SATURDAY www.thestatesman.com 06 NOVEMBER 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |`5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR WILL CONTINUE AS PUNJAB CONGRESS CHIEF, SAYS SIDHU ‘KEDAR DHAM WILL STAND UP AGAIN’ PORTUGUESE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES TO DISSOLVE PARLIAMENT P10 P4 P3 Partly cloudy sky.Shallow to moderate fog in the morning. Strong surface winds during the day. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 28 and 14 degrees Celsius respectively. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 5 NOVEMBER RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 98% Min: 59% TEMPERATURE Max: 26.3°C (-4) SUN RISES 06:37 hrs MOON RISES 09:14 hrs Min: 15.0°C (0) SUN SETS 17:33 hrs MOON SETS 18:49 hrs THUMBNAILS People burn firecrackers to celebrate Diwali, in the Capital on Thursday night; (right) President House appears hazy, SUBRATA DUTTA amidst low visibility due to a thick layer of smog, a day after the Diwali celebrations in the Capital. Devotees immerse an idol of Goddess Kali, at ANI the Nimtala Ghat, in Kolkata on Friday. India wallop Scotland: India beat Scotland by eight wickets in Dubai to keep their slender hopes in the T-20 world cup alive. After winning the toss birthday boy and Indian skipper Virat Kohli had no hesitation in opting to field first. The Scottish batsmen were all at sea against the Indian spinners. They were skittled out for a paltry 85. The Indian batsmen made light work of this sub-par total getting it in a shade over 6 overs.. (Full report on P12) PM Modi greets Gujaratis on State's new year: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday greeted all Gujaratis on the occasion of Gujarati New Year. In a tweet Narendra Modi wrote in Gujarati language conveying his heartiest greetings to them on the occasion of Gujarati New Year. Deshmukh's son skips ED summons: Hrishikesh Deshmukh, the son of former Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh, on Friday skipped summons by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and is likely to move court seeking anticipatory bail, his lawyer said. (P5) 125-year-old seer takes Covid vax in Varanasi: y o Giving a shot in the arm to the vaccination drive, a 125-year-old seer, Swami Shivananda took his second dose earlier this week, putting aside all misconceptions. The seer is said to be the oldest recipient of the vaccine. Red alert: Capital turns gas chamber Air quality becomes ‘severe’ after large-scale bursting of firecrackers STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE SAFAR had predicted earlier that air quality, which was already ‘very poor ’, would plummet to the ‘severe’ category if even 50 per cent of the firecracker emissions witnessed in 2019 were recorded this year NEW DELHI, 5 NOVEMBER T he air quality in the city reached the “severe” level on Friday morning with the city having witnessed large-scale bursting of firecrackers on Diwali despite a ban imposed by the Delhi government. The data provided by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) indicated that the pollution level rose sharply from Thursday night onwards. At the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium station, for instance, PM 2.5 levels increased from 389 µg/m3 at 8 pm on Thursday to a high of 1,553 µg/m3 at 1 am on Friday. This is nearly 26 times the standard of 60 µg/m3 for PM2.5. It stood around 1,164 µg/m3 at 6 am on Friday. Sulphur dioxide emis- sions recorded at the station also peaked around 1 am on Friday to 35.5 µg/m3 while the level of nitrogen oxide hit a high of 142.8 µg/m3 at 1 am, up from around 24.7 µg/m3 at 7 pm Thursday. As a 24-hour average, the AQI at several monitoring stations stood in the ‘severe’ category at 10 am on Friday. At Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the AQI was 470 while at Ashok Vihar it stood at 469. AQI between 401 and 500 is considered ‘severe’ and it can “affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases,” according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Scientists at the SAFAR forecasting system had predicted earlier that air quality, which was already in the ‘very poor’ category, would plummet to the ‘severe’ category if even 50 per cent of the firecracker emissions wit- nessed in 2019 were recorded this year. Air quality in Delhi had already reached the upper end of the ‘very poor’ category as a 24-hour average on Thursday when it stood at 382. Fog conditions over Delhi intensified on Friday morning with visibility dropping to a range of 200 m to 500 m at the Safdarjung and Palam airports at 5.30 am, according to scientists at the India Meteorological Department. The Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi forecasts that the AQI will remain in the ‘severe’ category on Friday with the contribution from firecracker bursting, stubble burning and weather conditions having caused it to plunge. With strong winds blowing, the AQI could improve on November 6 and 7 to stand in the ‘very poor’ S category. (See page 2) Pfizer’s Covid pill reduces risk India logs 12K new Covid cases, 221 deaths Also in the same period, a total of hospitalisation 89 per cent of 6,70,847 tests were conductSTATESMAN NEWS SERVICE ASIAN NEWS INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK, 5 NOVEMBER American pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on Friday that its investigational Covid-19 