SATURDAY www.thestatesman.com 27 MARCH 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘CORRUPTION THE ISSUE IN KERALA’ GROSS MISHANDLING OF FUNDS BY NITISH GOVT: CAG P4 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 34 and 17 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 81% Max: 32.0°C (0) SUN RISES 06:16 hrs MOON RISES 17:10 hrs P7 P10 NEW DELHI, 26 MARCH Min: 36% Min: 16.0°C (-1) SUN SETS 18:36 hrs MOON SETS 06:07 hrs THUMBNAILS Protesting farmers sit on a dharna at Ghazipur border in view of a 12-hour 'Bharat Bandh' call by Samyukt Kisan Morcha against the Centre’s farm (SEE P4) laws, in the Capital on Friday . SNS President Kovind under medical observation: President Ram Nath Kovind is undergoing check-up at the Army's Research and Referral hospital here after complaining of chest discomfort on Friday morning. It said he is undergoing routine check-up and is under observation. “President of India visited Army Hospital (R&R) following chest discomfort this morning. He is undergoing routine check-up and is under observation,” the hospital said in a medical bulletin. “His condition is stable,” it added. HC verdict on Vedanta PSC: Delhi High Court on Friday set aside a single-judge order directing the Centre to extend till 2030 its production sharing contract (PSC) with Vedanta Ltd and ONGC to produce oil from the Barmer oil field in Rajasthan. A Bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh allowed the Central government's appeal against the single Judge's order of 31 May 2018 in favour of P8 Vedanta, formerly Cairn India. 2 already dead from Covid-19 before blaze: Hospital SNS & PTI MUMBAI, 26 MARCH T en patients died in a fire at a Covid-19 hospital in a Mumbai mall on Friday, police said, adding more misery to a state that has emerged as the hardest hit in the pandemic. DCP Prashant Kadam said 10 coronavirus patients died in the blaze. The hospital had earlier said two deceased were coronavirus patients who were already dead from the disease when the fire broke out. It is yet to comment on the remaining eight deaths. Civic and hospital officials have also not disclosed how many people were rescued from there after the blaze. The fire broke out at the Sunrise Hospital in the Dreams Mall building in Bhandup area around midnight, the official said. The hospital is situated on the top floor of the four-storeyed mall building. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray who visited the spot in the afternoon said strict action will be taken against those found responsible for the fire. Thackeray apologised to the families of the victims and announced Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each deceased. Thackeray said permission was granted to the hospital “on a temporary basis” last year to run a Covid-19 centre. The blaze comes amidst an upsurge in coronavirus cases in Mumbai. The cause of the fire has not been ascer- Firefighters attempt to douse the blaze at Dreams Mall, affecting patients at nearby Covid-dedicated Sunrise Hospital in Mumbai. The fire broke out at the Sunrise Hospital in the Dreams Mall building in Bhandup area around midnight. The hospital is situated on the top floor of the four-storeyed mall building Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray said permission was granted to the hospital “on a temporary basis” last year to run a Covid-19 centre tained yet, BMC control room sources said. Thirty fire engines, 20 water tankers and ambulances were rushed to the spot. Fire fighting operation is underway, the official said. Patients who were evacuated were shifted to another hospital, the official said. Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar who visited the site expressed surprise that a hospital was operating inside the mall. “I have seen a hospital at a mall for the first time,” the mayor said, adding action will be taken if irregularities were found in allowing the facility to oper- ate there. The hospital in a statement said, “There was a fire on the first floor of Dreams Mall, Bhandup and the smoke reached up to the Sunrise Hospital located on the top floor. When fire alarms sounded, all patients were safely evacuated to the fire refuge area.” A civic official said the BMC had issued notice to the mall last year for allegedly flouting fire safety norms. Former NCP MP Sanjay Patil said he had written to the BMC commissioner last year drawing the civic body’s attention to the alleged flouting of fire safety norms there. SNS & PTI Four killed in Bangladesh protest DHAKA, 26 MARCH COX’S BAZAR At least four people were killed in the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong on Friday after police fired rubber bullets at protesters during a demonstration against the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a police official said. “We had to fire teargas and rubber bullets to disperse Square, Modi recalled the role played by the Indian Army in the freedom war and said, “I salute the brave soldiers of the Indian Army who stood with the brothers and sisters of Bangladesh in Muktijuddo. Those who sacrificed them- selves and played a very big role in realising the dream of independent Bangladesh,” said Modi, who is visiting Bangladesh on his first trip to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Modi was wearing a ‘Mujib India reported 59,118 Coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours pushing the total tally to 1,18,46,652 on Friday. According to the Health Ministry, Maharashtra and Punjab are turning out to be the highest contributors to the new surge. A net incline of 25,874 cases was recorded from the total active caseload in the last 24 hours. Three states~ Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab together account for 73.64 per cent of the total active cases in the country. Of the 59,118 new cases reported in the last 24 hours through out the country, Maharashtra contributed 35,952, followed by Punjab with 2,661 while Karnataka reported 2,523 new cases ~which comes to 41,136 alone. Ten states~ Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Haryana and Rajasthan~ are displaying an upward trajectory in daily new cases, it highlighted India’s cumulative recoveries stand at 1,12,64,637 as on the day. The national recovery rate is 95.09 per cent. A total of 32,987 recoveries were registered in the last 24 hours. The Central government is closely monitoring and actively engaging with states and union territories over the rising cases in the country. Maha govt imposes night curfew from tomorrow SNS & AGENCIES MUMBAI, 26 MARCH Maharashtra will impose a night curfew from Sunday, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office said, as the state struggles with its highest surge in coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic. Cases have spiked across several states in since late February, following a near-full reopening of the economy and flouting of safety measures such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing, health officials say. More than half the new infections were reported from Maharashtra, home to financial With death of 257 people in the last 24 hours, the fatality toll has reached 1,60,949 in India. The active caseload in country has mounted to 4,21,066. With the discharge of 32,987 patients in a day, a total of 1,12,64,637 persons have been discharged so far. So far, 5.55 crore doses of Corona vaccine have been administered in the country since the drive began on 16 January. KOLKATA, 26 MARCH The impact of the decade-long development work of the Trinamul Congress regime will be tested against the back to back poll rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior leaders as 30 Assembly constituencies, including the extensive tribal belt of Junglemahal, go to the polls tomorrow. Incidentally, the first phase poll includes seats from a large swathe of the state where BJP candidates won for the first time in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In a way, the permanence of the hold on the newly-acquired support base of the saffron camp will be tested tomorrow. This phase also includes two seats of Contai where the influential Adhikaris cross- ing over to the BJP has boosted the morale of the saffron camp. After the BJP made its first inroads in 2018 rural polls, Trinamul Congress has failed to check the further spread of saffron influence in these areas in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019. But the ruling party does not seem to have got its act together as Trinamul had to support an Independent candidate, Dibyojyoti Singh Deo in Joypur, Purulia, after its candidate Ujjal Kumar’s candidature was cancelled by the Election Commission on technical grounds. Strangely enough, there are pockets of Congress influence in Baghmundi represented by veteran Congress leader Nepal Mahato. No candidate was fielded by the BJP which is supporting Ashutosh Mahato, an AJSU candidate. Seeking a clean sweep by her party, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has campaigned in the area for her party’s candidate Sushanta Mahato. Two sitting ministers~ Santiram Mahato from Balarampur and Sandhya Rani Tudu from Manbazar are in the poll fray. Elections in the first phase will also be held in the red earth stretch of the state beginning from Purulia and covering parts of Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore. Even the worst critics of the present regime will not be able to overlook the Trinamul government’s work in ending the blood-letting when the Maoist menace raised its head during the final years of the Left Front regime. Bringing back the disgruntled youths into the mainstream by giving them jobs and such schemes as Khadhya Sathi and Swastha Sathi and SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 26 MARCH them as they entered a police station and carried out extensive vandalism,” Rafiqul Islam, the police official said, referring to protesters. Protests against Modi’s visit were also flared in the capital Dhaka, where dozens of people, including two journalists, were injured in clashes with police, witnesses AGENCIES said. Jacket’ as tribute to Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation. “I am grateful that Bangladesh has included me in this event. It is a matter of our pride that we got the opportunity to honour Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Gandhi Peace Prize,” he said. Kanyashree scheme for the girls had earned rich dividends in previous elections. But given the unexpected results in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, the electoral battles in Saltora, Chhatna, Ranibandh and Raipur are unlikely to be cakewalks for Trinamul candidates. The political scenario of Jhargram closely resembling Bankura after Trinamul’s Lok Sabha reverses prompted the party leadership to field a new candidate. Birbaha Hansda, a wellknown face in Santhali films. Before she faced the camera, Birbabha was in close touch with politics, being the daughter of Naren Hansda and Chunibala Hansda of Jharkhand (Naren) Party. She takes on childhood friend Madhuja Sen Ray, a CPI-M candidate and the BJP candidate Sukhomoy Satpati. Salboni, inWest Midnapore, 4,21,066 59,118 32,987 Delhi logs 1,534 cases, 9 deaths: In yet another spike, Delhi reported over 1,500 coronavirus infections for the second consecutive day today, even as it logged 9 more Covid deaths, highest in around two months. 