SATURDAY www.thestatesman.com 14 AUGUST 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 LAND RIGHTS RAJNATH LAUNCHES EVENTS TO MARK INDEPENDENCE DAY P4 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 36 and 27 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 78 % P6 P11 P12 Twitter meddling in India’s political process: Rahul Taliban capture Afghan south in lightning blitz Four more cities fall as Taliban complete sweep in country’s south before US troop pullout Min: 44% TEMPERATURE Max: 36.2°C (+2) SUN RISES 05:51 hrs MOON RISES 12:25 hrs AIM IS TO BE STABLE IN TECHNIQUE, SAYS NEERAJ’S COACH BIDEN EYES TOUGHER VACCINE RULES ASSOCIATED PRESS Min: 27.0°C (0) SUN SETS 19:01 hrs MOON SETS 23:53 hrs KABUL, 13 AUGUST T THUMBNAILS A rehearsal ahead of Independence Day celeSNS bration at Red Road in Kolkata on Friday. One WTC to be lit in Indian flag colours on 15 Aug: The iconic One World Trade Center, the tallest building in America that stands on the site of the 9/11 terror attacks, and two other popular New York City buildings, will be lit in colours of the Indian flag on 15 August to commemorate India's 75th Independence Day. 'No plan to appoint exclusive C’garh admin': The Union home ministry on Friday made it clear that there is no proposal under its consideration to divest the Punjab governor of responsibility as the administrator of Chandigarh. The MHA also denied Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal's claim that he raised the issue with Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Delhi logs zero Covid deaths again: No Covidlinked death was recorded in Delhi for the third consecutive day Friday, while 50 fresh coronavirus cases were logged with a positivity rate of 0.07 per cent, according to the Delhi government's latest health bulletin. The new cases were detected from 73,324 tests. In the wake of the devastating second Covid wave that had ripped through the national capital in April and May, the city had logged zero Covid deaths eight times earlier. (SEE P2) he Taliban completed their sweep of the country’s south on Friday as they took four more provincial capitals in a lightning offensive that is gradually encircling Kabul, just weeks before the US is set to officially end its two-decade war. In just the last 24 hours, the country’s second- and third-largest cities~ Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south~have fallen to the insurgents as has the capital of the southern Helmand province, where American, British and NATO forces fought some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict. The blitz through the Taliban’s southern heartland means the insurgents now hold half of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and control more than twothirds of the country~ weeks before the US plans to withdraw its last troops. The Western-backed government in the capital, Kabul, still holds a smattering of provinces in the center and east, as well as the northern city of Mazari-Sharif. While Kabul isn’t directly under threat yet, the resurgent Taliban were battling government forces in Logar province, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the capital. The US military has estimated that Kabul could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days and that the Taliban Smoke rises after fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security personnel in the AP city of Kandahar, southwest of Kabul on Thursday. could overrun the rest of the country within a few months. They have already taken over much of the north and west of the country. In the south, the insurgents swept through the three provincial capitals on Friday. Attaullah Afghan, the head of the provincial council in Helmand, said that the Taliban captured Lashkar Gah following weeks of heavy fighting and raised their white flag over governmental buildings. He said that three national army bases outside of the city remain under control of the government. Atta Jan Haqbayan, the provincial council chief in Zabul province, said the local capital of Qalat fell and that officials were in a nearby army camp preparing to leave. Bismillah Jan Mohammad and Qudratullah Rahimi, lawmakers from Uruzgan province, said local officials surrendered Tirin Kot. Taliban fighters paraded through a main square there, driving a Humvee and a pickup seized from Afghan security forces. Meanwhile, in the country’s west, Fazil Haq Ehsan, head of the provincial council in Ghor province, said its capital, Feroz Koh, also fell to the insurgents. With security rapidly deteriorating, the United States planned to send in 3,000 troops to help evacuate some personnel from the US Embassy in Kabul. Separately, Britain said about 600 troops would be deployed on a short-term basis to support British nationals leaving the country, and Canada is sending special forces to help evac- uate its embassy. Danish broadcaster TV2, quoted Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod as saying that the country’s embassy in Kabul is closing temporarily and staff are being evacuated. Germany is reducing its embassy staff in Kabul to “the operationally necessary, absolute minimum,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday. Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes amid fears the Taliban will return the country to the sort of brutal, repressive rule it imposed when it was last in power. At that time, the group all but eliminated women’s rights and conducted public executions as it imposed an unsparing version of Islamic law. An early sign of such tactics came in Herat, where insurgents paraded two alleged looters through The blitz through the Taliban’s southern heartland means the insurgents now hold half of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and control more than twothirds of the country While Kabul isn’t directly under threat yet, the resurgent Taliban were battling government forces in Logar province, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the capital. With security rapidly deteriorating, the United States planned to send in 3,000 troops to help evacuate some personnel from the US Embassy in Kabul. the streets on Friday with black makeup smeared on their faces. There are concerns that the fighting could plunge the country into civil war, which is what happened after the Soviets withdrew in 1989. Peace talks in Qatar between the Taliban and the government remain stalled, though diplomats are still meeting, as