SUNDAY www.thestatesman.com 25 APRIL 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 | `5 |LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR TRANSLATION AND IDENTITY ‘ENSURE COVID-19 DOESN’T HIT VILLAGES’ P5 Mainly clear sky. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 36 and 18 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min: 25% TEMPERATURE Max: 34.1°C (-4) SUN RISES 05:45 hrs MOON RISES 16: 59 hrs P10 P6 Min: 16.4°C (-7) SUN SETS 18:53 hrs MOON SETS 05:14 hrs THUMBNAILS The deserted view of the street in front of Roomi-Darwaza, due to Covid-induced weekend AGENCIES lockdown, in Lucknow, on Sunday. ECI cracks whip on Covid protocol violations: The Election Commission of India on Saturday asked the West Bengal chief secretary, DGP and commissioner of Kolkata Police to take strict action against those violating Covid protocols during campaigning for the state Assembly elections, and and invoke the Disaster Management Act (DMA) where necessary to curb the menace and book those flouting norms P5 with impunity. 2 kidnapped ONGC employees rescued: Two employees of ONGC were rescued after an encounter near the India-Myanmar border in Nagaland on Saturday, while a search for the third personnel is underway, Assam police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said. The three employees of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation were kidnapped by suspected ULFA(I) militants from the Lakwa oilfield in Sivasagar district along Assam-Nagaland border on Wednesday. India, French navies to conduct wargame: The Indian and French navies will hold a three-day mega wargame in the Arabian Sea beginning Sunday that will feature complex naval operations like advanced air defence and anti-submarine drills. The 19th edition of Varuna exercise will showcase the increasing levels of synergy. NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL Ahead of the roll-out of vaccination of people aged between 18 and 45 from 1 May, the Centre on Saturday asked states to register additional private vaccination centres and ensure effective crowd management at sites and stressed on inoculation through “only online registration” for beneficiaries in the age bracket. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to Combat Covid-19 chairman R S Sharma held a high-level meeting on Saturday to guide Central govt waives customs duty on O2, Covid vaccines STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL T wenty people died at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital, their lives ebbing away as the hospital waited for oxygen to be replenished, officials said on Saturday, day five of a deepening crisis over the scarcity of oxygen vital to save critically ill Covid patients. Every few hours, as it has been for the last days, hospitals across the national capital and its suburbs sent out desperate messages of help on social media and other platforms, flagging their dwindling stocks of oxygen. The Maharaja Agrasen Hospital approached the Delhi High Court. A day after 25 patients died at the Ganga Ram Hospital, one of the city’s biggest and most high-profile health facilities, the court told the Delhi government to give it one instance of oxygen supply being obstructed and said, “We will hang that man. O2 crunch in Punjab: 6 dead A woman wails after her husband’s death at Jaipur Golden hospital on Saturday “We will not spare anyone,” the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli added while hearing Maharaja Agrasen Hospital’s plea over the shortage of oxygen for its seriously ill Covid patients. At the Jaipur Golden Hospital in southwest Delhi’s Rohini locality, the worst fears came true. “Oxygen pressure has dipped as we are running out of stock,” Medical Director D K Baluja said as news came in of its 20 patients dying through the night. He said the hospital has over 200 patients and at 10.45 am, only half-an- The Jaipur Golden Hospital in southwest Delhi’s Rohini locality has over 200 patients and at 10.45 am, only half-an-hour of oxygen was left. Over 80 per cent of the patients were on oxygen support and 35 were in the ICU. hour of oxygen was left. Hospital officials added that over 80 per cent of the patients in the hospital were on oxygen support and 35 were in the ICU. At Ganga Ram hospital, authorities struggled to avoid a repeat of the earlier day’s tragedy. The hospital requires a minimum of 11,000 cubic metres of oxygen daily but was left with just 200 cubic metres when a tanker with 1.5 tonnes of oxygen arrived at 11.35 am, officials said. “Patients are suffering. We feel sad to see people bringing their oxygen cylinders . Hospital is approaching all authori- but no help is coming. Hundreds of calls made, nobody picking the calls,” hospital chairperson D S Rana said. “We were running oxygen at half the normal pressure. This supply of 1.5 tonnes of oxygen will may be two hours. The situation is scary,” added a hospital