WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 21 JULY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |`5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR US’ CHINA STRATEGY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ITS FRIENDS, ALLIES: W. HOUSE KHARGE: GOVT’S COVID DEATH TOLL FIGURES ‘FALSE’ LINGAYATS EXTEND SUPPORT TO BSY P4 P5 P10 Generally cloudy sky with very light rain/ thundershowers. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 34 and 25 degrees Celsius respectively. Govt: One-third still t vulnerable to Covid RAINFALL: 006.3 Mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY 67.6 per cent of people aged above 6 have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies Max: 98% SNS & PTI WEATHER Min: 79% TEMPERATURE Max: 31.9°C (-3) SUN RISES 05:37 hrs MOON RISES 16:51 hrs NEW DELHI, 20 JULY Min: 24.0°C (-3) SUN SETS 19:19 hrs MOON SETS 03:20 hrs THUMBNAILS Delhi Police detain an Indian Youth Congress activist during a protest over Pegasus near SNS Parliament on Tuesday. Raj Kundra remanded in police custody: A Mumbai court on Tuesday remanded businessman Raj Kundra in police custody till 23 July in a case related to alleged creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps. Kundra, actor Shilpa Shetty's husband, was arrested Monday night. The police told a magistrate's court that the businessman was economically gaining by making and selling pornographic material. Govt seeks Parl nod for `23,675 crore extra spending: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday sought Parliament nod to spend a net additional Rs 23,675 crore, including Rs 17,000 crore for the health ministry, in the current financial year. As per the first batch of supplementary demands for grants tabled in the Lok Sabha by Sitharaman, although the gross additional expenditure is over Rs 1.87 lakh crore in 2021-22, the actual cash outgo will only be Rs 23,674.81 crore. A round 40 crore people or a third of the population are still vulnerable to Covid-19 infection as a nationwide survey found two-thirds Indians aged above six to have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, the government said on Tuesday as it stressed there is no room for complacency in the fight against the pandemic. Findings of the ICMR’s 4th national Covid sero survey show there is a ray of hope, the government said. The Indian Council of Medical Research conducted the latest survey in June-July. Addressing a press conference, a senior official said two-thirds or 67.6 per cent of India’s population aged above 6 were found to have SARSCoV-2 antibodies in latest national sero survey. A third of the population did not have SARSCoV-2 antibodies, which means about 40 crore people are still vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, the official said. According to the government, 85 per cent of the surveyed healthcare workers had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and one-tenth of HCWs were still unvaccinated. The survey covered 28,975 people and 7,252 healthcare workers. The fourth round of the survey was conducted in the 70 districts across Four vaccine candidates in human trial stage: Govt Daily Covid cases lowest in 125 days NEW DELHI, 20 JULY SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 20 JULY Four Covid-19 vaccine candidates are at different stages of human trials while one, developed by Genique Life Sciences, is in the advanced pre-clinical stage, Union Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday. In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Singh said Cadila Healthcare Ltd’s DNA-based vaccine candidate is in phase III clinical trial. Biological E Ltd’s vaccine candidate is also in phase three clinical trial. Bharat Biotech International Ltd’s Adeno intranasal vaccine candidate is in phase three clinical trial, while Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd’s mRNA-vaccine candidate is in Phase one clinical trial. PTI 21 states. “Travel only if fully vaccinated,” it said. The ICMR also suggested that it would be wise to consider reopening primary schools first as children can handle viral infection much better. “Children can handle viral infection much better as they have lower number of ace receptors,” it said. India recorded 30,093 new cases, the lowest in 125 days, taking the total caseload to 3,11,74,322, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday. The death toll climbed to 4,14,482 with 374 daily fatalities, the lowest in 111 days, while the active cases have declined to 4,06,130. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,03,53,710, the data stated. Under the nationwide vaccination drive, 41.18 crore have been administered vaccine. More than 45K mucormycosis cases: A total of 45,432 cases of mucormycosis have been reported by states and UTs till 15 July of which 21,085 affected people are receiving treatment and 4,252 have died, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday. A large majority of mucormycosis patients (84.4 per cent) had reported a history of Covid-19, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in a written reply. Most common presentations of mucormycosis include Rhinocere- 3,11,74,322 4,06,130 30,093 45,254 4,14,482 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 20 JULY 2021 bral (77.6 per cent), Cutaneous (4.3 per cent) and Pulmonary (3.0 per cent). In the wake of second wave of Covid-19, an increased number of mucormycosis cases were reported and the health ministry after a thorough gap analysis and consultations took a number of steps to address the problem. Delhi cases: The national capital on Tuesday recorded five deaths and 44 positive fresh cases of Covid-19, according to the Delhi government's latest health bulletin. The death toll due to Covid-19 rose to (SEE P 2) 25,035. ‘No deaths due to oxygen scarcity specifically logged in second wave’ LS adjourned for the day after Opp uproar over Pegasus, to meet after Eid holiday NEW DELHI, 20 JULY SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 20 JULY No deaths due to lack of oxygen were specifically reported by states and UTs during the second wave, the government informed Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Responding to a question on whether a large number of Covid-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave, Minister of State for Health Bharati Praveen Pawar noted that health is a state subject and states and UTs regularly report the number of cases and deaths to the Centre. “No deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and UTs,” Pawar said in a writSee Pg 5 ten reply. The Pegasus snooping controversy rocked the Lok Sabha proceedings on Tuesday, leading to continued disruptions and repeated adjournments of the House. Soon after the House assembled at 3 pm, the opposition members again started raising slogans on the Pegasus snooping issue, forcing the chair to adjourn the House for the day. The Lok Sabha will now meet on Thursday after the Eid holiday. This was the second day of the Monsoon Session that the House could not transact any legislative business. On Monday, the Opposition had disrupted the proceedings over a variety of issues, includ- ing price rise and three farm laws. Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned twice after the Opposition created a ruckus over snooping and other issues. Opposition members, including from the Congress and the TMC, started raising slogans and showing placards to attack the government on the snooping issue as soon as the House met for the day at 11 am. The proceedings lasted for barely five minutes. The same scene was witnessed when the House reassembled at 2 pm. One of the placards with the slogan in Hindi read that while people are suffering from unemployment, the government is busy with “jasoosi” (spying). Some Congress members were holding placards about Rahul Gandhi's name appearing in the list of potential targets of snooping. TMC members alleged that party MP Abhishek Banerjee’s phone was also under surveillance. Banerjee is the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. YSRCP members also flagged the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh. Speaker Om Birla said it is not right to disrupt the House and the government is ready to give answers on any matter. “Please go back to your seats. I will facilitate a debate on every issue. (But) sloganeering is not right. The government is ready to debate on whatever issues you want to debate on,” he said. The issue of “snooping” using the Pegasus spyware has snowballed into a massive political row in Parliament and outside as various parties are demanding a thorough investigation and sacking of Home Minister Amit Shah, while the government maintains that it had nothing to do with it. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, BJP ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel, as also former election commissioner Ashok Lavasa and poll strategist Prashant Kishor were among those whose phone numbers were listed as potential targets for hacking through the Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies, an international media consortium has reported. WORLD SHOULD SEE SAFE OLYMPICS: SUGA P12 Counter Opp ‘lies’ on Covid, vax scarcity: PM to BJP MPs SNS & AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 20 JULY Hitting out at the opposition parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said political rivals are spreading lies about Covid-19 and shortage of vaccine. The Prime Minister Modi asked BJP MPs to counter lies spread by the opposition parties. Prime Minister Modi was speaking at the BJP's Parliamentary Party meeting. Sources said that the Prime minister asked the party MPs to focus on highlighting the truth and tell the people about government’s work in managing Covid pandemic. It is learnt that the Prime Minister said that Congress only believe in the politics of obstruction and don’t want to debate and discuss. “The Prime Minister said that despite losing polls, Congress is not raising issues nor expanding its base. They only believe in the politics of obstruction and don’t want to debate and discuss over issues,” a BJP MP said. Prime Minister expressed concern over low rate of vaccination of frontline workers and stressed that there is no shortage of vaccine. Sources said that the Prime Minister told the party