THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 24 DECEMBER 2020 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR DAS ASKS BANKS TO STRENGTHEN LENDING CAPACITY LENIN’S LEGACY P6 Mainly clear sky. Moderate to dense fog in the morning. Cold wave conditions at isolated pockets. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 23 and 04 degrees Celsius respectively. P9 PAGD sweeps maiden J&K DDC polls with 110 seats; BJP gets 75 seats, is single largest party RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min: 49% SP SHARMA Min: 4.0°C (-4) SUN SETS 17:31 hrs MOON SETS 02:43 hrs T JAMMU, 23 DECEMBER TEMPERATURE Max: 23.3°C (+2) SUN RISES 07:12 hrs MOON RISES 13:46 hrs P8 DDC polls: People of J&K have spoken, says Omar WEATHER Max: 100% ‘PRACHANDA’ NOW RULING PARTY’S NEW CHAIRMAN THUMBNAILS Farmers during their protest against the Centre’s farm laws at Singhu Border, in the SNS Capital on Wednesday. Cabinet nod for revised DTH service guidelines: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved revision in guidelines for providing direct to home (DTH) services in the country under which licenses would be issued for 20 years, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said. He said the change in guidelines would also allow 100 per cent FDI in the DTH sector. While the Commerce Ministry had spoken of 100 per cent FDI in the DTH sector, the guidelines of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry needed to be changed. '11 passengers of 4 UK flights test Covid +ve at Delhi airport': Eleven passengers on four flights from the UK were found positive for Covid-19 when tested on arrival at the Delhi airport, said Gauri Agarwal, founder of the Genestrings Diagnostic Center, on Wednesday. Genestrings is handling coronavirus testing of all passengers at the Delhi airport. Agarwal said 50 passengers of these four flights have been put under institutional quarantine. Two IFFCO officials dead, 16 injured in UP ammonia gas leak he People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) swept the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls by winning 110 seats, while the BJP emerged as the single largest party by getting 75 seats after securing the largest vote share in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday. Amid Union minister Jitendra Singh interpreting the DDC results as acceptance of BJP as pan-Jammu and Kashmir party, a Twitter war has broken out with the Gupkar Alliance leader Omar Abdullah claiming that “we” have received strong support in both J&K. The results of two constituencies-one each in Bandipora and Kupwara districts of north Kashmir - are still awaited as counting of votes has been deferred there till further orders, they said. The PAGD was upbeat after winning 24 seats in Jammu, whereas the BJP managed only 4 in the Kashmir Valley. Besides, the Congress bagged 16 seats in the Jammu division. Reacting to BJP’s claim of having emerged as the single largest party, Omar tweeted; “It’s amusing to see the desperation of the BJP propaganda wallas. Yesterday it was about 3 seats in the valley & today it’s about being the single largest party. They aren’t even embarrassed about making comparisons with @JKNC which contested far fewer seats due to an alliance”. Singh tweeted: “BJP has emerged as single largest party in #JammuAndKashmir and registered its presence in all the regions. A vote to be part of development journey led by PM SH @narendramodi”. A top Congress leader P Chidambaram also jumped into the war of words and tweeted; “Undeterred by the denial of democratic rights, the voters of the Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its misguided Kashmir policy. I compliment the voters for their courage and resolve”. Gupkar Alliance leaders Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti called their lead in the DDC elections an endorsement of their fight for restoration of the Article 370 that was abrogated last year by the Modi government. In a series of tweets, these leaders thanked the people for the confidence expressed in the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). Omar Abdullah tweeted; "The people have endorsed this alliance and we now have the mandate to continue to fight for what we started with, which is our opposition to the changes made on august 5, 2019". "The @JKPAGD is an alliance that emerged out of the betrayal of the people of J&K on 5th Aug 2019. We have faced every obstacle - illegal detentions, agency threats & pressures, our candidates were locked up to stop them campaigning & from all this we are emerging victorious". "The trends that have emerged in the DDC polls in J&K are very encouraging for the @JKPAGD. The BJP had made this election a prestige issue about Art 370 & J&K’s special status. The people have now spoken & it’s for those who believe in democracy to pay heed to these voices". "All of us in the @JKPAGD are deeply indebted & grateful to the people of J&K for your support at this critical juncture. We reaffirm our commitment to use all democratic & legal weapons at our disposal to continue to fight for our rights". PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “DDC results have made it clear that people of J&K voted en masse for @JKPAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370. They have overwhelmingly supported @JKPAGD which stands for restoration of J&Ks special status". "Our win is dedicated to PAGD cadre who worked tirelessly to ensure our success. GOI left no stone unturned to create hurdles for us. Beginning with @parawahid's arrest a day after he filed his DDC nominations, restricting our movement & not allowing us to campaign". In another tweet Mehbooba said; "I was illegally detained thrice over the course of a fortnight. PAGD candidates were locked up in a government building while others barred from canvassing. Despite all these obstacles PAGD emerged as winners. This has been a hard earned victory for all us". "Even after a split in PDP engineered by GOI & all the attempts to write us off, my cadre worked day & night to ensure party’s victory. I am extremely grateful to them", she added. Two Pakistan-occupied Kashmir nationals (PoK), who are married to former militants, are among the contestants from the Dragmulla constituency in Kupwara and Hajin-A in Bandipora and the state election commissioner has directed the returning officers concerned to defer the counting of votes in the two constituencies till further orders, the