official. In a pincer effect, the shortage of oxygen and the explosion of cases in Delhi have together stretched healthcare infrastructure to its absolute limits, leaving hospitals struggling with band aid solutions to see them through for the next few hours before another SOS call. Outside the hospitals, scenes of despair played out with queues of ambulances, frantic relatives and patients gasping for breath as they waited for help and hospitals, overwhelmed and helpless, tried to deal with the multiple emergencies at their doorstep. The story was repeated in hospital after hospital. (More on inside pages) Mounting cases a tsunami: HC PRESS TRUST OF INDIA CHANDIGARH, 24 APRIL NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL After six patients died at a private hospital in Amritsar on Saturday morning allegedly due to oxygen shortage, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh today ordered shutdown of operations in the state’s iron and steel industries to divert oxygen for medical use amidst the escalating oxygen crisis. He ordered probe into the tragic incident at the P Amritsar hospital. (P4) Delhi High Court on Saturday asked the Centre about the preparedness to deal with the expected Covid-19 second wave peak in mid-May, terming the mounting cases as a ‘Tsunami’, and also warned it will “hang” any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals here. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said this during a We will hang that man (anyone blocking oxygen supply) DELHI HIGH COURT special three-hour long hearing on a holiday on the issue of escalating oxygen crisis in Delhi hospitals. The court said the viral disease has a low mortality and those who have a low immunity will eventually die but the problem comes when people who could be saved are also dying.“The mortality rate needs to be reduced.” We are calling it a wave, it is actually a Tsunami, the court said, and asked the Centre about the preparedness in terms of infrastructure, hospitals, medical staff, medicines, vaccines and oxygen as on date for the peak. It asked the Centre and the Delhi government to submit a report by 26 April, the next date of hearing, on the augmentation of the medical infrastructure. (See page 3) PHASE 3 STRATEGY The Centre asked states to register additional private vaccination centres and ensure effective crowd management at sites and stressed on inoculation through ‘only online registration’ for beneficiaries in 18-45 age group states and UTs on effective implementation of the new vaccination strategy (Phase3) and to review their plans so as to strengthen the existing hospital and clinical treatment infrastructure for Covid19 patients. With regards to the Phase- 3 vaccination strategy from 1 May, the states were advised to register additional private Covid-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) on mission mode by engaging with private hospitals, hospitals of industrial establishments, industry associations, etc., the health ministry said in a statement. They have also been asked to monitor the number of hospitals that have procured vaccines and have declared stocks and prices on COWIN portal and schedule vaccination for eligible population for providing adequate visibility of vaccination slots on COWIN, the ministry said. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL Serum Institute of India, which makes the most used Covid-19 vaccine in the country, on Saturday defended pricing Covishield vaccine at 1.5 times the initial rate, saying the earlier price was based on advance funding and now it has to invest in scaling up and expanding capacity to produce more shots. Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures AstraZeneca’ vaccine Covishield at its Pune facility, earlier this week announced a price of Rs 600 per dose and at Rs 400 for state governments and any new contract by the Central government. This compared to Rs 150 per dose it charges the Central government for the existing supplies. “There was an inaccurate comparison done between the global prices of the vaccine with India,” SII said. “Covisheld is the most affordable Covid-19 vaccine available in the market today.” “The initial supply price of Covishield for all government immunisation programme, including India, has been the lowest,” it said. “The current situation is extremely dire. We have to ensure sustainability as we must be able to invest in scaling up.” (See page 4) CBI files FIR against Deshmukh, conducts searches PRESS TRUST OF INDIA The CBI, in connection with charges of bribery, started a search operation at a number of locations including the premises of Anil Deshmukh in Mumbai, Nagpur and other places NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL The CBI has registered an FIR against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in connection with allegations of bribery against him and carried out searches at various locations in Mumbai and Nagpur on