CMYK FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 05 MARCH 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘INDIA COMMITTED TO CONNECTIVITY WITH AFGHANISTAN, C.ASIA’ SUU KYI IN COURT P6 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature most likely to be around 35 °C and 23 °C respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max. 86% TEMPERATURE THUMBNAILS Central force personnel patrol at Manicktala area in Kolkata on Thursday. SNS EPFO retains 8.5 pc interest on EPF deposits: Retirement fund body EPFO on Thursday decided to retain 8.5 per cent annual rate of interest on provident fund deposits for the current financial year for its more than five crore active subscribers. The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation's (EPFO) apex decision-making body Central Board of Trustees decided to fix 8.5 per cent rate of interest for 2020-21 at its meeting in Srinagar on Thursday. As per the practice, the CBT decision on interest rate would be send to P8 the finance ministry for concurrence. Give priority in admissions to elderly, SC directs: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed that elderly people be given priority in admissions at private hospitals besides at government medical institutions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. A bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy modified its earlier order of 4 August, 2020, by which it had directed only government hospitals to give priority in admission and treatment of elderly people looking at their vulnerability P5 to coronavirus. NEW DELHI/AGRA, 4 MARCH The Taj Mahal complex in Agra was vacated on Thursday morning following a hoax bomb call, police said. The caller, identified as Vimal Kumar Singh, has been detained for questioning in Firozabad, Additional Director General (ADG) of Police, Agra zone, A Satish Ganesh said. Singh called the 112 emergency response number of the Uttar Pradesh police around 9 a.m. and claimed a bomb was kept inside the monument that is conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and protected by armed personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The police immediately informed the CISF personnel, who asked the visitors to vacate the premises of the iconic 17th-century monument and launched anti-sabotage checks around 9:15 am. Nothing suspicious was found during the checks at the monument, a CISF officer said in Delhi. An initial probe revealed that Singh is a resident of Patiyali in Kasganj and was presently staying in his maternal grandmother’s house in Okhra village in the Narkhi area of Firozabad, the ADG said. “Prima facie it seems that Singh is mentally ill and is probably under treatment. The Taj Mahal was reopened for visitors after about an hour and 45 minutes,” he added.PTI P4 P11 Rising Covid-19 curve Bengaluru, Shimla alarming; 17.4 K new ‘most liveable’ cities SNS & PTI Max: 34.2°C (2) Min: 20.0°C (-1) SUN RISES SUN SETS 05:55 hrs 17:41 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 22:57 hrs 09:29 hrs Next moon quarter on 06 March Taj Mahal vacated after hoax bomb call; caller detained P5 Delhi figures at 13th spot, Srinagar at bottom in Govt’s Ease of Living Index Min. 28% POLLARD HITS SIX SIXES IN AN OVER SASIKALA QUITS ACTIVE POLITICS TO FIGHT DMK STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 4 MARCH engaluru was adjudged the most liveable among 111 cities in India in the government’s ‘Ease of Living Index’ on Thursday, followed by Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Coimbatore, Vadodra, Indore and Greater Mumbai. Of the 49 cities ranked on livability index in the ‘million-plus population’ category, Delhi figures at the 13th spot and Srinagar at the bottom. According to the index released by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Shimla topped the category of cities with ‘population less than million’. In this category, Bhubaneshwar was ranked second, Silvassa came third, and they were followed by Kakinada, Salem, Vellore, Gandhinagar, Gurgaon, Davangere and Tiruchirapalli. Muzaffarpur was at the bottom of the list of 62 cities that were ranked on livability index in the ‘less than million population’ category. Ghaziabad and Meerut figured at the 30th and the 36th spot in the ‘million-plus population’ category respectively, while Allahabad is at the 32nd position and is followed by Patna (33rd). Faridabad is ranked 40th in this category. Performance of the cities have been measured on four broad parameters governance and social, physical and economic infrastructure. The government said the ‘Ease of Living NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 4 MARCH B In the 2018 ‘Ease of Living Index', Pune was ranked the most liveable city in the country. Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai, which held the second and the third position in 2018, have slipped to the sixth and the 10th rank respectively in the 2020 NEW DELHI, 4 MARCH The Income Tax Department has detected financial irregularities of over Rs 650 crore after it raided two film production companies, two talent management companies and a leading actress, the Central Board of Direct Taxes claimed on Thursday but did not take any names. The statement from the CBDT came as raids on the homes and offices of Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu, director Anurag Kashyap and his partners who launched the now shuttered Phantom Films continued in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad for the second day. The searches also covered some executives of edition of the Ease of Living Index. The government said the ‘Ease of Living Index’ is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development. Index’ is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development. A total of 32.2 lakh people residing across 111 cities participated in a ‘Citizen Perception Survey’ holding a weightage of 30 per cent. “These cities have emerged as models of development who will inspire others to perform