CMYK THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 08 APRIL 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12+4 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘BRITONS SHOULD BE REALISTIC ABOUT FOREIGN HOLIDAY’ THE KOREAN QUESTION P6 WEATHER Generally cloudy sky. One or two spells of thundershower. Temperature will be in the range of 35-27 degrees Celsius. JUST HOW SECURE ARE CRICKET’S BIO BUBBLES? POLITICS OF FEAR IN NEPAL P10 P7 Covid jabs in workplaces likely from 11 April: Govt RAINFALL: 0.0 mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY India has surpassed the US to become the fastest Covid vaccinating country in the world Max.88% SNS & PTI TEMPERATURE Min. 48% Max: 33.8°C (-2) Min: 26.0°C (1) SUN RISES SUN SETS 05:23 hrs 17:55 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 03:17 hrs 14:47 hrs Full moon on 12 April THUMBNAILS Indian Youth Congress activists protest against the Rafale deal by the Central government, in the Capital on Wednesday. SNS EC notice to Mamata: The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday issued a notice to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for violating the model code of conduct and sought her reply within 48 hours. The EC stated that it will take a decision on failing to get any response. The notice came following a complaint from a BJP delegation led by Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Speaking at a rally at Tarakeshwar in Hooghly on 3 April, Miss Banerjee appealed to the Muslim voters to unite against BJP. Raipur lockdown: The Chhattisgarh government has decided to go for a 10-day total lockdown in Raipur from 6 pm on 9 April to 19 April as pandemic’s second wave may soon assume grim proportions. Raipur is the first state Capital to have been forced to impose such a long lockdown, district collector S Bharathi Dasan said on Wednesday. A total of 26 people have died in Raipur in the last 24 hours. P5 NEW DELHI, 7 APRIL he government will allow Covid-19 vaccination at public and private workplaces having about 100 eligible beneficiaries from 11 April across states and Union territories. Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to the chief secretaries said a substantial proportion of population aged 45 and above is in the organised sector and is involved in formal occupation in offices (government and private) or manufacturing and services. “in order to increase the access of vaccine to these populations, Covid-19 vaccination sessions may be organised at work places (both public and private) which are having about 100 eligible and willing beneficiaries by tagging these work places with an existing Covid vaccination centre,” Bhushan said in the letter . He said the states can initiate due consultations with private/public sector employers and management to prepare for launch of work place vaccination. “Such work place vaccination centres may be launched across states/Union territories from 11 April 2021,” he said. T Fastest vaccination in India: India has surpassed the US to become the fastest Covid-19 vaccinating country in the world with an average daily rate of 30,93,861 vaccine doses,the Union health ministry said today. The cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 8.70 crore. Cumulatively, 8,70 ,77, 474 vaccine doses have been administered through 13,32,130 sessions, as per the provisional report till 7 am. More than 33 lakh vaccination doses were administered in the last 24 hours. As on Day-81 of the vaccination drive (6 April), 33,37,601 vaccine doses were given. India’s daily new cases continue to rise and 1,15,736 new cases were registered in a span of 24 hours. Slack in following Covid appropriate behaviour, a susceptible population and spread of variants could be among the main reasons for the second wave that has hit the country, healthcare experts have said. Eight states including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have shown a rise in the Covid daily new cases accounting for 80.70 per cent of the new cases reported in a day. Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 55,469, followed by Chhattisgarh with 9,921. “There is definitely a role of new variants of concern which are more infectious and probably some of them are immune escape variants also and 1,28,01,785 Maha running out of vaccines: Tope PRESS TRUST OF INDIA MUMBAI, 7 APRIL 8,43,473 1,15,736 59,856 1,66,177 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESDAY 07 APRIL 2021 they are spreading faster than the earlier versions,” said Dr Giridhara R Babu, Professor and Head, Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India. Immune escape variants are not detected by the immune system. India’s total active caseload has increased to 8,43,473. A net increase of 55,250 cases was recorded in the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra alone accounts for 56.17 per cent of the total active caseload of the country, the ministry said. In a span of 24 hours, India’s cumulative recoveries have surged to 1,17,92,135 with 59,856 recoveries and a total of 630 deaths were reported. