is on this occasion wrong.”

ALSO READ-Boris to discuss ties amid ‘threats from autocratic States’ with Modi

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Economy

‘Sword of Damocles’ hangs over global economy’

The index that measures changes in the international prices of a basket of food commodities hit 140.7 in February, an all-time high in real terms since 1961…reports Asian Lite News

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that “a sword of Damocles hangs over the global economy” because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, adding that developing countries were most at risk.

Calling the war “an assault on the world’s most vulnerable people and countries”, Guterres on Monday drew a dismal picture of the global situation.

“Food, fuel and fertilizer prices are skyrocketing. Supply chains are being disrupted. And the costs and delays of transportation of imported goods e when available e are at record levels.

“The FAO’s (Food and Agriculture Organisation’s) global food prices index is at its highest level ever,” the UN chief said,adding that and all these could portend political instability and unrest around the world.

The index that measures changes in the international prices of a basket of food commodities hit 140.7 in February, an all-time high in real terms since 1961.

Gutteres also announced the formation of a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat to deal with these threats.

“We will be consulting with Member States willing to champion the actions needed to carry forward the global emergency response that will be required for these looming crises.

“This war goes far beyond Ukraine” hitting the recovery from the two-year onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Even before the conflict, developing countries were struggling to recover from the pandemic e with record inflation, rising interest rates and looming debt burdens (and) their ability to respond has been erased by exponential increases in the cost of financing.

“Now their breadbasket is being bombed. Russia and Ukraine represent more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 per cent of the world’s wheat,” he added.

ALSO READ-India’s semiconductor hub dream looms over Ukraine crisis

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-Top News World News

WHO: Covid Exposes Unequal World

The GPMB report called for a renewed global social contract for health emergencies that works collectively, across countries, sectors, and communities…reports Asian Lite News.

Covid-19 “has exposed a broken world that is inequitable, unaccountable, and divided”, resulting in its failure to put an end to the pandemic that has so far killed 4.95 million globally, according to a report by a World Health Organisation (WHO) panel on Tuesday.

The report was launched by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent body set up by the WHO and the World Bank in 2018 to prepare for pandemics, in Berlin.

It stated that from the time the pandemic began, almost two years ago, the world continues to “struggle” to mitigate its impact.

While in the first year, countries “collectively failed” to take serious preparations and act rapidly, in the second they exhibited “profound inequality” as the world leaders failed to interconnect, making “the world more interdependent than ever”.

The world continues to be “fragmented by growing nationalism, geopolitical tensions, and deep inequalities”, said the report.

“As of October 2021, as many as 17 million people will have died due to Covid-19. More than 1.5 million children around the world have lost a parent or a grandparent… Behind each death, there is a human story, a loss of potential, and an enormous gap left in a community… While this disaster should have brought us together, instead we are divided, fragmented, and living in worlds apart,” said Elhadj As Sy, Co-Chair at GPMB, in the report.

Although the speed of vaccine development is a matter of pride, but “we must feel deep shame over multiple tragedies — vaccine hoarding, the devastating oxygen shortages in low-income countries, the generation of children deprived of education, the shattering of fragile economies and health systems”, he added.

The GPMB report called for a renewed global social contract for health emergencies that works collectively, across countries, sectors, and communities.

It also framed an action plan to help build a world prepared for future pandemics. The plan includes building a strong WHO with greater resources, authority, and accountability; creating an agile health emergency system that can deliver on equity; and establishing a collective financing mechanism for preparedness.

“We must reject pessimism, recognise our common humanity and growing interdependence, and create a global health ecosystem that serves everyone. Together we must move from worlds apart to a world prepared,” As Sy said.

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Afghanistan UK News World News

UK parliament to reconvene over Afghanistan crisis

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also held an emergency COBRA meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Downing Street has said…reports Asian Lite News.

The UK Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday from their summer recess to debate the British government’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan as Taliban has captured Kabul and entered the Presidential Palace, the House of Commons confirmed.

MPs will return to Westminster for a session from 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. over the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of US, British and NATO troops, reports Xinhua news agency.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also held an emergency COBRA meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Downing Street has said.

COBRA is shorthand for the Civil Contingencies Committee that is convened to handle matters of national emergency or major disruption.

After the meeting, Johnson told reporters that the US decision to pull out of Afghanistan has “accelerated things”, and added “no one wants Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for terror”.

The UK has deployed 600 troops to Afghanistan to help evacuate British nationals and local interpreters.

British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace on August 13 had said the US decision to pull its troops out of Afghanistan was a “mistake”, which has handed the Taliban “momentum” in the country.

“Of course I am worried, it is why I said I felt this was not the right time or decision to make because, of course, Al Qaeda will probably come back, certainly would like that type of breeding ground,” he told Sky News.

After days of capturing provincial capital cities, the Taliban started entering Kabul from all sides on Sunday morning.

Though the Taliban had earlier said that there is no plan to enter the Afghan capital militarily, the security vacuum in Kabul made them direct their fighters to enter and occupy the empty police outposts and police districts.

As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani along with his close aides and the first lady left Kabul for Tajikistan, the Taliban also managed to enter the Presidential Palace or Arg.