Saturday, officials said. The NCP leader told reporters in Nagpur that he cooperated with the searches at his residence. The probe agency had carried out a preliminary enquiry on the orders of Bombay High Court to look into bribery allegations against him levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, officials said. P12 Mad scramble for oxygen: 20 dead in Delhi hospital Set up more private centres before Serum Institute defends Covid-19 vaccine pricing Covid jabs for 18-plus, states told PRESS TRUST OF INDIA WHEN DELHI MAKE CAPITAL OUT OF SKIPPER'S POWER Hospitals across Capital send out desperate SOS flagging their dwindling stocks of oxygen PRESS TRUST OF INDIA ties and nodal officers WORST FEARS COME TRUE WEATHER Max: 77% PRESSURE ON BIDEN TO SHIP VACCINE TO INDIA According to the officials, during the enquiry, the CBI got enough prima facie material to start a formal probe by registering a regular case against Deshmukh and other unidentified persons under the Prevention of Corruption Act. After registering the case, the CBI started a search operation at a number of locations including the premises of Deshmukh in Mumbai, Nagpur and other places, they said. On 25 March, Param Bir Singh had filed criminal public interest litigation seeking a CBI probe against Deshmukh who, he claimed, had asked police officers, including suspended cop Sachin Waze, to extort Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants. Waze is facing an NIA probe in the case of explosive- laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house in Mumbai. Singh had initially approached the Supreme Court, alleging he was transferred from the post of Mumbai police commissioner after he complained to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and other senior leaders about the “corrupt malpractices” of Deshmukh, an NCP leader. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress share power in Maharashtra. The apex court had termed the matter as quite serious but asked Singh to approach the high court. Singh then filed a PIL in the high court, seeking an “immediate, unbiased, impartial” probe by the CBI. In Mumbai, CBI teams conducted simultaneous searches at two properties linked to Deshmukh~ the state government’s ‘Dnyaneshwari’ bungalow in south Mumbai which was allotted to him when he was a minister, and his flat in Sukhada Apartment in Worli, an official said. In Nagpur, a CBI team which had arrived from Delhi on Friday night carried out searches at Deshmukh’s properties early Saturday morning.The team left around 6.30 pm. “I cooperated with the CBI team which came for searches at my house,” Deshmukh said. He had resigned as a minister after the high court asked the CBI to probe the allegations. India fights Covid battle Workers refill cylinders with medical O2 for supply for Covid patients in Kolkata Kejriwal writes to counterparts Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday urged his counterparts in other states to provide oxygen to the national capital, saying all available resources are proving to be inadequate owing to the severity of Covid 19. Virafin granted nod for Covid treatment Drug Controller General Of India (DCGI) has granted restricted emergency use approval to Zydus Cadila's Virafin for treating patients showing moderate Covid-19 symptoms, the Department of Biotechnology said on Saturday. Pak PM extends solidarity Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday expressed solidarity with the people of India battling the deadly wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying we must fight this global challenge confronting humanity together. NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL As the country struggled to cope with medical oxygen shortages in what has become its worst-ever health crisis, the government today decided to waive basic customs duty and health cess on import of oxygen and oxygen-related equipment for three months with immediate effect. It was also decided at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exempt basic customs duty on import of Covid vaccines with immediate effect for three months. The government has also directed customs officials to clear all import consignments, including life-saving drugs and oxygen equipment, used in Covid treatment on highest priority. The decision came even as health facilities in defence undertakings were opened to civilian Covid patients and IAF aircraft crisscrossed to carry empty oxygen tankers and replenish the fast-draining medical amenities as the pandemic situation turned even grimmer in India, with hospitals swamped and active cases crossing the 25-lakh mark. “In order to augment their production and availability and to meet the rising demand, it was decided to grant full exemption from Basic Customs Duty and health cess on import of the following items related to Oxygen and Oxygen related equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect,” a press