the US, European and Asian nations, including India, warned that battlefield gains would not lead to political recognition. “We demand an immediate end to attacks against cities, urge a political settlement, and warn that a government imposed by force will be a pariah state,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy to the talks. More reports on Pg 10 Twitter transfers India head to US NEW DELHI, 13 AUGUST PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 13 AUGUST Days after the temporary suspension of his Twitter account, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused the microblogging giant of “interfering in the national political process” and said shutting down of his handle amounted to “attack on the country’s democratic structure”. Intensifying the offensive against Twitter, Gandhi, in a video on YouTube titled Twitter’s dangerous game, alleged that it was not a neutral and objective platform and was “beholden to the government.” Gandhi said the company was denying millions of his followers the right to an opinion, which was unfair. “It’s obvious now that Twitter is actually not a neutral, objective platform. It is a biased platform. It’s something that listens to what the government of the day says,” he alleged. “Terming the temporary suspension as an “attack on the democratic structure of the country”, he said, “This is not an attack on Rahul Gandhi. This is not you know simply shutting Rahul Gandhi down. I have 19-20 million followers. You are denying them the right to an opinion. That’s what you are doing.” 40,120 fresh cases, 585 new deaths Biotech’s nasal vaccine gets nod for Ph 2 & 3 trials STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 13 AUGUST The country added 40,120 new coronavirus infections in a 24-hour period, taking the tally of cases to 3,21,17,826, while the recovery rate rose to 97.46 per cent, the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to Union health ministry data updated on Friday. The death toll, meanwhile, climbed to 4,30,254 with 585 new fatalities. Active cases has declined to 3,85,227 or 1.20 per cent of total cases, the lowest percentage since March 2020. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 2.04 per cent while the weekly positivity rate stood at 2.13 per cent. Among the states, Kerala reported 20,452 new positive cases and 114 Covid-19- related deaths on Friday while its daily test positivity rate stood at 14.35 per cent. Maharashtra reported 6,686 new infections and 158 fatalities. West Bengal today registered 739 fresh Covid cases and 8 deaths, with Kolkata recording 88 cases and 3 deaths. This brought the state’s total Covid case count to 15,37,185 and the death toll to 18,276, while there are 10,109 active cases. The Bengal government, meanwhile, has announced further relaxations in Covid restrictions in force in the state, allowing outdoor government programmes and permitting all shops and restaurants to stay open till 10.30 pm. Stadiums and swimming pools can reopen with 50 per cent capacity at a time. Also, all theatre halls and audito- NEW DELHI, 13 AUGUST 3,21,17,826 3,85,227 40,120 42,295 4,30,254 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. FRIDAY 13 AUGUST 2021 riums can reopen for cultural activities with 50 per cent seating capacity. See also Page 4 The first nasal vaccine against Covid-19, developed by Bharat Biotech, has received regulator’s nod for conducting phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, the Department of Biotechnology said on Friday. Phase 1 clinical trial has been completed in age group 18 to 60 years, it said. “Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine is the first nasal vaccine that has received the regulatory approval for phase 2/3 trials,” the DBT said. The regulatory approval has been received for conducting “a Phase 2 randomised, multicentric, Clinical Trial of Heterologus Prime-Boost Combination of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of BBV152 (Covaxin) with BBV154 (Ade- Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine is the first nasal vaccine that has received the regulatory approval. Phase 1 clinical trial has been completed in age group 18 to 60 years The company reports that the doses administered in the phase I clinical trial were well tolerated noviral Intranasal Covid-19 vaccine) in healthy volunteers”. This is the first of its kind Covid-19 vaccine to undergo human clinical trials in India, it said. BBV154 is an intranasal replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus SARSCoV-2 vectored vaccine. Bharat Biotech has inlicensed technology from Washington University in St Louis, US, it said. “The company reports that the doses of the vaccine administered to healthy volunteers in the phase I clinical trial has been well tolerated. No serious adverse events reported,” the DBT said. Previously, the vaccine was found to be safe, immunogenic and well tolerated in the pre-clinical toxicity studies. The vaccine was able to elicit high level of neutralising antibodies in animal studies, it added. The Mission Covid Suraksha was launched to accelerate Covid-19 vaccine development efforts as part of the third stimulus package, Atmanirbhar 3.0. SII chief in favour of Covishield booster dose PUNE, 13 AUGUST The ideal gap between two doses of Covishield is two months and another dose of the vaccine should be taken after six months, Serum Institute of India (SII) chairman Cyrus Poonawalla said on Friday. Affirming a report in medical journal Lancet that antibodies against the coronavirus created by SII’s Covishield vaccine, decrease after some time, Poonawalla told reporters: “That is why I have taken the third dose... For those who have completed the second dose, it is my request to take a booster dose after six months." PTI Single-use plastic items to be banned from 1 July ’22 Modi: Vehicle scrappage policy STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 13 AUGUST The Central government on Friday came out with new rules prohibiting the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of specific single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, from 1 July 2022. The items to be prohibited include plastic candy sticks, plates, cups and cutlery, among many others. Also, as per the new rules, the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags permitted for use will be increased from 50 to 75 microns from 30 September this year, which will be