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-Top News Afghanistan USA

Will keep pressure on IS, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: US General

The top US official’s remarks come as the Taliban have intensified attacks since the official withdrawal of US troops….reports Asian Lite News

Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of the US Central Command, has said that Washington will seek to “keep pressure” on the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda terror groups in Afghanistan, a media report said on Monday.

“We will still do everything we can to keep pressure on the IS and Al Qaeda, from our over-the-horizon locations,” TOLO News quoted quoted McKenzie as saying in an interview with Military Times.

“That is a task I’ve been given. Those are plans I’m in discussion with now with the Secretary of Defense. How we will do that, I’ve said before, that will be a very difficult thing to do,” he added.

Regarding a recent UN report warning that the Taliban appeared poised to take back control of Afghanistan, McKenzie said: “We still intend to support the Afghan military from just over the horizon. We’re still going to support them with funding.

“We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon; some things will come out of the country to be worked on.

“I don’t want to minimise this, because I think they’re going to be tested, but we will continue to support them, just not in the way we are supporting them now.”

ALSO READ: The way forward for Afghanistan

Asked if the US would provide any combat support to Afghan forces if major cities such as Kabul were at risk of being overrun, McKenzie said: “Those are actually policy decisions, not military decisions. Right now what we’re planning to do after we withdraw is keep pressure on Al Qaeda and IS, and that would be what we’d be doing, going back into Afghanistan.”

The top US official’s remarks come as the Taliban have intensified attacks on provincial capitals, districts, bases and checkpoints since the official withdrawal of the US and other NATO troops in Afghanistan on May 1.

At least 15 districts have fallen to the Taliban since May 1, leading to the displacement of tens of thousands of Afghans.

According to a UN report, the Taliban were able to capture five districts in the past year, four of which were recaptured by the government within several days.

The withdrawal of international troops is due to be completed by September 11 at the latest.

ALSO READ: Blackout in Afghanistan as power pylon destroyed in blast

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-Top News Asia News Europe

Aid continues to pour in from East Asia, Europe

Continuing to stand beside its partner India, Japan flew in 2 aircraft of life-saving equipment that included oxygen concentrators, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)…reports Asian Lite News.

Global aid continues to pour in as India battles a massive second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Major consignments of medical supplies and equipment were received from South Korea, Japan, France, Italy and UK on Thursday, including oxygen concentrators, ventilators and rapid testing kits.

Continuing to stand beside its partner India, Japan flew in 2 aircraft of life-saving equipment that included oxygen concentrators, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Aid from Britain (MEA)

“Cooperation with Japan continues. 2 aircrafts carrying a total consignment of 100 oxygen concentrators arrive from Japan. 4 aircrafts in 2 days from Japan have delivered a cumulative of 200 oxygen concentrators. Appreciate this continuing support from our partner Japan,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

Another East Asian partner, the Republic of Korea, sent a shipment of 10,000 rapid testing kits that were received by India on Thursday.

“Our continuing cooperation with Republic of Korea. Welcome the shipment of 10,000 rapid testing kits from Republic of Korea that arrived today,” said another tweet by the Bagchi.

Republic of Korea gifts 200 oxygen concentrators (Photo:MEA)

Two ISO containers arranged by France and facilitated by Qatar on board INS Trikand also reached Mumbai.

“A partnership across the seas brings tangible benefits on ground 2 ISO containers arranged by France, facilitated by Qatar & transported by @indiannavy on #INSTrikand reach Mumbai (India). Kasturba Hospital, Mumbai receives LMO. Others to also benefit,” the MEA Spokeperson’s tweet said.

A gift of 1,200 oxygen cylinders from British Oxygen Company arrived from UK on Thursday. This is in addition to the 1,350 oxygen cylinders that arrived from the UK on Tuesday. This is part of UK’s generous contribution of 5,000 oxygen cylinders.

“Welcome the gift of another 1200 oxygen cylinders from British Oxygen Company that arrived from the UK today. Appreciate the logistical support from Qatar Airways for this shipment,” the MEA Spokesperson mentioned.

Government of India has been receiving international donations and aid of COVID-19 relief medical supplies and equipment since April 27 from different countries and organisations to augment its efforts in fighting the unprecedented surge in COVID in the country, said an official statement from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Cumulatively, 9,294 Oxygen Concentrators; 11,835 Oxygen Cylinders; 19 Oxygen Generation Plants; 6,439 ventilators/Bi PAP; nearly 4.22 L Remdesivir vials delivered/ dispatched through road and air, from April 27 to May 12.

Major consignments received on Thursday from Kuwait, Singapore, Gilead, Switzerland, Spain and Egypt included 86,595 vials of anti-viral Remdesivir, 4,802 oxygen cylinders, 10 oxygen concentrators and 141 Ventilator/ BiPAP/ CPAP.

Effective immediate allocation, and streamlined delivery to the recipient states/UTs and institutions is an ongoing exercise.

The Union Health Ministry is comprehensively monitoring this on a regular basis. A dedicated Coordination Cell has been created in the Union Health Ministry to coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign COVID relief material as grants, aid and donations.

This cell started functioning from April 26 this year. A Standard Operating Procedure has been framed and implemented by the Health Ministry since May 2. (INN)

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