better. Further, their peers will also benefit from emulat- 650-cr discrepancies found in raids on Pannu, Kashyap SNS & PTI cases in 24-hour span celebrity and talent management companies KWAN and Exceed, officials said. Official sources identified the entities raided as Pannu and the four former promoters of Phantom Films ~Kashyap, director-producer Vikramaditya Motwane, producer Vikas Bahl and producer-distributor Madhu Mantena. They also identified the celebrity and talent management companies as Kwan and Exceed. The second film production company that was raided belongs to Kashyap. Evidence of huge suppression of income by the film production house compared to the actual box office collections has been unearthed,” the statement from CBDT, the administrative body of IT Department, claimed. These cities have emerged as models of development who will inspire others to perform better. Further, their peers will also benefit from emulating their best practices HARDEEP SINGH PURI UNION URBAN AFFAIRS MINISTER ing their best practices,” Puri said. In the 2018 ‘Ease of Living Index', Pune was ranked the most liveable city in the country. Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai, which held the second and the third position in 2018, have slipped to the sixth and the 10th rank respectively in the 2020 edition of the East of Living Index. Tirupati was at the fourth position, while Chandigarh had been ranked fifth in 2018, but in the 2020 ‘Ease of Living Index’, Tirupati and Chandigarh have slipped to the 46th and the 29th position respectively. Indore topped the ‘Municipal Performance Index’, involving 51 municipal corporations in the million-plus population category, while Guwahati figured at the bottom. In this category, Surat came second. New Delhi Municipal Council topped the ‘Municipal Performance Index 2020’ in the ‘less than million’ population category. As many as 17,407 fresh coronavirus cases were reported in a 24 hour period on Thursday morning, continuing a worrying upward trend that has manifested over the last two weeks. India’s total tally of Covid-19 infections is now 1,11,56,923, while there were 89 fatalities in the same period, taking the Covid-linked death toll to 1,57,435, the Union Health Ministry said. After a peak of nearly 98,000 fresh daily Covid-19 cases in September 2020, the number of new cases reported per day had fallen steadily to reach below 10,000 in mid-February, but the trend has reversed in the last two weeks. In mid-February, officials had said that the average daily new infections oscillated between 9,000 to 12,000 while daily deaths were between 78 to 120. On 9 February, India had reported 9,110 new cases, the lowest this year so far. The number of active cases has also been rising gradually, and now account for 1.55 per cent of all reported cases. As per the Health Ministry’s data, there are 1,73,413 active cases at present after 14,031 patients were discharged in a day. Till now, 1,08,26,075 persons have been discharged so far. The recovery rate has reduced to 97.03 per cent. Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka account for ‘I-T raids on pro-farmers’: Battle of idioms between Rahul and BJP PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 4 MARCH Hindi idioms took centre stage in a political slugfest between the Congress and the ruling BJP on Thursday as Rahul Gandhi cited them to accuse the government of using probe agencies to target critical voices, prompting Union minister Prakash Javadekar to invoke a few sayings to hit back. A day after income-tax raids at the homes and offices of Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and others, Gandhi used the hashtag ‘ModiRaidsProFarmers’ with his tweet in Hindi to take a dig at the government. Putting out three popular Hindi idioms ~ ‘Ungliyon pe nachana’, ‘Bheegi billi banna’ and ‘Khisiyani billi khamba noche’~ Gandhi stated what he believes they mean in the current context. In his three-pronged attack, he alleged that the Central government makes the Income Tax department dance to its tunes, friendly media gets cowed down before the Centre and the Central government raids those supporting farmers. Pannu and Kashyap are known to be outspoken in their views on a range of issues. Hitting back, Javadekar asked Gandhi to recall three more Hindis idioms~ ‘Sau chuhe khakar billi chali Haj ko’, ‘Ungliyon per gine ja sakna’ and ‘ranga siyar’ ~to target the Congress. He used the first saying to mock the Congress for giving lesson in media freedom after stifling it during the Emergency, the second for the current political standing of the party and the third for a “family party” like it lecturing on democracy and “the most communal party” pretending to be secular. At a press conference, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said that the Modi government has given complete freedom to probe agencies, and no one is a Bollywood star or a celebrity in their eyes. It is the Congress’s character to bend laws to help certain people and spare even criminals if they sing praises of the Gandhi family, he claimed. If somebody breaks law, evade tax or conspire against the country, then probe agencies will do their job, he said, referring to the I-T raids. Explain rationale behind vaccination regulation: HC SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 4 MARCH The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to explain the rationale behind keeping strict control over class of persons who can be vaccinated against Covid-19 currently as under the present system those above the age of 60 years or with comorbidities can receive vaccination. The high court said the two institutes which have developed the vaccines Covishield and Covaxin~ Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech ~ have more capacity to provide the vaccines but it seems their full capacity is not being exploited. “We are not utilising it fully. We are either donating it to foreign countries or selling it to them and are not vaccinating our own people. So