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (297); Punjab follows with 61. Eleven states and UTs Many inoculation centres in Maharashtra are being shut due to the shortage of coronavirus vaccine, health minister Rajesh Tope said today, adding the state now has 14 lakh doses which would last just three days. Earlier today, the state principal secretary (health) Pradeep Vyas said that several districts in Maharashtra will run out of the Covid-19 vaccine stock “today or tomorrow”, adding the Centre has been informed. “There are not enough doses at many vaccination centres and people coming there have to be sent back due to the shortage,” Tope said. The Centre should ensure that those in the 20-40 age group are vaccinated on priority, he told reporters. “Fourteen lakh doses are available now which would last three days. We need 40 lakh vaccine doses every week.We can then administer six lakh doses every day in have not reported any Covid-19 deaths in a span of 24 hours. Bengal cases: West Bengal registered 2,390 fresh Covid cases and eight deaths in a single day. a week. The doses we are getting are not enough,” he said. Tope said the state government was earlier vaccinating four lakh people in a day. “We accepted the challenge from the Centre to expedite the vaccination drive to six lakh per day. Now we were vaccinating nearly 5 lakh people in a day,” he said. The minister urged the Centre to give priority to Maharashtra, since the cases were more in the state and the overall death toll was over 50,000. “Most of those infected now are in the age group of 25 to 40,” he said. There is an urgent need to control the viral infection by increasing the immunity level of people and creating antibodies, Tope said. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today hit out at Maharashtra alleging it of trying to cover their “failures” and spreading panic among people by demanding vaccination of all without inoculating enough of eligible beneficiaries. The total Covid case count is 6,00,024 and death toll is 10,363 in the state till now while there are 14,290 active cases. Kolkata recorded 722 cases and three deaths in the last 24 hours. P12 Mask must even while driving alone in Capital, says HC SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 7 APRIL Wearing a mask while driving alone in a private vehicle is compulsory as it is a public place in the context of Covid19, the Delhi High Court held today and described face covering as a ‘suraksha kavach’ or protective shield against the spread of the infection. Justice Prathiba M Singh refused to interfere with the Delhi government’s decision to impose challans for not wearing a mask while driving a private car alone, saying a vehicle even if occupied by one person would constitute a public place. “There are several possibilities in which while sitting alone in the car one could be exposed to the outside world. Thus, it cannot be said that merely because the person is travelling alone in a car, the car would not be a public place. “Wearing of a mask therein would be compulsory in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the court said. Masks are necessary irrespective of whether a person is vaccinated or not, it added. Justice Singh’s ruling and observations came while dismissing four petitions by lawyers who challenged the imposition of challans for not wearing a mask while driving alone in a private vehicle. Wearing a mask was “one measure which saved millions of lives” during the pandemic, it pointed out. The court further noted in its verdict that upon the outbreak of the pandemic, scientists, researchers, international organisations and governments emphasised the importance of wearing facial masks to control the spread RBI holds interest rates, pledges India, China may hold military talks on 9 April to buy `1 lakh cr govt bonds STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 7 APRIL PRESS TRUST OF INDIA MUMBAI, 7 APRIL The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept key interest rates unchanged at record lows while pledging to buy Rs 1 lakh crore of government bonds this quarter to cap borrowing costs in a bid to support an economy facing a resurgence of the pandemic. In the first monetary policy of the 2021-22 fiscal, the central bank stuck to its accommodative stance as long as necessary, amid concerns of rising infections that could derail the nascent economic recovery. RBI’s repo rate, which was cut by a total of 115 basis points last year to soften the blow from the pandemic, will stay at 4 per cent while the reverse repo rate will be unchanged at 3.35 per cent. Governor Shaktikanta Das said the six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) voted unanimously “to continue with the accommodative stance as long as necessary to sustain growth on a durable basis and continue to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the economy while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward.” “The recent surge in infections has, however, imparted greater uncertainty to the outlook and needs to be closely