WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 28 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 A FACT OF HISTORY CAN’T ALLOW INDIA TO BECOME ‘BATTLEFIELD’, SAYS PILOT P5 P10 Can’t be mute spectator in national crisis, says SC P12 RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min: 23% TEMPERATURE Min: 19.6°C (-4) SUN SETS 18:55 hrs MOON SETS 07:22 hrs THUMBNAILS Construction of a temporary Covid-19 care centre begins at Ramlila Maidan, in the SNS Capital on Tuesday. Calcutta HC: Justice Rajesh Bindal, the senior most judge of Calcutta High Court will perform the duties of the Chief Justice from 29 April. It will be consequent to the retirement of Chief Justice, TBN Radhakrishnan, according to a notice of the Union ministry of law and justice issued on Tuesday. Litterateur passes away: Eminent litterateur Manoj Das passed away in Puducherry on Tuesday. He was 87. The celebrated writer was under treatment in a nursing home in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry in September last year. A team of doctors from Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research had been deputed to Puducherry for the treatment of the celebrated author. Das was born in Balasore and his first book of poems was published in 1949 when he was in high school. He did his PG in English literature from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. EC bans victory processions after counting of votes SNS & PTI Partly cloudy sky. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 42 and 19 degrees Celsius respectively. Max: 41.4°C (+3) SUN RISES 05:43 hrs MOON RISES 20:28 hrs P6 Apex court’s intervention must be understood in the correct perspective, a bench said WEATHER Max: 74% THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING RAVINDRA JADEJA RUSSIAN COURT RESTRICTS NAVALNY’S FOUNDATION SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL T erming the massive resurgence of Covid-19 cases a “national crisis”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it cannot remain a mute spectator and made clear that its suo motu proceeding on devising national policy for Covid-19 management is not meant to supplant high court hearings. A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said the high courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial boundaries and the apex court was playing a complementary role and its intervention must be understood in the correct perspective as there are some matters which transcend the regional boundaries. There is a need for top court’s intervention on certain national issues as there might be matters related to coordination between states, it said. These observations assume significance as some lawyers had criticised the apex court last Thursday for taking suo motu cognisance of the pandemic’s resurgence and issues by saying that high courts be allowed to continue with hearings. A day later on 23 April, a bench headed by the then CJI S A Bobde, who has retired, took a very strong exception to unfair criticism by some lawyers for something which was not part of its order in the suo motu case related to framing of national policy on the pandemic and said this is how institution is being destroyed. The bench on Tuesday also took note of the submissions of lawyers including senior advocate Vikas Singh on differential pricing of Covid-19 vaccines and asked the Centre to apprise it of the rationale and basis behind such pricing. On the government’s decision to vaccinate all citizens above 18 years, the court sought replies from states by Thursday as to how they intend to cope with the surge in vaccine demand and the infrastructure required for that. The bench also asked the Centre to apprise the top court of the modalities on distribution of oxygen as well as the vaccines to states and the monitoring mechanism. Last Thursday, the bench took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in Covid19 cases as also in mortality and said it expected the Centre to come out with a national plan. Observing that oxygen to patients infected with the virus is said to be SC allows Vedanta’s O2 plant to operate SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Vedanta to operate its closed oxygen plant at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, saying the order has been passed in view of “national need” for oxygen. A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said Vedanta shall not be allowed to enter and operate its copper smelting plant under the garb of this order. an essential part of treatment, the top court had said it seemed that a certain amount of panic has The top court said there should be no political bickering over the generation of oxygen by Vedanta as the country is facing a national crisis. It said the order allowing Vedanta to operate its oxygen plant would not create any equity in its favour. The apex court asked Tamil Nadu to form a panel, including the district collector and th Tuticorin superintendent of police, to monitor activities at Vedanta’s oxygen plant. been generated due to which people have approached several high courts seeking relief. NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL The Election Commission on Tuesday banned all victory processions after counting of votes in states where assembly polls were held to check the spread of coronavirus. The counting of votes will be held in Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry on May 2. While the eighth and last phase of election will be held in West Bengal on April 29, the voting exercise is over in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry. “In view of the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, the Commission has decided to make more stringent provision to be followed during the process of counting ...No victory procession after the counting on May 2 shall be permissible,” an order issued by the poll body to chief electoral officers of all states and UTs said. It also said that “Not more Direct flights from India to Oz suspended till 15 May As deaths