MPs that while opposition indulge in politics over pandemic, the BJP continues to serve the humanity. According to sources, the Prime Minister asked the BJP MPs to tell the truth to the people and explain the work of the government. “The Prime Minister also told us that despite losing grounds everywhere, Congress is more concerned about us than themselves,” another BJP MP said. The Prime Minister also asked the BJP MPs to regularly attend the Parliament and to Finalised `23K-cr package for children in case of 3rd wave: Mandaviya tells RS STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 20 JULY Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya today informed the Rajya Sabha that the government had finalized a Rs 23,000 crore package to protect children in case the country faced a third wave. Replying to a debate on the Covid-19 situation, he informed the House that the package was prepared in consultation with states which will ensure provision of children wards at the district-level. All blocks will get ambulances and the required staff will be engaged in advance, he said. He said vaccine production had increased and the country has taken several steps to expedite manufacturing. The minister said in the first lockdown the objective was to save lives as the country lacked equipment, PPEs, laboratories and therekeep themselves updated about the issues that the opposition is likely raise on the floor of house. Congress, SAD to skip allparty meeting on Covid The main opposition Congress said it wouldn’t attend the government’s meeting with floor leaders of all parties on Covid19 later on Tuesday. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress is not boycotting the meeting, but it will not attend as it wants VAN HORN, TEXAS Jeff Bezos blasted into space on Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft. The Amazon founder was accompanied by a handpicked group: his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas -the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space. Named after America’s first astronaut, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket soared from remote West Texas on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a date cho- sen by Bezos for its historical significance. He held fast to it, even as Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson pushed up his own flight from New Mexico in the race for space tourist dollars and beat him to space by nine days. Unlike Branson’s piloted rocket plane, Bezos’ capsule was completely automated and required no official staff on board for the anticipated 10-minute, up-and-down flight. Blue Origin was shooting for an altitude of roughly 106 km, more than 10 miles 16 km higher than Branson’s July 11 ride. The 60-foot booster accelerated to Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound before separating and aiming for a vertical landing. The passengers were expected to get three to four minutes of weightlessness to float around the spacious white capsule.Then the window-filled capsule was going to head to a parachute touchdown on the desert floor, with Bezos and his guests briefly experiencing nearly six times the force of gravity on the way back. Sharing Bezos’ surreal adventure was Wally Funk, from the Dallas area, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA’s all-male astronaut corps in the early 1960s but never made it into space. Joining them on the ultimate joyride was the company’s first paying customer, Oliver Daemen, a last-minute fill-in for the mystery winner of a $28 million auction. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 20 JULY Coming down hard on the Kerala government for relaxing Covid restrictions for Bakrid, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the government’s affidavit has disclosed a “sorry state of affairs”, and pointed out relaxation for even one day in an area having critical spread of infection was “wholly uncalled for”. A bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai said: “We may only indicate that this affidavit discloses a sorry state of affairs as has been stated herein above, and does not in any real manner safeguard the Right to life and health guaranteed to all the citizens of India under Article 21 of the Constitution.” The bench added it may also be pointed out that the “relaxation for one day to a category D (area having critical spread of infection) area was wholly uncalled for”. Citing the Kerala government’s 17 July notification relaxing Covid curbs for Bakrid, the bench said: “We may also indicate that if as a result of the notification dated 17 July 2021, any untoward spread in the Covid-19 disease takes place, any member of the public may bring this to the notice of this court, after which this court will take necessary action against those who are responsible.” The bench said, pressure the government to present the facts on the floor of both houses of Parliament. The ruling BJP’s erstwhile ally SAD will also not attend the meeting, its president Sukhbir Singh Badal said. The government has called the meeting of floor leaders of all parties on the Covid-19 management. The health secretary is expected to make a presentation in the meeting, which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. Pegasus row: Cong demands JPC probe Bengal: All Madhyamik candidates pass PRESS TRUST OF INDIA KOLKATA, 20 JULY NEW DELHI, 20 JULY The Congress on Tuesday stepped up its attack on the government over the Pegasus snooping controversy and demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. The opposition party along with other parties also stalled proceedings of both houses of Parliament while raising the issue. Opposition members raised uproar in both houses and demanded a thorough probe into the charges of snooping on journalists, politicians, ministers, judges and others using Israeli Pegasus spyware. Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said the government should clearly tell whether it has purchased the Pegasus spyware or not and hold a joint parliamentary probe. “We had given adjournment notices in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha to hold a discussion on the violation of national security and the fundamental rights under the Constitution over the phone tapping issue,” Gohil told reporters. He said the party’s demand is that the government should order a JPC probe into the snooping and phone tapping issue. “The minister, who was trying to create confusion on the matter should answer clearly whether the government has bought the Pegasus spyware or not,” he said. The government had on Monday categorically rejected in Lok Sabha allegations of snooping on politicians, journalists and others. Blue Origin’s Bezos soars into space SC blasts Kerala govt on Bakrid relaxations ASSOCIATED PRESS fore lockdown was imposed. The country had exported vaccines and later India got succour from those nations, he added. The government did not say if any state had failed in the fight against the pandemic, he said, adding that arrangements have been made for adequate oxygen supplies. The government had moved into action when the first case of Covid-19 was recorded in January 2020. Instructions were given at the airports to screen passengers, the minister said. Initiating the discussion, leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said that the government had not given the right data on the number of deaths. The Government did not implement or acknowledge any of the suggestions given. Several Elders recalled the days of oxygen shortages and the death of people outside hospitals. groups of all kinds, religious or otherwise, cannot in any manner, interfere with this most precious fundamental right of all the citizens of India. Defending its decision to relax lockdown norms for Bakrid festivities, the Kerala government told the top court that the curbs had resulted in an economic slowdown, pushing the population in a lot of misery, and also caused immense distress among traders amid during the festival. The government said the traders were expecting that festival sales would alleviate their miseries by a certain extent and they had stocked up goods for this purpose much earlier. “The organisation of traders started to agi- tate against the stringent curbs implemented... and declared that they will open shops all over the state flouting regulations,” it said. However, the top court did not pass any order quashing the notification issued by the Kerala government. The application against the Kerala government’s decision to relax Covid curbs was moved by PKD Nambiar, a Delhi resident, in the suo motu case already initiated by the SC in connection with Uttar Pradesh government’s decision on Kanwar Yatra. The application submitted despite discontentment shown by the SC over the yatra, Kerala government is acting casually by relaxing Covid norms. The West Bengal Board Class 10 examination result was declared on Tuesday with a record 100 per cent pass percentage and 90 per cent of the students securing more than 60 per cent or more marks in the new evaluation method. The Madhyamik Pariksha (Class 10) examination could not be held this year due to the pandemic situation and the evaluation was based on the candidate's performance in the 2019 class examination in Class 9 and internal assessment for every subject in class 10 on a 50:50 basis. West Bengal Board of Secondary Education President Kalyanmoy Ganguly told a press meet that this 100 per cent pass of candidates is an all time record. Last year's pass percentage was 86.34 per cent. Ganguly said if a candidate is not happy with the results, he/she will be able to sit for tests once the Covid19 situation improves but in that situation this result won't be valid any more. Around 10 lakh students secured 60 per cent or more marks in the new evaluation method. At least 79 candidates got 697 marks out of 700 in the evaluation of this year's Madhyamik Pariksha. Asked if 79 candidates will then be considered as occupying first rank, Ganguly said "I can say this much that these students have been awarded 697 marks. And there is no merit list this year unlike in past." Number of girl students was higher than boys this year. While 6,13,849 females were slated to sit for the papers, the number of males was Details on Pg 5 4,65,850.
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