watched, especially as localised and regional lockdowns could dampen the recent improvement in demand conditions and delay the return of normalcy,” he said. Das announced a second market G-sec acquisition programme or G-SAP 1.0 wherein RBI committed to open market purchase of government securities. In April-June, it is committed to buy Rs 1 lakh crore bonds, with first debt purchases starting from 15 April. RBI had bought Rs 3 lakh crore of bonds in the last fiscal (2020-21) and planned similar or more spending in the FY April 2021 to March 2022. While retaining its GDP growth outlook for FY22 at 10.5 per cent after a 7.5 per cent contraction in 2020-21, RBI revised the outlook for inflation, with price rise seen at 5 per cent in the fourth quarter of last fiscal year. It is projected to rise to 5.2 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal. Das reiterated that the banking system liquidity will continue to remain in surplus even after meeting all requirements of the financial market segments and productive sectors of the economy. This is the fifth time in a row that MPC has decided to keep the policy rate unchanged. RBI had last revised its policy rate on 22 May 2020, in an off-policy cycle to perk up demand by cutting interest rates to a historic low. He assured that RBI is committed to ensuring ample system liquidity in consonance with the accommodative stance of MPC. To provide additional liquidity to states, RBI has decided to accept the recommendations of an Advisory Committee constituted by it to review the Ways and Means Advance (WMA) limits for state governments/UTs and other related issues. Accordingly, it has been decided to enhance the aggregate WMA limit of states and UTs to Rs 47,010 crore, an increase of about 46 per cent from the current limit of Rs 32,225 crore which was fixed in February 2016. “Further, it has also been decided to continue the enhanced interim WMA limit of Rs 51,560 crore granted by RBI due to the pandemic for a further period of six months i.e. up to 30 September 2021,” he said. Das further said that to nurture the still-nascent growth impulses, it is felt necessary to support the continued flow of credit to the real economy. Accordingly, liquidity support of Rs 50,000 crore for fresh lending during 2021-22 will be provided to All India Financial Institutions (AIFIs). He announced that Rs 25,000 crore will be provided to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Rs 10,000 crore to National Housing Bank (NHB) and Rs 15,000 crore to Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). India and China are likely to hold the next round of corps commander-level talks on disengagement at other friction points in Eastern Ladakh on 9 April, army sources said today. The 11th round of meeting will focus on disengagement in areas like Gogra, Depsang and Hot springs. The two countries have successfully completed disengagement of troops at the Pangong Tso Lake area. The talks follow a meeting between senior diplomats of the two countries under the format of the Working Mechanism for Coordination and Consultations (WMCC) in border areas. The two countries have been engaged in a military stand-off for almost a year but the completion of disengagement at the Pangong Tso Lake area last month has raised hopes of the face-off coming to an end. India has expressed its hope that China would cooperate to ensure completion of disengagement of troops in remaining areas. “This (disengagement) would allow both sides to consider de-escalation of forces in eastern Ladakh as that alone will lead to the restoration of peace and tranquillity and provide conditions for progress of our bilateral relationship,” ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. India believes protracting the existing situation at eastern Ladakh was in neither side’s interest. China has, meanwhile, pitched for a final settlement of the complex boundary dispute to avoid recurring military stand-offs between the two countries. Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said the recent disengagement at the Pangong Tso Lake was conducive to building trust and further easing the situation on the ground. “Against this backdrop, we should implement the consensus reached by the two leaders (of the two countries) and strictly abide by the existing agreements, step up dialogue and communication, and improve the border management and control mechanisms to further ease, stabilise and control the border situation, avoid relapse and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas,’’ he said, last week. of the disease. “In the absence of a complete definitive cure, the world continues to wrestle with the pandemic. The challenge of the pandemic was enormous at the outbreak of the same and even with the introduction of a few vaccines, the emphasis continues to be laid on wearing face masks,” it said. The lawyers, in their pleas, had contended that district magistrates who were vested with the powers to impose fines could not have sub-delegated the powers to others. Disagreeing with the contention, Justice Singh