due to Covid soar, funeral pyres are built at Sarai kale khan crematorium, in the Capital on Tuesday. SNS India gets oxygen tankers from Thailand MELBOURNE, 27 APRIL MIND-NUMBING TRAGEDY NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL Australia on Tuesday suspended all direct passenger flights from India for the next three weeks due to the unprecedented spike in Covid19 cases, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. The pause on arrivals would be reassessed before 15 May, Morrison said. The decision was taken during a meeting of Cabinet’s national security committee to consider the move to temporarily restrict flights from India along with what equipment and assistance could be sent. The flight suspension is expected to affect direct flights to Sydney and two repatriation flights scheduled to arrive in Darwin, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. There are about 9,000 Australians in India who are registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wanting to return home, PTI the report said. UK sends ventilators, After Modi-Biden phone call, US swings into action oxygen concentrators SNS & PTI SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL India today received the first batch of medical supplies from the UK to help the country fight Covid-19 surge even as the European Union (EU) and Australia announced despatch of emergency medical supplies to India. A Lufthansa flight landed this morning from the UK with consignments comprising 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators. According to reports, nine airline container loads of supplies including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 noninvasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators are being organised by the UK to be sent within this week. Time for armed forces to rise to occasion: Rawat NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL The EU said a shipment of urgently needed oxygen, medicine and equipment will be delivered in the coming days by EU member states to India, following the country’s request for support. Following consultation with the Centre, Australia announced an initial package of support including 500 noninvasive ventilators, with capacity of a total 3,000 ventilators. Australia has agreed to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables. France today announced it is sending to India oxygen generators, liquid oxygen containers, ventilators and other medical supplies by air and sea. The Biden administration seems to have gone into mission mode a mission mode approach and removed all bureaucratic bottlenecks to help India in its fight against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the country. Various wings of the US government, including the Department of Defence, Department of Health and Human Resources, the State Department, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and US Trade Representatives have been activated to not only identify India’s need but also to remove all the bureaucratic hurdles and ensure that all medical requirements start being airlifted to India as soon as possible. We are in close touch with Indian officials at all levels. We are also closely coordinating with our allies, friends, and Quad partners about how we can collectively support India in its hour of need, a senior administration official told reporters, soon after US President Joe Biden had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As requested by the Cen- tre, the US will be providing raw materials for the production of the Covishield vaccine at the Serum Institute of India, a second senior official said. Given that there is not enough supply for the entire global manufacturing effort and in light of the current crisis, we, the United States, are diverting our order to India, the official said. We did not intervene with the manufacturer to make them fill the Serum Institute’s order; we don’t have that power, the official explained. USAID and CDC will provide technical assistance and materials, and strengthen vaccine communications and support of vaccine readiness at the national and sub-national levels. Observing that India was facing a huge surge right now, a third senior official said that there’s a lot of support that the Biden administration is currently exploring. At India’s request, we’re exploring options to provide oxygen and related supplies. These are resources that India has specifically requested and are very high on their priority list, the official said. “Had a fruitful conversation with @POTUS @JoeBiden today. We discussed the evolving COVID situation in both countries in detail. I thanked President Biden for the support being provided by the United States to India,” Modi tweeted after discussions with Biden on phone. “India-US healthcare partnership can address the global challenge of Covid-19,” he added. ‘Indian strain’ spreads faster, little evidence of being more lethal: Experts SNS & PTI NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 27 APRIL NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL As India battles a catastrophic Covid-19 wave, chief of defence staff Gen Bipin Rawat on Tuesday called upon the armed forces to rise to the occasion and support the civil administrations in dealing the pandemic as well as creating mitigation facilities in a time-bound manner. “This is the time for the armed forces to rise to the occasion and support the civil administration in creating Covid mitigation facilities in a time-bound manner. Timely support at this juncture is important,” Rawat said. “Our men and women in uniform have the will and dedication to break barriers and walk the extra mile, always and PTI every time,” he said. than two persons shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorised representative receive the certificate of election from the returning officer concerned.” The decision to ban victory processions came a day after the Madras High Court came down heavily on the poll panel for failing to implement Covid guidelines during