officials said. Among the PAGD constituents, the National Conference won the highest number of 67 seats, followed by PDP (27), People's Conference (eight), CPI(M) five and J&K Peoples Movement (three), getting a total share of over 3.94 lakh votes together. ADELAIDE ROUT IS ANALYSED P12 Send concrete proposals, not love letters: Farmers PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 23 DECEMBER Hardening their position, protesting farmer unions on Wednesday asked the government not to repeat the proposal of “meaningless” amendments that they have already rejected but come up with a “concrete” offer in writing for the resumption of talks. Reading out a reply to the government's talks offer during a press conference, farmers leaders said that they are ready for dialogue with an open mind if they get a concrete proposal, but made it clear they will not accept anything less than a complete repeal of the three agriculture laws and legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP). Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said that if the government takes one step, farmers will take two, and asked it to stop writing “love letters”. All India Kisan Sabha leader Hannan Molla alleged that the government wanted to tire out the farmers out so that the protest would end. In a letter to Union Agriculture Joint Secretary Vivek Aggarwal, Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 unions protesting at several Delhi border points for the last 27 days, alleged that the government is treating the farmers as its “political opponents”. “We have already told Home Minister Amit Shah that protesting farmers will not accept amendments,” farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka told reporters, after a meeting of union leaders that lasted for over three hours. “Farmer unions are ready to hold talks with the government and that they are waiting for the government to come to the table with an open mind,” said Yadav, who is also a member of Morcha. He alleged that the Union government is holding parallel talks with farmer unions that have no relation with the protest and termed it as an attempt to derail the ongoing agitation against the three farm laws. “We urge you (government) not to repeat those meaningless amendments that we have already rejected but come up with a concrete proposal in writing that can become an agenda for fresh talks,” Yadav said while reading out the reply sent to the Centre's letter dated December 20. “We are surprised that the government is not able to understand our basic objections. Representatives of farmers have demanded a complete repeal of these farm laws...but the government wants to cleverly project our demands for amendments. “In our previous talks, we have clearly told the government that they don't want amendments,” Morcha said in its letter. Yadav alleged that government wants to project that the farmers are not ready to hold talks, adding that the ball is in the government's court as peasants are ready for the same, but only after a concrete proposal. Kakka said that the government should “abandon its stubbornness” and accept the demands of farmers. India logs 23,950 new cases; Army chief visits forward posts in recoveries surge to 96.63 lakh eastern Ladakh amid border impasse NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW, 23 DECEMBER SNS & PTI Two IFFCO officials died and its 16 other employees were injured in a major ammonia gas leak at the fertilizer major's plant at Phulpur near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, the firm said on Wednesday. The gas leakage that took place on Tuesday night around 10.30 pm, however, was restricted and stopped in a short time, the fertilizer cooperative major said in a statement. The two persons who died in the accident were identified as IFFCO Deputy Manager Abhay Nandan and Assistant Manager V P Singh. Out of the 16 injured IFFCO employees, including three contract labourers, two have been discharged while 14 others are undergoing treatment in different hospitals, the firm said. IFFCO said the accident took place as tie rods of an ammonia plunger pump suddenly broke and got detached leading to heavy ammonia leakage. Following the leakage, IFFCO ordered a technical investigation into the cause of the gas leakage while Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also ordered an administrative probe into the accident. “We deeply regret the sad and unfortunate accident happened yesterday night around 10.30 pm due to mechanical failure at #IFFCO #Phulpur Ammonia Urea unit in #Prayagraj. Our employees at the site fought bravely to handle the situation,” IFFCO CEO and Managing Director U S Awasthi tweeted on Wednesday. “Our emergency response group fought with the emergency situation and restricted the leakage to small area within the plant,” the IFFCO later said.PTI Covid-19 caseload rose to 1,00,99,066 with 23,950 new infections being reported in a day, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 96.63 lakh, accordingto the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. The death toll increased to 1,46,444 with 333 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. Thenumber of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 96,63,382 pushing the national recovery rate to95.69 per cent,while theCOVID-19casefatality ratestands at 1.45 per cent. The COVID-19 active caseload remained below 3 lakh for the second consecutive day. There are 2,89,240active cases of coronavirus infection NEW DELHI, 23 DECEMBER in the country whichcomprises2.86per cent of the total caseload, the data stated. India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7,30 lakhonAugust 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and50 lakh onSeptember 16.It went past60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh onOctober 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh onNovember 20 andsurpassed theone-crore mark on December 19. According to the ICMR,16,42,68,721 samples have been tested up toDecember 22 with 10,98,164 samples being tested on Tuesday. The 333 new fatalities include 75 from Maharashtra, 38from West Bengal, 27 from Kerala and 25 from Delhi. A total of 1,46,444 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 48,876 from Maharashtra. SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 23 DECEMBER 1009906 289240 23950 26895 146444 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESDAY 23 DECEMBER 2020 Army chief Gen MM Naravane on Wednesday visited various high-altitude forward areas in eastern Ladakh and reviewed India's overall military preparedness as the tense border standoff with China in the region prolonged for over seven months, the Army and official sources said. The Army said Gen Naravane visited the forward areas including Rechin La and undertook a first-hand assessment of the situation along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) in Ladakh. Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero temperatures. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials. Lt Gen PGK Menon, the commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, popularly known as 'Fire and Fury' Corps, briefed the Army chief on various aspects of the situation in eastern Ladakh. Sources said Gen Naravane reached Ladakh at 8:30 am on a day-long visit with an aim to review the ground situation in the region that is experiencing harsh winter. “General MM Naravane #COAS visited forward areas of #FireandFury Corps including Rechin La and undertook a first-hand assessment of the situation along the LAC. He was briefed by #GOC #FireandFury Corps and other local commanders on the operational preparedness of our forces,” the Army tweeted. The Army said Gen Nar- avane interacted with the troops deployed in forward areas and exhorted them to continue working with the same “zeal and enthusiasm”. He also distributed sweets and cakes ahead of Christmas. Around three-and-half months ago, Indian troops had occupied a number of strategic heights in the Mukhpari, Rechin La and Magar hill areas around the southern bank of the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh after the Chinese People's Liberation Army(PLA) attempted to intimidate them in the area on the intervening night of August 29 and 30. “General MM Naravane #COAS undertook on the spot inspection of the state of #habitat of troops on the forward line of defences at #RechinLa. He appreciated the efforts made by the formation to make troops comfortable along the #LAC,” the Army said in another tweet. It said the Army chief also visited the forward base of Tara and interacted with the local commanders and troops. He appreciated their high morale and state of readiness. The military face-off erupted on May 5 following violent clashes between the Indian army and the PLA in the Pangong lake area. The clashes were followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9. Last week, India and China held another round of diplomatic talks during which they agreed to continue work towards ensuring complete disengagement of troops in all friction points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh at the “earliest”. Lack of funding hampering marine research: UNESCO’s IOC report RAMAN PANDIT NEW DELHI, 23 DECEMBER The lack of funding is hampering the development and implementation of marine research, according to the Second Global Ocean Science Report published by the UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). The report has been released ahead of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. On an average, states devote only 1.7 per cent of their research budgets to sciences of the ocean (0.03 percent to 11.8 per cent, depending on the country), much less than they spend on other major scientific fields, the report states, adding that it was “incomprehensible” considering the fundamental role of the oceans in regulating the climate and its rich biodiversity. The report says that the discoveries in oceanography feed almost all sectors of the economy and society with applications in medicine, in the preservation of biodiversity, and in the development of new industrial processes. "Our knowledge of the oceans is a key element for the future of humanity," said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General. Azoulay said: “The Global Ocean Science Report 2020 underlines the essential role of ocean research and international cooperation for all key issues of the 21st century." The report states that the budgets for ocean science vary considerably from country to country and over time. "Between 2013 and 2017, 14 countries increased their average budget, with the Russian Federation recording the highest annual growth (over 10 per cent), followed by the UK and Bulgaria, while nine countries reduced expenditure, in some cases signif- icantly, Japan, Ecuador, Turkey, Brazil and Italy among them," it says. Moreover, while the international community committed to controlling the exploitation of ocean resources by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the Agenda 2030, few have defined strategies to achieve this, the report points out. It highlights an increase in international collaboration among oceanographers and calls for the strengthening of South-South and NorthSouth partnerships. The report states that innovation, complemented by technology transfer, must play a fundamental role in helping developing states achieve sustainable marine and fisheries resource exploitation. In terms of human resources, the report also highlights the crucial need for training in the various areas of ocean management. It notes the underrepresentation of women, who account for 39 per cent of all oceanographers, an increase compared to the previous report, and 6 points higher than the percentage of women in the natural sciences overall. “This average nevertheless hides great disparities between countries, for example, women make up 63 per cent of oceanographic researchers in Croatia, compared to only 12 per cent in Japan,” report says. The report indicates that States are not sufficiently equipped to manage their information, which hinders free access. The sharing of data, as a common good of humanity, should be among the priorities of the UN Decade for Ocean Sciences, in relation to the UNESCO’s work towards an international legal instrument on open sciences, it adds. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO considers that the next report, due to be published in 2025, should include an evaluation of the impact of Covid on the human and technical capacities of ocean sciences. Ocean sciences encompass all research disciplines related to the study of the ocean -from physics and chemistry to the social sciences and humanities, biology, health, geology, hydrography, and more broadly all multidisciplinary research on the links between humanity and the ocean.
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