CMYK THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 06 MAY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR XI JINPING’S LETTER NETANYAHU AGAIN FAILS TO FORM ISRAEL GOVT P9 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky. Rain or thundershower likely. Temperature likely to be in the range of 34-23 degrees Celsius. RAINFALL: Trace RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max. 90% TEMPERATURE Max: 34.0°C (-1) SUN RISES 05:01 hrs MOON RISES 01:55 hrs New moon on 12 MAHREZ FINDS MANCUNIANS’ PATH TO GLORY FACEBOOK BOARD UPHOLDS TRUMP BAN P6 P10 P12 Local trains suspended, Metro, transport services curtailed Chief minister Mamata Banerjee announces a host of restrictions across sectors in bid to control Covid spread Min. 52% STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE Min: 24.5°C (-1) SUN SETS 18:05 hrs MOON SETS 13:36 hrs May THUMBNAILS Rickshaws stand idle due to lockdown, under Barapullah Flyover, in the capital on Wednesday. KOLKATA, 5 MAY RESTRICTED FUNCTIONING Local trains to be suspended; Markets, stand- hief Minister Mamata Banerjee today announced suspension of local trains and curtailment of state-run transport and metro services by 50 per cent in Bengal from tomorrow, besides imposing a host of restrictions in all sectors to control the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the state. “We are not going for a complete lockdown at the moment but we have decided to come up with additional restrictions so as to avoid all kinds of gatherings in order to control the situation. Wearing of masks is mandatory and strict action will be taken against people who flout this. Our advisory to the people of the C state transport services, including the Kolkata Metro, halved. Attendance in state govt offices to be 50 per cent; pvt sector urged to adopt work-fromhome or staggered work schedule. Industries, tea gardens to run with 50 per cent workforce. state is to wear masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands and use sanitiser,” said Miss Banerjee at a virtual Press conference in Nabanna after holding a meeting on Covid management with state officials following her swearing-in as the state’s chief minister for a third term. The new restrictions came even as Bengal reported 18,102 fresh Covid-19 cases and 103 deaths today, alone shops to be open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m; banks to run from 10 a.m. to All-incoming air, inter2 p.m, jewellery state bus, train passengers shops from 12 p.m. required to possess negto 3 p.m. ative RT-PCR test report. taking the total Covid case count to 9,16,635 and death toll to 11,847. Movement of local trains will be suspended from tomorrow and state transport, including Kolkata Metro, will function at 50 per cent capacity. “We can’t allow overcrowding in local trains. As it is, four to five lakh came from outside the state and spread the virus here,” Miss Banerjee said. According to government sources, the KOLKATA, 5 MAY Soon after being swornin as chief minister of Bengal for a third term, Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting free Covid vaccination for all, ensuring adequate supply of essential drugs and hiking allocation of medical oxygen for the state. Miss Banerjee told the media she has asked Mr Modi to come up with a transparent policy on allocation of vaccines, medicines and oxygen. “We have vaccinated I.5 crore people and are providing two lakh doses per day.We had asked for three crore doses but the Centre gave us 1.5 lakh as if it is charity. Our oxygen is being given away to other states,” she said. SNS (See Page 3) Third wave of Covid inevitable: Govt SUBRATA DUTTA THIRD INNINGS Oli govt loses majority: Nepal’s embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli-led government on Wednesday lost majority support in the House of Representatives after the CPN (Maoist Center) led by Pushpakamal Dahal “Prachanda” officially withdrew support to it. The move comes two days after Prime Minister Oli said he would seek a Vote of ConfiP9 dence in the House on 10 May. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 5 MAY MHA reminder to state: The home ministry dispatched a terse reminder to the West Bengal government on Wednesday to submit a detailed report on the post-poll violence in the state, warning it that the matter will be taken “seriously” in case it fails to do so, and asked it to take necessary measures to stop such incidents “without any loss of time”. Jaishankar delegation: Members of the delegation accompanying External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to the UK have tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the minister to take his remaining schedule in London including his attendance at a G7 gathering, in virtual mode. suspension of local trains will be for a period of 14 days. Miss Banerjee said that all markets, retailers and standalone shops will now function only from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 5 to 7 in the evening. Shopping complexes, gyms, cinema halls, beauty parlours and others have been ordered shut. Banks have been allowed to operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. while jewellery shops can remain open maximumof50peopleforcultural and religious purposes will be allowed but only with prior permission. The government also made it mandatory for flight passengers to carry RTPCR negative reports from 7 May. “Nobody will be allowed at airports without RT-PCR negative reports, not older than 72 hours. Passengers who are affected with Covid will be sent to 14-day quarantine and the arrangement has to be made by airport authority. Reports of fake certificates are coming up so we will conduct random surveys,” she said. Also, random checking will be done in inter-state buses and long distance buses. RT-PCR negative reports will be required for such passengers and train passengers as well. from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Home delivery of food and other commodities will be encouraged and government-run ‘Sufal Bangla’ stores will be increased, she said. Miss Banerjee said attendance in all state government offices will now be 50 per cent