With the second wave of Covid proving to be more rampant and deadlier than the first, India’s medical infrastructure is being stretched to the point of collapse. Reports of shortages of everything abound - hospital beds, oxygen, critical drugs, and tragically even spaces for cremations.

Mojo Story brings you heart-rending and tragic scenes from a cremation site in Gujarat’s Surat. With over 100 cremations in a single day, the site has run out of space, and furnaces have melted, unable to take the incessant load. The Mojo story also talks to the families of the victims who tell the tale of woefully inadequate facilities at the government hospitals, including basic equipment like CT scans.

The suffering of the second wave could have been avoided, says The India Forum, by anticipating the second surge and speeding up the roll-out of vaccines in January this year. The government could have roped in supplies, either from overseas or by encouraging more domestic players, including the public sector. This they failed to do.

It is precisely on this point of bringing the PSUs into the vaccine stream that a special investigation by Down to Earth finds India has been found woefully wanting. In the past decade, India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity has been steadily going downhill with seven PSUs capable of producing vaccines in limbo. Last week, in view of the surge, there was a renewed effort to revive three of the dormant PSUs, but the fear is that, while it may be a step in the right direction, it may also be a case of too little, too late.

With casualty rates climbing, almost inevitably come a fresh bout of recommendations for alternate “remedies” which promise to counter the virus. Alt News fact-checked and found that not only are these not based on the dictates of science but may actually endanger the very lives they are ostensibly seeking to protect.

The Bastion reports that despite several interventions of the courts to address the issue of forest fires in Uttarakhand, the forest department persistently passes the buck for the forest fires on to the forest dwellers - Van Gujjars - making no effort to douse the flames. This “colonial” attitude restricts the forest communities and their livestock from accessing the areas earmarked for them and disrupts their traditional way of making a living off the forest.

For a selection of stories from our grantees this week, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Surat | 100 Cremations Done In A Single Day, Families Narrate Tragedy |

Mojo Story reports from a crematorium in Surat, Gujarat, where over a hundred bodies are cremated in a single day. The incessant cremations have melted the frames of the cremation furnaces as pyres are continuously lit through the day without respite. The story also chronicles the travails of the families of the victims.

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What has Gone Wrong with India’s Vaccination Programme?

The India Forum argues that If India had anticipated and prepared for the second Covid wave, which had afflicted several other nations, and rolled out vaccines at the beginning of this year, we would not be in the dire straits that we now find ourselves in.

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A dose of truth: The real story of India’s COVID-19 vaccination programme

A special investigation by Down to Earth finds that in the past decade or so, India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity has suffered with seven PSUs capable of producing vaccines not even functional. The Integrated Vaccine Complex in Tamil Nadu, established to provide vaccines needed for the country’s Universal Immunisation Programme, is also defunct. Recently the government has taken steps to revive three of the PSUs, but in the face of the dramatic surge would these steps come too late?

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Inhaling camphor, lavang, ajwain and eucalyptus oil DOES NOT increase blood oxygen level

Internet and social media have been abuzz with bogus remedies and diagnosis of Corona Virus (Covid-19), which can sometimes lead to loss of lives. Alt News checked facts on one such viral message, which has recently been doing the rounds on WhatsApp and Twitter, claiming that the vapour of camphor, lawang, ajwain and eucalyptus oil can increase the blood oxygen levels and relieve respiratory distress. The report helps debunk these misconceptions and points to the fact that this could be life-threatening sometimes.

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The Hidden Politics of Forest Fire Management in Uttarakhand: The Van Gujjar Experience

The Bastion delves deep into the forest fires in Uttarakhand and the politics playing out behind it. The report notes that despite several interventions of the High Court to address the forest fire issue, the forest department often blames the forest dwellers, Van Gujjars, for causing forest fires and make no concerted effort to control it. Access to grazing fields for Van Gujjars’ livestock and lopping of tree branches is denied, resulting in loss of livelihoods and dwellings.

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More from the grantees
Amid Strained Ties, ‘Invest in Turkey’ Billboards Surface in Srinagar
A spate of advertising hoardings asking Kashmiris to “Invest in Turkey” has come up in Srinagar, leaving locals puzzled as ties between India and Turkey are strained amid the latter’s diplomatic stance against India's position on Kashmir. Kashmir Observer reports.
A change in the abortion law puts women at the mercy of doctors again
Suno India breaks the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Bill, passed by Rajya Sabha recently, which has raised the upper gestational limits of the permissible abortion from 20 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
ചുറ്റും വെള്ളം: വൈപ്പിന് തൊണ്ട നനയാന്‍ ഒറ്റ തുള്ളിയില്ല! | Vypin Water Issue | Asiaville Quest
Asiaville reports from the ground on the acute shortage of drinking water in various parts of the Edavanakkad Panchayat on the Vypin Island in Kochi.
Reinforcing social welfare schemes to withstand crises
How a slew of measures announced during the first lockdown in India used the Public Distribution System in the country to cover welfare schemes proficiently and what other Social Protection (SP) schemes can learn from it, India Development Review reports.
How Can Mainstream Media Use Inclusive Language To Cover Menstruation Sensitively
Feminism In India explains why mainstream media must use inclusive language and evidence to report on menstruation, a usually neglected subject, sensitively.
The Extraordinary Lord Sinha Of Raipur
While all eyes are on West Bengal electioneering and poll, Live History India tells the scintillating tale of a village in Bengal that has a connection with the House of Lords in the UK.
बांदा: दुग्ध उत्पादन कर महिलाएं बन रहीं आत्मनिर्भर |
Khabar Lahariya focuses on the Banda district in Uttar Pradesh, where over a thousand women have become self-dependent through milk cooperative under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission. This, in turn, has inspired 60 other villages in the area to join.
MaxMaharashtra | मुठभर मातीसाठी कोरोना रुग्णाची मृत्यूनंतरही परवड
Max Maharashtra reports from Kalyan in Maharashtra, where people are struggling to get their Covid-deceased family members cremated.

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