THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 29 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 TIME TO TALK OLYMPIC CHALLENGE P6 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 42 and 22 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 69% P7 Govt denies claims of CoWin portal crashing, says over 80 lakh people registered in 3 hours PRESS TRUST OF INDIA A Min: 22.3°C (-2) SUN SETS 18:55 hrs MOON SETS 08:14 hrs THUMBNAILS Health workers and patients at an Emergency Covid-19 care centre organised by Delhi government at Shahnai banquet Hall nearLNJP SNS hospital in the capital on Wednesday. Kotkhai rape case: A court here on Wednesday convicted a 28-year-old man in connection with the rape and murder of a 16-year-old schoolsgirl in a forest in Himachal Pradesh's Kotkhai town four years ago. Special Judge Rajeev Bhardwaj held Anil Kumar alias Nillu alias Charani guilty of rape and murder under the Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of the POCSO Act. The hearing for deciding quantum of his sentence has been scheduled for May 11. People wait in a queue to receive Covid-19 vaccines at SNS M.R. Bangur Hospital in Kolkata on Wednesday. ciency. People are registering on the platform, mostly of age-group 18-44. It witnessed more than 80 lakh people registered themselves on the portal, within 3 hours from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm,” it said. As the registration opened up at 4 p.m, some people on social media complained that the portal was not responding, while others complained that it had crashed. At 4.35 pm, a tweet from the verified Twitter handle of the Aarogya Setu mobile application said the CoWIN portal is working and that there was a minor glitch at 4 pm, which was fixed. At 4.54 pm, a tweet from the same handle stated, “Vaccination appointments for 18-plus will be possible once the state governments and private vaccination centres schedule vaccination sessions. Registration is happening on cowin. gov.in.” After registration, taking an appointment to get a Covid-19 vaccine jab would be mandatory for those aged between 18 and 44 years as walk-ins will not be allowed initially, officials had said. Those above 45 years of age can still avail the facility of on-site registration to get vaccinated. Over 1 cr vaccine doses Serum cuts vaccine still with states: Centre price for states PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 28 APRIL SC orders arrested scribe shifted: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift journalist Siddique Kappan, suffering from various ailments and arrested last year on way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after being gang raped, to a hospital in Delhi for better medical treatment. The court also directed the state to provide medical treatment to the Kerala-based scribe. P12 Registration rush for 18+ jab MHA notifies s the registration of all citizens above 18 years of age for vaccination against Covid-19 started on the CoWIN portal at 4 pm on Wednesday, many people took to social media to complain about the technical problems they faced trying to register for the third phase of the inoculation drive scheduled to begin from May 1. The Union health ministry, however, clarified that the media reports that the server has crashed “are incorrect and are without any basis”. “The server supporting the CoWin digital portal continues to work smoothly at its highest effi- TEMPERATURE Max: 42.2°C (+4) SUN RISES 05:42 hrs MOON RISES 21:40 hrs P6 NEW DELHI, 28 APRIL Min: 22% MORGAN LEADS KNIGHTS INTO FRESH BATTLE 100 DAYS ON AND SO FAR, SO GOOD Over one crore Covid-19 vaccine doses are available with states and union territories and they will receive an additional 57,70,000 doses within the next three days, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday. The central government has so far provided 15,95,96,140 vaccine doses to states and union territories free of cost. Of this, the total consumption, including wastage, is 14,89,76,248 doses, it said. More than one crore vaccine doses or 1,06,19,892 doses are still available with states and UTs, the ministry said. “Over 57 lakh (57,70,000) vaccine doses PRESS TRUST OF INDIA will be received in addition by the states/UTs within the next three days,” it said. It noted that recently some media reports quoting some Maharashtra government officials pointed out that vaccines in the state have finished, adversely impacting the vaccination drive in the state. “It is clarified that the total Covid vaccine doses received by Maharashtra as on April 28 (at 8 a.m.) are 1,58,62,470. Of this, the total consumption, including wastage (0.22 per cent), was 1,53,56,151. The balance of 5,06,319 vaccine doses is still available with the state,” it said. It said that 5,00,000 doses of vaccine are in the pipeline for delivery in the next three days to Maharashtra. NEW DELHI, 28 APRIL Serum Institute of India (SII) ~ maker of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine ~ on Wednesday announced a cut in price of the jab it plans to sell to states to Rs 300 per dose from the earlier Rs 400. This follows widespread criticism of its pricing policy as it had sold the initial doses of Covishield to the Central government at Rs 150 per dose. SII's CEO Adar Poonawalla announced the “philanthropic” gesture on Twitter. “As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of @SerumInstIndia, I hereby reduce the price to the states from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose, effective immediately; this will save thou- SII had defended the pricing of the vaccine, saying the earlier price was based on advance funding and now it has to invest in scaling up and expanding capacity. sands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives,” he said. The central government on Monday had asked SII and Bharat Biotech to lower the prices of their Covid-19 vaccines amid criticism from various states who accused the companies of profiteering during such a major crisis. Putin assures PM of Russia’s support NEW DELHI, 28 APRIL Expressing solidarity with the people and the government of India, Russian President Vladimir Putin today assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his country would extend all possible support to India in fighting the current wave of Covid19 in the country. Putin spoke to Modi this evening and discussed the evolving Covid-19 situation. Modi told him that the prompt Russian support to India was a symbol of the enduring partnership between the two countries, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. The two leaders noted the ongoing cooperation between the two countries to fight the global pandemic. Approval for emergency use of Sputnik-V vaccine in India was appreciated by President Putin. The two leaders decided to establish a new 2+2 dialogue at the ministerial level, comprising foreign and defence Ministers from the two countries, the SNS MEA said. Act: Delhi ‘govt’ now means L-G SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 28 APRIL Delhi's lieutenant governor has become the effective in-charge of the national capital with the Centre notifying a new law making it clear the city's elected government will now have to seek the opinion of the L-G before any executive decision. The Union Home Ministry's notification giving effect to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 came on Tuesday night, as the city battles a ferocious Covid-19 wave and its healthcare system is stretched to breaking point. The provisions of the Act came into effect from April 27, according to the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Three key subjects in Delhi ~ public order, police and land ~ are already in the hands of the Central government while sectors such as health, education, agriculture, forest and transport are with the city government. The MHA notification seals the primacy given to the L-G, a nominee of the Central government, in the Act. The Delhi government will now have to take permission from the L-G before taking any action over subjects which were under its domain. According to the legislation, the “government” in Delhi now means the “Lieutenant Governor”. “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the When the Bill was passed by Parliament last month, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had termed it a sad day for Indian democracy Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act 2021 (15 of 2021), the Central Government hereby appoints the 27th April 2021 as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” stated the notification signed by additional secretary in the MHA, Govind Mohan. The act has been notified at a time the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government are under the spotlight over their handling of the pandemic and the subsequent scarcity of oxygen, hospital beds and essential medicines. On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court came down heavily on the AAP government over its “failure” to check black marketing of oxygen cylinders and crucial medicines needed by Covid-19 patients. If the state cannot handle the situation, it will ask the Central government to take over gas re-filler units as it can't let people die, the (SEE P2) court said. 6.4 magnitude quake strikes People will keep dying, you’ll keep sitting: Delhi HC to Centre Assam, 10 aftershocks follow Govt to procure 1 lakh oxygen SNS & PTI NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 28 APRIL SNS & PTI GUWAHATI, 28 APRIL A series of earthquakes jolted Assam and most of the Northeastern states on Wednesday, causing extensive damage to buildings and forcing people to scamper out of their homes. There were no immediate reports of deaths directly due to the tremors, but two persons ~ one each in Kamrup Metropolitan and Nagaon districts ~ died due to shock and heart attack around the time of the earthquake, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said. According to initial reports, 10 people suffered injuries in four districts as the first quake of 6.4 magnitude struck Tezpur, the headquarters of Sonitpur district, at 7.51 am, the ASDMA said in a statement. The impact was felt in several Northeastern states, parts of West Bengal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The first quake was followed in quick succession by lesser intensity tremors of 4.7, 4, and two 3.6 magnitudes at 8.03 am, 8.13 am, 8.25 am and 8.44 am, Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) Deputy Director Sanjay O'neil Shaw said. Another earthquake of 3.2 magnitude hit Assam's Nagaon district at 10.05 am. A while later, another jolt of 3.4 magnitude hit Tezpur at 10.39 am, he added. At 12.32 pm, the eighth quake of 2.9 magnitude hit Morigaon. It was followed by three more earthquakes, hitting Sonitpur district again, Shaw said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal twice to inquire about the destruction caused by the earthquake and assured him all help from the Centre. Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed its unhappiness with the Centre over nonsupply of the full oxygen quota allocated to the national capital and objected to a “change” in Covid treatment protocol on Remdesivir use, saying “it appears you want people to die”. “This is wrong. This is a complete non-application of mind. Now people who do not have oxygen will not get Remdesivir either,” Justice Prathiba M Singh said when the central government submitted that under the Covid treatment protocol being followed now only patients on oxygen support were being given Remdesivir. “It appears you want people to die,” the judge said. Noting that the nation is fac- concentrators, 500 PSA plants STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday ordered immediate procurement of one Lakh Portable Oxygen Concentrators from PM Cares Fund to help tide over the shortage of medical oxygen needed to treat a surging number of Covid-19 patients in the country. The PM's move came amidst a major national health crisis in the wake of ris- ing cases of deaths of Covid patients due to short supply of medical oxygen to hospitals. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Modi held to discuss the measures needed to improve Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Supply for COVID management. The Prime Minister said, "The Oxygen Concentrators should be procured at the earliest and provided to states with high case burden." ing an unprecedented crisis, the court also appealed to citizens and suppliers not to hoard oxygen cylinders and medicines to avoid creating an artificial shortage. “People will keep dying and you will keep sitting,” a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi NEW DELHI, 28 APRIL Eighth & last phase of Bengal’s ballot battle today TIRTHANKAR MITRA/ SOMA MOOKHERJEE KOLKATA, 28 APRIL Curtains are poised to be rung down tomorrow on the longdrawn-out electoral exercise in Bengal, held amidst a raging second wave of the Covid19 pandemic, with the eighth and final phase of the Assembly election taking place in 35 constituencies in Kolkata North, parts of Malda, Murshidabad and Birbhum. In this last phase, the spotlight which ought to have been focussed on contestants has been turned towards Trinamul Congress strongman Anubrata Mondal, a key player in the poll battle, but not as a candidate. Known for his fiery speeches, Mondal, the TMC's district president of Birbhum has been put under surveillance from 5.00 p.m of FINAL PHASE: 35 Assembly seats 11 in Murshidabad 11 in Birbhum 6 in Malda 7 in Kolkata 27 April to 7.00 p.m on 30 April. This is the third time he is being singled out for such curbs but he appears to be unfazed. Both TMC and BJP are eyeing a toehold in one-time Congress bastions of Malda and Murshidabad. In Murshidabad, PCC chief and Behrampore MP, Adhir Ranjan. Chowdhury being in home isolation will make it a difficult poll battle for his followers wag- ing what is virtually a struggle for political existence. Apart from some heavyweight ministers, several veteran Congress leaders are also in this poll fray from Malda and Murshidabad. The state agriculture minister Ashish Banerjee is contesting from Rampurhat, state fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha from Bolpur while state women and child empower- ment minister Sashi Panja is contesting from Shyampukur and consumer affairs minister Sadhan Pandey is contesting from Maniktala. Pandey faces Kalyan Choubey of the BJP and former CPI-M MLA Rupa Bagchi. Veteran Congress leader Santosh Pathak is contesting from Chowringhee against Trinamul's Nayana Bandopadhayay. There are two changes in Jorasanko and Cossipore-Belgachhia seats for the TMC where sitting MLAs Smita Bakshi and Mala Saha have not been fielded. Former Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP and presently its Hindi cell chairman Vivek Gupta is contesting from Jorasanko in place of Smita Bakshi. In Cossipore-Belgachhia, TMC is represented by Atin Ghosh, former Member-Mayor-in-Council in Kolkata Municipal Corporation who is contesting instead of Mala Saha. Former deputy mayor, BJP's Meena Devi Purohit is also contesting from Jorasanko. Shivaji Singh Roy of BJP is contesting against Ghosh. In English Bazar, veteran Trinamul leader Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury is pitted against BJP's Sreerupa Mitra Chowdhury. Veteran Congress leader Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury's son Isha Khan Chowdhury is contesting from Sujapur, Sabina Yasmin who defected to the Trinamul is contesting from Mothabari and veteran BJP leader Sadhin Kumar Sarkar is contesting from Baisnabnagar in Malda. Congress district president Manoj Chakroborty is contesting from Beherampore. Among Congress leaders who defected to Trinamul are Ashish Marjit, seeking the public mandate from Khargram, Humayun Kabir, contesting from Bharatpur and Rabiul Alam Chowdhury, fielded from Rejinagar. Moinuddin Shams, who once belonged to Forward Bloc and became MLA from Nalhati as a TMC nominee was denied ticket this time. He has returned to the Forward Bloc and is contesting from Nalhati again. Manirul Islam who defected to Trinamul from the Forward Bloc and then switched loyality to the BJP has been denied nomination this time. But unlike Shams, he is contesting as an Independent candidate from his old constituency, Labhpur. and the votes polled by him may make the difference between victory or defeat for the Trinamul and BJP candidates. and Rekha Palli said, questioning the Centre's order which allots oxygen to the national capital from three far off plants in West Bengal and Odisha that consumes a lot of time in transportation. Another record spike: India saw a record single-day rise of 3,60,960 coronavirus cases, which pushed the total tally to 1,79,97,267, while the death toll crossed two lakh following 3,293 fresh fatalities, according to Union health ministry data updated on Wednesday. West Bengal registered a another record 17,207 fresh Covid cases and a steep surge of 77 deaths today. Kolkata recorded 3,821 cases and 22 deaths while North 24Parganas recorded 3,778 fresh cases and 16 deaths in the last 24 hours. 1,79,97,267 29,78,709 3,60,960 2,61,162 2,01,187 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESDAY 28 APRIL 2021 Counting of votes: EC imposes Covid curbs SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 28 APRIL Candidates or their agents will not be allowed inside counting halls without a negative coronavirus report or without having both Covid19 vaccine doses, the Election Commission of India said Wednesday in its guidelines for counting of votes on May 2. Issued in the wake of scathing criticism from various courts, including Madras and Calcutta High Courts, for failing to ensure Covidappropriate behaviour during the ongoing elections, the guidelines also bar public gatherings outside venues during the counting process. Counting of votes for the assembly polls in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, besides various assembly and Lok Sabha bypolls begins at 8 am on May 2. “No candidates or agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT test or without having two doses of vaccination against Covid19 and will have to produce negative RT-PCR report or RAT report or vaccination reports within 48 hours of start of counting,” the guidelines say. District election officers will organise Covid tests for candidates and their counting agents.
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.