1,60,949 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. FRIDAY 26 MARCH 2021 SEE P 2 WORRYING TREND Full lockdown for 10 days in the worst-affected towns of Nanded and Beed capital Mumbai, where millions have returned to work in offices and factories. The local government imposed a full lockdown for ten days in the worst-affected towns Nanded and Beed following a cabinet meeting. “It was suggested to allow local administration to impose localized lockdowns instead of imposing lockdown across the state,” said a senior government official, referring to comments made during the meeting. A health worker, wearing PPE kit, takes a swab sample from a man for Covid-19 test at the Gateway of India. AGENCIES In Mumbai on Friday. In a major victory for the Tata Group, the Supreme Court on Friday set aside a National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order restoring Cyrus Mistry as the executive chairman of the conglomerate. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said it is allowing the appeals filed by the Tata Group. “The order of NCLAT dated 18 December, 2019 is set aside,” the bench said while pronouncing the verdict and putting at rest the long-drawn legal battle of the salt-to-software Tata con- glomerate. The bench, which dealt with the SP (Shapoorji Pallonji) Group’s contention regarding separation, said the valuation of the group’s shares depends upon the value of the Tata Sons’ stake in listed equities, immovable assets and others. “We will leave it to the parties to take the Article 75 route or any other legally available route in this regard,” the bench said. The SP Group had told the top court that Mistry’s removal as the chairman of TSPL at a board meeting held in October 2016 was akin to a “blood sport” and “ambush”, in complete violation of the principles of corporate governance. The Tata Group had opposed the allegations and denied any wrongdoing. The top court had, on 22 September last year, restrained the SP Group and Mistry as also his investment firm from pledging or transferring their shares in TSPL. The SP Group, which owns 18.37 per cent shares in TSPL, had said the latter moved the top court to block its plan to pledge shares for raising funds and that reeked of vindictiveness. The apex court had, on 10 January last year, granted relief to the Tata Group by staying the NCLAT order by which Mistry was restored as the executive chairman of the conglomerate. Stage set, daggers drawn for first phase of polling in Bengal SOMA MOOKHERJEE TIRTHANKAR MITRA 1,18,46,652 SC sets aside NCLAT order restoring SC junks plea Mistry as exec chairman of Tata Group to stay sale of Modi hails Mujib’s leadership on Dhaka visit Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s leadership and the contributions of the Indian Army in Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War as he joined his counterpart Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid in celebrating the golden jubilee of the country’s independence and the birth centenary of its founder. Prime Minister Modi on Friday went from Delhi to Dhaka on a new custom-made VVIP aircraft, using it for the first time on a foreign journey. Addressing Bangladesh’s 50th Independence anniversary at the National Parade P12 10 Covid patients Covid resurge: India reports dead in Mumbai 59,118 new cases in 24 hours mall hospital fire STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE TEMPERATURE ‘SOME NEOPHYTES LOVE THE TAKINGS MORE THAN THE GAME’ INDIAN-ORIGIN SWORN IN AS US SURGEON GENERAL has become the cynosure after the CPI-M fielded Sushanta Ghosh who hit the headlines after several skeletons were unearthed near his home in Garbeta. But his campaigns in Salboni has rejuvenated the rank and file who are trying to wrest the seat from two-time sitting MLA Srikanto Mahato. At Midnapore constituency, TMC candidate and actor June Malia takes on Samir Kumar Dash of BJP and Tarun Kumar Ghosh of CPI-M in her maiden electoral venture. Once synonymous with the blood and gore of the Nandigram movement, Khejuri, this time has a debutant candidate Partha Pratim Das. Veteran TMC leader Jyotirmoy Kar has been shifted from his old constituency Patashpur to Contai( South) after the party leadership fielded Chandrima Bhattacharya in DumDum (North). electoral bonds ahead of polls The NGO in its petition had claimed that there is apprehension that any further sale of electoral bonds before the upcoming Assembly elections, including in West Bengal and Assam, would further increase illegal funding of political parties NEW DELHI, 26 MARCH The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking stay on further sale of electoral bonds ahead of Assembly elections. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde declined to stay sale of the electoral bonds as sought in the application moved by the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms. The Centre had earlier told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that the bonds would be issued from 1 April to 10 April . The NGO had claimed that there is a serious apprehension that any further sale of electoral bonds before the upcoming Assembly elections, including in West Bengal and Assam, would further increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies. While reserving its order on the NGO’s application, the apex court on 24 March hadflagged the issue of possible misuse of funds received through electoral bonds by political parties for illegal purposes like terrorism and had asked the Centre whether there was any control over these funds. The top court said the government should look into misuse of electoral funds for PTI illegal purposes.
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