release from the Finance Ministry said. The items include medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator along with flow meter, regulator, connectors and tubing vacuum pressure swing Alabsorption (VPSA) and pressure NO BARRIERS Oxygen tankers loaded on a train wagon arrive from Vishakapatnam via the special Oxygen Express, in Nashik on Saturday The government has also directed customs officials to clear all import consignments, including life-saving drugs and oxygen equipment PM Modi directed the Revenue Department to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipment swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, cryogenic oxygen air separation units (ASUs) producing liquid/ gaseous oxygen. Oxygen canister, oxygen filling systems, oxygen storage tanks, oxygen cylinders, including cryogenic cylinders and tanks besides any other device from which oxygen can be generated are among several other items under this category. The PM directed the Revenue Department to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipment. The Department of Revenue has nominated Gaurav Masaldan, Joint Secretary, Customs, as the nodal officer for issues related to customs clearance oxygen related items. The government had previously waived customs duty on imported Remdesivir injections and the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) to boost supplies. IAF planes are bringing in cryogenic oxygen tanks from Singapore and also transporting oxygen tanks across India to reduce travel times. Delhi tally tops 1m; record 357 fresh deaths logged STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL Reeling under a catastrophic Covid storm with its healthcare system teetering on the brink of collapse due to acute shortage of beds, oxygen, and other critical care resources, the national capital today recorded 24,103 fresh coronavirus infections and 357 fatalities ~ its highest-ever single-day Covid deaths tally ~ according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin. The city’s positivity rate stood at 32.27 per cent while active cases mounted to 93,080. Delhi’s Covid caseload jumped to 10,04,782 while its death toll soared to 13,898, the health bulletin stated. The city had yesterday logged 24,331 coronavirus cases and 348 deaths while its positivity rate was 32.43 per cent India scene: For the third day in a row, India set a global daily record of new Covid-19 infections on Saturday, adding 3,46,786 coronavirus cases over the previous 24 hours, which pushed the country’s tally of infection to 1,66,10,481, while active cases crossed the 25-lakh mark. According to Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday, the death toll rose to 1,89,544 with 2,624 more fatalities, another record, in a day. Confirmed active cases reached 25,52,940 and comprise 15.37 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has further dropped to Justice N V Ramana sworn in as 48th Chief Justice of India PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 24 APRIL Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana was sworn in as the 48th Chief Justice of India by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday. He took the oath at a brief ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad were among those present at the ceremony. Justice Ramana took the oath in English in the name of God. After the swearing in, President Kovind congratulated Justice Ramana and extended him best wishes for a successful tenure. Justice Ramana was appointed as the chief justice of India on 6 April. Born on 27 August, 1957, in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district, Justice Ramana appointed as a permanent judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on 27 June, 2000, and functioned as acting Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court from 10 March, 2013 to 20 May, 2013. Justice Ramana was elevated as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on 2 September, 2013 and was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 17 February, 2014. He will demit office on 26 August, 2022. Ramana succeeds Justice S A Bobde who demitted office on Friday. 1,66,10,481 25,52,940 3,46,786 2,19,838 1,89,544 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 08.00 A.M. SATURDAY 24 APRIL 2021 83.49 per cent. Eight dead in U’khand avalanche GOPESHWAR, 24 APRIL Eight Border Roads Organisation (BRO) workers were killed, seven injured and 31 went missing in an avalanche near the Indo-China border in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, officials said. A total of 430 BRO workers were at the road-construction site when the avalanche occurred on Friday, Uttarakhand Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar said. Two bodies were recovered from the site in the Sumna area of Niti Valley on Friday night, while six more were recovered on Saturday, PTI he added.
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