Nitish Kumar
Nitish Kumar
(File Photo)

Patna: The Bihar Cabinet, which met here on Tuesday evening, has approved a proposal of the health department to facilitate free vaccination against COVID-19 to all citizens of the state. This was the first cabinet meeting of the Nitish Kumar-led ministry after the distribution of portfolios. The cabinet was sworn in on November 16.

Mangal Pandey of the BJP, who is the state health minister, said the department has made all preparations for the free vaccination and storage of vaccines in the district. Sadar hospitals have been arranged, Pandey told this correspondent, however, the date of the launch of free vaccination has not been decided upon so far.

Union Minister of State (MoS) for Health, Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, also a BJP MP from Buxar in Bihar, had reviewed the arrangements of storage and vaccination with the state officials during his two days stay here on Sunday.

Chaubey had said that every citizen would get two doses of vaccines in a month. Priority would be given to the ‘Corona warriors’ like doctors, nurses, members of the armed forces, and the senior citizens.

Chaubey claimed that the district magistrates had informed him that all arrangements for transportation and storage of vaccines from Pune to Patna and districts have been completed. On average, 100 people would be vaccinated daily at a booth, which would be like a polling booth. The registration for free vaccination would be done on the basis of 12 identity cards, including Aadhar and EPICs. In the first phase, Bihar is expected to receive seven lakh vaccines.

At a press conference here on October 22, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced, while releasing the BJP manifesto, free vaccination for all people in the then poll-bound state. The Election Commission of India (EC), in its order on October 31, had found that the BJP manifesto was not, in fact, a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

The EC in its order rejected the objections of the opposition parties and had observed that “the directive principles of the state policy enshrined in the Constitution enjoy upon the state to frame various welfare measures for the citizens.”

There can be no objection to the promise of such welfare measure (free vaccination) in the manifesto, the EC had defended the Ministers's announcement.

On Monday, 82 people got Covaxin shots in the third phase at AIIMS in Patna. So far, 206 people have got vaccination under the clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccines. In Bihar, around 2.43 lakh people were found to be COVID-positive.

The Cabinet also acted upon another poll promise — that of providing jobs to 19 lakh youth — and approved a proposal to create 20 lakh job opportunities in the next five years. It decided to give Rs 5 lakh as a grant to the youth for starting self-employment schemes for which 50% of the subsidy would be given by the state.

The Cabinet also decided to implement another election promise by announcing Rs 25,000 to every girl who passes the intermediate examination and Rs 50,000 to every girl with a graduate degree.

BJP's election promise to have technical education in Hindi medium was also approved by the Cabinet.

The Cabinet further approved a proposal of the Law Department to dismiss three members of higher judicial services, including two district and sessions judges who were earlier found guilty of violating prohibition rules and enjoying an unauthorised holiday in neighbouring Nepal. They were posted at Araria, bordering Nepal. The Patna High Court had conducted investigations against them and found the charges to be true.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said that the cabinet would be expanded after he received recommendations from the BJP.

“I have not received the list from the BJP so far,” he said. At present, there are 14 ministers in the Nitish Kumar ministry and 16 more can be inducted according to the Constitutional provisions.

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Free Press Journal