further increased to 120 120 microns with effect from 31 December 2022. In the newly notified Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules 2021 issued by the Ministry of Environ- REDUCING PLASTIC LITTER The items to be prohibited include plastic candy sticks, plates, cups and cutlery, among many others. As per the new rules, the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags permitted will be increased from 50 to 75 microns from 30 September this year Manufacture and use of ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, icecream sticks, thermocol would not be allowed ment, Forest and Climate Change, the Central government has given a detailed roadmap to phase out the use of single-use plastic items to reduce the adverse impacts of plastic litter on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. As per the notification, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of various single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from 1 July, next year. Among other items, the manufacture and use of ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration would not be allowed from July 1 next year, the environment ministry said in a statement. Government has also decided to ban the production, distribution and sale of plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, and stirrers. Plastic packaging waste, which are not covered under the phase out of identified single-use plastic items, would be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility of the Producer, importer and Brand owner (PIBO) as per the existing Plastic Waste Management Rules, said a senior officer of the Ministry. The Centre has also asked states and departments concerned to develop a comprehensive action plan for elimination of single use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, and its implementation in a time bond manner. will promote circular economy STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 13 AUGUST Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched the national vehicle scrappage policy, saying it will help phase out unfit and polluting vehicles and also promote a circular economy. The policy will give a new identity to India’s mobility and auto sector, Modi said in a video address to the Investor Summit held to invite investment for setting up vehicle scrapping infrastructure under the Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernization Programme. “We are promoting a circular economy. The aim is to develop a sustainable and environment-friendly econ- The policy will give a new identity to India’s mobility and auto sector, PM Modi said in a video address to the Investor Summit held to invite investment for setting up vehicle scrapping infrastructure under the Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernization Programme omy,” he said. “This policy will play a major role in removing unfit vehicles from our roads in a scientific manner. It will modernise the vehicular population on our city roads,” he added. In a series of tweets, Modi also urged youth to take advantage of the new vehicle scrapping policy and join the sector for employment opportunities and infrastructure development. Describing the launch of the policy as ‘a significant milestone in India’s development journey’ the Prime Minister said, “The Investor Summit in Gujarat for setting up vehicle scrapping infrastructure opens a new range of possibilities. I would request our youth & start-ups to join this programme.” “Vehicle scrapping will help phase out unfit & polluting vehicles in an environment friendly manner. Our aim is to create a viable #circulareconomy & bring value for all stakeholders while being environmentally responsible,” Prime Minister Modi further tweeted. Twitter has transferred India head Manish Maheshwari, against whom an FIR was registered in Uttar Pradesh in connection with a probe related to a video of an alleged hate crime, to the US. While the company did not specify any reason for the change, it said Maheshwari will move to the US as Senior Director and focus on new markets in his new role. Twitter has been facing flak over the past many months for its various actions taken on tweets and accounts of high-profile users as well as delay in compliance with the IT rules that came into effect PTI in May this year. Taking a swipe at Gandhi over the issue, the BJP said the Congress leader has been shown the door from the only place he was active. Addressing a press conference, BJP MP and the party’s youth wing president Tejasvi Surya said the same Congress was crying hoarse and attacking the government when it framed the new rules to “empower” social media platform users. Gandhi’s account was temporarily suspended by Twitter last week after the NCPCR issued a notice to Twitter asking it to act against the Congress leader’s handle for tweeting pictures of the family of a minor victim of alleged rape and murder in Delhi. India rejects Pak charge of role in Dasu suicide attack This is yet another attempt by Pakistan to malign India to deflect international attention from its role as the epicenter of regional instability and a safe haven for proMEA scribed terrorists STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 13 AUGUST India today rejected Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s charge that Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies were behind last month’s suicide attack on a bus in northern Pakistan that killed 10 Chinese labourers and three Pakistanis. “We have seen reports on the absurd comments made by Foreign Minister of Pakistan on the incident in Dasu. This is yet another attempt by Pakistan to malign India, in a bid to deflect international attention from its role as the epicenter of regional instability and a safe haven for proscribed terrorists,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. He pointed out that India has been at the forefront of global efforts against terrorism in partnership with the international community, which was well aware of Pakistan’s credentials when it came to terrorism. “Such desperate attempts by Pakistan at peddling lies and propaganda will, therefore, find few takers,” he added. The suicide attack at Dasu on 14 July targeted a bus carrying Chinese and Pakistani workers to an under-construction hydroelectric dam site, part of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
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.