said that the definition of ‘authorised persons’ being inclusive and expansive in nature, district magistrates were also vested with powers to further authorise any officers to issue challans. “The list of officers, who were authorised is broad and in the opinion of this court it has to be interpreted expansively and not restrictively...The challans have been issued by duly authorised officers. The prayer for quashing of the challans is thus not sustainable,” the court said. It further said that being lawyers and advocates, the petitioners “ought to recognise and assist in the implementation of the measures for curtailing the spread of the pandemic, instead of questioning the legality of the same”. During the proceedings, the ministry of health and family welfare, represented by advocate Farman Ali Magray, told the court that it has not issued any direction asking people to wear masks in a car when they are alone. The ministry said health is a state subject and the Delhi government has to take a decision on it. Bengal ph 3 poll: 84.61% turnout KOLKATA, 7 APRIL West Bengal reported 84.61 per cent voter turnout in the third phase of polling yesterday. Polling was held in 31 seats across three districts of south Bengal-Howrah, Hooghly and South 24 Parganas-which is considered to be a stronghold of the Trinamul Congress. Among the three districts, highest voter turnout of 86.11 per cent was recorded in South 24 Parganas followed by 83.75 per cent in Hooghly and 83.55 per cent in Howrah. Both the highest and lowest voter turnout were recorded in Hooghly. Highest polling of 88.67 per cent was recorded in Goghat and lowest 78.25 in Khanakul. SNS Details on page 3 Mukhtar Ansari back in jail, ferried in ambulance PRESS TRUST OF INDIA BANDA (UP), 7 APRIL After spending over two years in a Punjab prison, gangsterturned-politician Mukhtar Ansari was brought back to Banda jail early today morning. He was ferried in an ambulance, part of convoy carrying gun-toting policemen, throughout the 900-km journey from Rupnagar to this Uttar Pradesh town in the Bundelkhand region. Hours later, his brother Afzal Ansari accused the police of treating him in an inhuman manner during the journey, claiming he was not given food or water. But he did not substantiate the allegation and, according to the UP government, a medical panel examined the 57-year-old after his arrival and found no immediate health concerns. The Bahujan Samaj Party MLA from Mau faces trial in UP in several cases, including attempt to murder and murder. His transfer from Punjab was ordered by the Supreme Court after the UP government approached it, seeking the politician’s custody from Punjab. An UP police team arrived on Tuesday at Punjab’s Rupnagar jail, where Ansari was lodged in connection with an extortion case in Punjab. The hand-over formalities at the jail took about two hours The police convoy which including the ambulance equipped with life-saving equipment and an anti-riot Vajra vehicle raced across newly built expressways on an CMYK over 14-hour journey. At 4.30 am today, the ambulance and three other UP police vehicles entered the Banda jail premises. Afzal Ansari, who is the BSP MP from Ghazipur, accused police of ill-treating his brother. In the over 15-hour journey, he was not given water and food and was also denied medical aid. Due to this, he became unwell and reached Banda jail in a semi-conscious state,” he alleged. Ansari, however, did not elaborate how he got to know about the alleged treatment meted out to his brother. The UP government, however, said a team of doctors from the Banda Medical College examined Mukhtar at the jail and found no immediate health issues. The family has earlier expressed concern over Ansari’s safety while in UP , expressing apprehension about possible attempts to eliminate him. The SC will hear on Friday Afshan Ansari’s plea seeking directions to the UP authorities to ensure protection for her husband. On the way to Banda, at Kanpur Dehat, the police convoy was forced to a stop around 1.30 am with stray animal blocking the road between Bhognipur and Ghatampur. Policemen stepped out from their vehicles to drive them away. Minutes later, the vehicles stopped at Satti police station. Policemen there evaded questions from reporters about the sudden halt, but a police official later said it was just a five-minute bathroom break for Ansari. The Banda prison area looked like a cantonment zone with policemen keeping a strict vigil. The five-time MLA will spend time as an undertrial in barrack number 15 of the district jail, where he was lodged in the past before being shifted to Punjab. Additional police force has been deployed at the request of prison authorities. He will be guarded by three security personnel round-the-clock inside the barrack. “Security personnel have been posted inside as well as outside the jail premises,” Banda jailor Pramod Tiwari had said earlier. High towers have been put up outside the jail and extra police pickets have also been set up to keep watch on visitors.
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