campaigning. The court called the poll panel “the most irresponsible institution” and even said its officials may be booked under murder charges. The judges also orally warned that they would not hesitate to stop the counting of votes on 2 May. The bench directed the EC to file a detailed report by 30 April on the blueprint of Covid-19 protocol to be followed on the counting day. “There should be not more than 50 per cent occupancy in counting halls,” an official explained. The ‘Indian strain’ of the coronavirus carries higher transmissibility similar to the UK variant, but there is little evidence so far of it being more lethal than the original virus, experts have said. The B.1.617 variant of SARSCoV2, also being called a ‘double mutant’ or the ‘Indian strain’, has been found prevalent largely in Maharashtra and Delhi that have been severely hit by a devastating second wave. In many cities in Maharashtra-the worst-hit state in the country-the B.1.617 variant was found in more than 50 per cent of samples while the proportion of the UK variant was 28 per cent in the second week of March, Sujeet Singh, the Director of the National Centre for Disease Control, had said last week. Anurag Agrawal, the Director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), said, “As far as we know, neither the UK variant nor this one (B.1.617) is associated with increased severity of illness or death. The UK strain is proven to have higher transmissibility and B.1.617 may have increased transmissibility.” “But this (that the B.1.617 variant has more transmissibility) has not been proven and there are several characterises to prove it and the studies have not been completed,” he said. He, however, added that there is no comparison of which variant has increased transmissibility. “But looking at Maharashtra’s experience, it looks more transmissible, but it is yet to be proven. Looking at the gener- Covid hell: Delhi sees highest-ever 381 deaths e SNS With its healthcare system tottering on the brink of collapse and its hospitals, crematoriums and graveyards continuing to be overrun by ever-spiralling Covid cases and deaths, the national capital today logged 24,149 coronavirus infections and 381 deaths — its highest-ever single-day Covid fatalities count — while the positivity rate stood at 32.72 per cent. al evidence, it (B.1.617) may be more transmissible,” he said. When asked about the increased deaths in the state in comparison to the first wave last year, Agrawal said this has direct relation with how transmissible the variant is. The more the patients are infected, the more will be the toll, he said. The B.1.617 variant has three new spike protein mutations. Soumitra Das, the Direc- tor of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, said there is no report on the lethality of B.1.617 yet. In a webinar on genome sequencing of the coronavirus last week, Das had said variants found in India are not really escaping our vaccinated sera, suggesting that the available vaccines are effective on them. In its initial result on the efficacy of the Covishield vaccine, the NEW DELHI, 27 APRIL Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology said the vaccine is effective against the B.1.617 strain. Slight dip in national daily Covid-19 cases: With 3,23,144 people testing Covid-19 positive in a day, India’s infection tally has climbed to 1,76,36,307, while the national recovery rate further dropped to 82.54 per cent, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday. The death toll mounted to 1,97,894 with 2,771 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. There has been a slight dip in the daily cases as compared to the number of new cases reported in the past few days. The active case count has increased to 28,82,204. The number of people who have recuperated surged to 1,45,56,209 while the case fatal- 1,76,36,307 28,82,204 3,23,144 2,51,827 1,97,894 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 27 APRIL 2021 ity rate has further dropped to 1.12 per cent, the data showed. A consignment of containers for the transportation of medical oxygen has arrived in India from Thailand while some more empty tankers will be airlifted from Singapore, the Union home ministry said on Tuesday. The empty oxygen containers from Thailand are the third such consignment to be flown to the country in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) transport aircraft by the home ministry amidst a surge in Covid-19 cases and a subsequent increase in demand for medical oxygen. The home ministry in a tweet said, “IAF C17 transport aircraft gearing up to airlift more empty oxygen containers from Singapore today.” All three aircraft carrying the containers landed in West Bengal. From there, they were taken to oxygen generating sites to be filled up and for onward transportation to the high-demand areas, mostly through special trains. Oxygen concentrators: Ireland announced sending 700 oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies to the country. The Irish embassy here said the oxygen concentrators are expected to reach India by Wednesday morning. Irish ambassador Brendan Ward said Ireland is in close contact with the Indian government. The Irish embassy said Ireland has also pledged to send ventilators to India and the the gesture of solidarity is a part of the European Union’s coordinated response to help the country overcome the Covid-19 surge. Govt imports 20 cryogenic t a n k e r s : The Centre has imported 20 cryogenic tankers of 10 MT and 20 MT capacity and allocated them to states to address the shortage of oxygen tankers in the country as it deals with spiralling of Covid-19 cases. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in consultation with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade under the overall guidance of the Empowered Group-II have mapped the allocation of these containers to suppliers in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, the ministry said in the PTI statement.
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