and urged the private sector to allow employees to ‘work from home’ or follow a staggered work schedule. Operations in industries, factories and tea gardens will be allowed with a 50 per cent workforce. Emergency and essential services including health, fire services, law and order, electricity, telecom and others have been excluded from the purview of these restrictions. Social, cultural, academic and political gatherings have been prohibited. A gathering of a CM writes to PM on vax, medicines, O2 Miss Mamata Banerjee being sworn-in as chief minister of West Bengal for a third term by the Governor of West Bengal, Jagdeep Dhankhar, during a ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on Wednesday. BISWAJIT GHOSHAL The government on Wednesday said that a third wave of coronavirus pandemic was “inevitable”, although a time-frame for it could not be predicted. In a press briefing by the Ministry of Health Affairs on Wednesday, officials said the long Covid wave of such “ferocity” that the country was experiencing currently “was not predicted”. Twelve states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, have more than 1 lakh active Covid cases, the government said. Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Bihar are among the states that show increasing trend in daily cases, it said. The government also said that 24 states and UTs show more than 15 per cent Covid positivity rate. “Phase three is inevitable given the higher levels of circulating virus, but it is not clear on what time-scale this phase three will occur. We should be prepared for new waves,” said K Vijay Raghavan, the principal scientific advisor to the Centre. A record 3,780 fresh Covid-19 fatalities were registered in a single day, taking the death toll to 2,26,188, while 3,82,315 new coronavirus infections were recorded, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. With the fresh cases, the total tally of Covid-19 cases in the country climbed to 2,06,65,148. Union health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said that the foreign aid coming from abroad is being monitored by a group of senior officials.“Our technical wing has made guidelines to see that what hospital would the equipment be suitable for. The equipment is being sent to hospitals where an immediate need has been felt,” he said. Agarwal also said that 11 districts in Maharashtra are showing continuous decline in Covid cases since the last 14 days, while some districts like Satara and Solapur show a continued increase in such cases over the last two weeks. 2,06,65,148 34,87,229 3,82,315 3,38,439 2,26,188 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESAY 05 MAY 2021 13 patients dead in TN hospital, oxygen ‘glitch’ blamed SC asks Centre to place plan to Maha law for Maratha quota scale up oxygen supply to Delhi struck down as unconstitutional CHENNAI, 5 MAY PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 5 MAY A series of 13 deaths in a row in the Government Chengalpattu Medical College hospital near Chennai on Tuesday triggered allegations that the deaths were due to nonavailability of oxygen. But officials strongly denied it. Chengalpattu Collector A John Louis acknowledged that there was a "technical glitch" on Tuesday due to low pressure in the liquid oxygen tank. But he said there were 40 oxygen cylinders using which the patients were given oxygen and all the patients died due to their illness. According to sources, starting 4 p.m. Tuesday a series of patient deaths were reported in three blocks, including in Medical ICU. Sources said that on Tuesday there was delay in refilling of oxygen. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr John Louis said, "On Tuesday there were 309 patients on oxygen support. The hospital oxygen intake per day is usually around 2.9kL but on Tuesday it went up to 4.5KL. The hospital oxygen capacity is 23KL. On Tuesday morning there was 1.4KL of oxygen and in the evening 5KL was filled. Also there were 40 oxygen cylinders kept ready to use in case there is a drop in oxygen pressure. These cylinders were used last night. I was personally monitoring it." He also clarified that among the deceased, only one was RT PCR confirmed Covid patient and others were suspected Covid patients and died due to various factors including age and other SNS comorbidities. The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to place before it a plan ~ in chart form ~ by Thursday morning as to how it will increase supply of medical oxygen to 700 MT daily for Covid patients here even as it stayed the contempt proceedings initiated by the Delhi High Court against Central officials for non-compliance of its direction. Putting officers in jail is not going to bring oxygen to the city, let us ensure lives are saved,” said a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Shah on Wednesday, terming the ongoing second wave of Covid-19 pandemic as an allIndia phenomenon. It also said nobody can dispute that the Central government is not doing anything to deal with the pandemic. The apex court conducted an urgent hearing on the Centre's plea against the High Court show-cause notice on contempt and an order seeking personal appearance of its two senior officials for failing to comply with the directions to ensure supply of 700 metric tonnes(MT) of liquid medical oxygen(LMO) to Delhi. On Tuesday, Delhi got 555 MT of the life-saving gas. The court said it will have to find ways to ensure oxygen supply to the national capital as we are answerable to people of Delhi.”We are also in Delhi. We are helpless and have been on the phone.We can imagine what citizens are going through, Justice Chandrachud said, adding that his office is hearing cries from people including lawyers seeking help. Delhi High Court, meanwhile, asked the Centre and the Delhi government to work together to create the oxygen buffer and streamline the distribution process, and said help of the armed forces can be sought “as there is grave urgency”. The court said it appeared that the Delhi government has not taken steps for creation of a buffer of LMO and for streamlining its distribution in the national capital. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli also said it is for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to explore the various possibilities to create storage facilities for LMO and oxygen cylinders in the city. It said the obligation to create an oxygen buffer fell on both the Centre and GNCTD as per the Supreme Court's April 30 order. NEW DELHI, 5 MAY The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs, terming it as unconstitutional”, and held there were no exceptional circumstances to breach the 50 per cent reservation cap set by the 1992 Mandal verdict. The top court also refused to refer the Mandal judgement to a larger bench for reconsideration, saying it has been upheld time and again by its various verdicts. A five-judge constitution With folded hands, we request the prime minister and the president to take an immediate decision on Maratha quota UDDHAV THACKERAY MAHARASHTRA CHIEF MINISTER bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan concurred on three major issues, framed during the hearing, and said the MC Gaikwad commission report which was the basis for the Maratha quota did not highlight any exceptional circumstances for grant of reservation to the community. The bench also said that appointments made in government jobs and admissions in post graduate courts after the Bombay High Court verdict of 2019 upholding Maratha quota and September 9, 2020 order of the top court staying the implementation of quota will not be affected. The bench, by a majority of 3-2 also directed the Centre to notify a fresh list of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) and said till the time notification is issued the existing list will holds its place. The judgment came on a batch of pleas challenging the Bombay High Court verdict. RBI gives relief to small borrowers, loans to vaccine makers, hospitals PRESS TRUST OF INDIA MUMBAI, 5 MAY The RBI onWednesday allowed certain individual and small borrowers more time to repay their debt and provided a Rs 50,000 crore special window to banks to lend to vaccine makers, hospitals and Covidrelated health infrastructure as it looked to cushion the pandemic's blow to the economy. The loan recast of up to two years will be available to individuals and small and medium enterprises that did not restructure their loans in 2020 and were classified as standard accounts till March 2021, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said. This facility will be available to borrowers with a total exposure of Rs 25 crore. As much as 90 per cent of SOFTENING THE BLOW Loan recast of up to two years will be available to individuals and small and medium enterprises that did not restructure their loans in 2020 and were classified as standard accounts till March 2021 the total borrowers will be covered by this restructuring, according to Indian Banks' Association. Last year, the RBI had allowed banks to restructure loans of small borrowers by extending repayment period for up to 2 years. RBI will give Rs 50,000 crore of liquidity support to banks to lend to the health-care sector, including vaccine manufacturers, importers/ suppliers of vaccines and priority medical devices, with tenors up to three years at the repo rate RBI will buy Rs 35,000 crore of bonds under the Government Securities Acquisition Programme (G-SAP) ~ India's version of quantitative easing ~ on May 20. Also announced was a special three-year longterm repo operation of Rs 10,000 crore for small finance banks (SFBs), and banks being allowed to maintain lower reserves for advances made to small borrowers. In the present recast, banks have been allowed to restructure loans through means such as extending tenure or renegotiating interest rate. Das said RBI will give Rs 50,000 crore of liquidity support to banks to lend to the healthcare sector, including vaccine manufacturers, importers/ suppliers of vaccines and priority medical devices, with tenors up to three years at the repo rate. This facility will be available until March 31, 2022. He also announced that RBI will buy Rs 35,000 crore of CMYK bonds under the Government Securities Acquisition Programme (G-SAP) ~ India's version of quantitative easing ~ on May 20. Also announced was a special three-year long-term repo operation of Rs 10,000 crore for small finance banks (SFBs), and banks being allowed to maintain lower reserves for advances made to small borrowers. Just as the economy appeared to be inching back to normalcy, India was hit by a second wave of infections in early April, prompting states and cities to restrict public movements and impose lockdowns, which have hit some businesses hard. India added 3,82,315 virus cases over the last 24 hours to reach a total of 2.06 crore, while death toll rose by a record 3,780 to 226,188, health ministry data showed. RBI has been meeting with bankers and shadow lenders (NBFCs) in recent weeks to discuss the economic situation, possible stress to balance sheets and credit flow in the system. Bankers had reportedly asked the RBI for a threemonth moratorium, particularly for retail and small borrowers. S&P Gobal Ratings on Wednesday said the second wave of Covid inflections may derail a strong recovery in Indian economy and credit conditions. It went on to project a lower than previously anticipated GDP growth rate in different scenarios. Against 11 per cent GDP growth it had projected March, S&P Ratings saw growth rate dropping to 9.8 per cent under the 'moderate' scenario where infections peak in May, and falling to as low as 8.2 per cent under 'severe' scenario under which caseload would peak only in late June. Das said the central bank sees the outlook as 'highly uncertain' and clouded with downside risks, but does not see a major change to inflation forecast. “As the financial year 2020-21 (April 2020 to March 2021) ~ the year of the pandemic ~ was drawing to a close, the Indian economy was advantageously poised, relative to peers. India was at the foothills of a strong recovery, having regained positive growth, but more importantly, having flattened the infection curve. In a few weeks since then, the situation has altered drastically,” he said.
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