there has 85.51 per cent of fresh cases, with Maharashtra seeing 9,855 cases added during a 24-hour period, the highest such number reported in the state since 10 October 2020. So far, 1,66,16,048 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the country since the drive began on 16 January after approval for ‘Covishield’ and ‘Covaxin’. The third phase of vaccination against Covid-19 pandemic began on Monday covering 27 1,11,56,923 1,73,413 17,407 14,031 1,57,435 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. THURSDAY 04 MARCH 2021 to be that sense of responsibility,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said. crore of people above 60 and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres. Bengal logs 209 fresh cases: Bengal registered 209 fresh Covid cases and a single death due to the infection. The total Covid case count for the state stands at 5,75,921, with the death toll reaching 10,273, while there are 3,236 active cases. Kolkata recorded 75 cases. RELENTLESS Farmers protest against Centre’s new agri laws at New Delhi Ghazipur border on Thursday. IANS BJP flip-flop over Metroman’s CM candidature ‘Porn content on OTT platforms’ STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, 4 MARCH ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, who recently joined the BJP will , be the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the Kerala Assembly elections, party leaders from the state declared on Thursday, only to do an U-turn within hours to say that no such decision had been taken. Rival parties mocked the BJP , which currently has a single MLA in the 140-member Kerala Assembly, over the announcement and the subsequent confusion. Speaking at a reception accorded to his Vijaya Yatra at Thiruvalla, BJP Kerala chief K Surendran today declared that the party has made Sreedharan its chief ministerial can- didate for the Assembly elections to be held on 6 April. He said a person like Sreedharan becoming chief minister could be good for the state. “The Kochi metro and the timely completion of the Palativattam flyover are typical examples of Sreedharan’s brilliance. If the metroman is given a chance, we believe he will be able to execute the development plans mooted by PM Modi,” Mr Surendran said. Later, Union minister V Muraleedharan tweeted: “BJP4Keralam will fight Kerala polls with E Sreedharan Ji as its Chief Ministerial Candidate.We will defeat both CPIMKerala & INCKerala to provide a corruption-free, development-oriented Governance for the people.” Soon after, however, the Union minister of state for external affairs and parliamentary affairs clarified that the party has not made any such announcement. Muraleedharan said he had learnt through media reports that the party has announced Sreedharan as the chief ministerial candidate. But when he cross-checked with state party president K Surendran, he said he has not made any CMYK such announcements, he said. Referring to Muraleedharan’s clarification tweets, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took a dig at the BJP saying the , saffron party was “confused”. “Hilarious! BJP4Keralam manages to be confused about who will occupy the top floor of a building that will never be built.There will be no BJP CM in Kerala,” Tharoor tweeted. The development comes on a day the 88-year-old technocrat announced his decision to end his 24-year long career with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to enter electoral politics. Today, Sreedharan inspected the Palativattam flyover in Kochi, where he told mediapersons that he would soon submit his resignation as principal adviser of DMRC. (With PTI inputs) NEW DELHI, 4 MARCH The Supreme Court on Thursday objected to streaming of films on web platforms without any prior screening of the content and also cited some films having pornographic content. The observation by the top court came during the hearing of a plea by Amazon Prime Video India head Aparna Purohit against an Allahabad High Court order, which declined to entertain her anticipatory bail in connection with the FIRs lodged against her over the web series Tandav. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said: “There should be some screening (of content on web platforms). There is The SC bench said there should be prior screening of content on web platforms while hearing a plea filed by Amazon Prime India’s head regarding the FIRs against her over web seriesTandav pornography in some films.” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, said some programmes feature filthy abuse. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Purohit, contended this was “a matter of free speech” and cited that his client is not the producer of the show, instead an employee of the compa- ny which is streaming the web series Tandav. The top court indicated that there should be a censor board-like body which screens the films. It scheduled the matter for further hearing on Friday. In January, the top court refused to grant interim protection to the Tandav crew from any coercive action and had asked them to move the concerned courts to seek bail in the matter. Purohit has been accused of inappropriate depiction of Hindu deities, UP Police personnel and for adverse portrayal of a character in the role of prime minister in the web series. On 25 February, Allahabad High Court declined to grant her anticipatory bail in the matter.
The Statesman is one of India's oldest English newspapers. It was founded in Kolkata in 1875 and is directly descended from The Friend of India (founded 1818). The Englishman (founded 1821) was merged with The Statesman in 1934. The Delhi edition of The Statesman began publication in 1931. The Statesman Weekly is a compendium of news and views from the Kolkata and Delhi editions. Printed on airmail paper, it is popular with readers outside India. The Statesman (average weekday circulation approximately 180,000) is a leading English newspaper in West Bengal. The Sunday Statesman has a circulation of 230,000.