oral antiviral candidate, Paxlovid, showed an 89 per cent reduction in hospitalisation or lethal cases in highrisk patients. “The scheduled interim analysis showed an 89% reduction in risk of Covid-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause compared to placebo in patients treated within three days of symptom onset (primary endpoint),” Pfizer said in a statement. Chhath Puja: Delhi govt declares public holiday on Nov 10 ANI NEW DELHI, 5 NOVEMBER None of the patients who received Paxlovid died during the testing that lasted 28 days, compared with 10 deaths (1.6%) among those who received a placebo. “Today’s news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic. These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved or authorized by regulatory authorities, has the potential to save patients’ lives, reduce the severity of Covid19 infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations,” Albert Bourla, chairman at Pfizer, said. India registered 12,729 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. With 221 more fatalities related to Covid in the last 24 hours, the death toll so far has increased to 4,59,873. The recovery of 12,165 patients in the last 24 hours has increased the cumulative tally to 3,37,24,959. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.23 per cent, highest since March 2020. The active caseload stands at 1,48,922. Active cases presently constitute 0.43 per cent of the country's total positive cases, the lowest since March 2020. ed across the country. Meanwhile, the weekly positivity rate at 1.25 per cent has remained less than 2 per cent for the last 42 days now. The daily positivity rate stands at 1.90 per cent, which has also remained below 2 per cent for the last 32 days and less than 3 per cent for 67 consecutive days now. Kerala continues to lead states in most number of cases in a day with 7,545 cases reported on Friday.With the administration of 5,65,276 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India's Covid inoculation coverage has reached 107.70 crore as of Friday morning. Delhi cases: The number of fresh Covid-19 cases in the city was 32 3,43,33,754 1,48,922 12,729 12,165 4,59,873 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. FRIDAY 5 NOVEMBER 2021 on Friday though only 22,603 tests could be conducted during the past 24 hours due to Diwali on 4 November. India is disappointed that Pakistan has decided not to attend and China has not responded so far to the invitation extended by New Delhi for a regional security dialogue of National Security Advisors (NSAs) on Afghanistan to be held here on 10 November. “Pakistan’s decision is unfortunate, but not surprising. It reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate. Pakistan has not attended the previous meetings of this format. Its media comments against India are an unsuccessful attempt to deflect attention from its pernicious role in Afghanistan,” sources said. New Delhi is also not sure whether China would attend the meeting. NSA Ajit Doval will chair the meeting to which India CRISIS MEET NSA Ajit Doval will chair the meeting to which India has formally invited the NSAs of Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India is disappointed that Pakistan has decided not to attend and China has not responded so far has formally invited the NSAs of Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Sources said Russia and Iran have already confirmed their participation in the meeting. This reflected the importance these countries attach to the significant role played by India in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which has been opposed to any Indian role in Afghanistan, has declined the invitation. Spurious liquor claims 12 lives in Bihar’s Bettiah HOOCH INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE PATNA, 5 NOVEMBER With three more succumbing, the death toll in Bihar’s Bettiah hooch tragedy rose to 12 on Friday, police said. Nine persons had died on Diwali morning after consuming spurious liquor the previous night. The victims belonged to South Telahua village under Nautan police station. Following the incident, DIG of Champaran range Pranav Kumar, suspended the SHO and a ‘chowkidar’ of Nautan police station. “Strict action will be taken against the negligent officials and those involved in manufacturing and selling spurious liquor in the region,” Pranav Kumar said. State Liquor Prohibition Minister Sunil Kumar said, “Bihar has lost 40 people to spurious liquor this year. Strong measures are being taken to prevent such incidents.” “The liquor prohibition department and the district police have seized 187 lakh litres of liquor. As many as 700 police personnel were terminated from service and over 3 lakh persons involved in liquor consumption, trade and transportation in the state arrested,” Sunil Kumar said. Since January, around 90 persons have died due to poisonous liquor in Bihar. Nine persons had died on Diwali morning after consuming spurious liquor Opposition has accused the Nitish Kumar government of hiding the actual death toll Ten people have died in Gopalganj due to poisonous liquor since Tuesday evening. Gopalganj Superintendent of Police Anand Kumar suspended the SHO of Mohammadpur police station and a ‘chowkidar’ following the incident on Friday. “We have suspended Shashi Ranjan, the SHO of Mohammadpur and a 'chowkidar' for their callous attitude, which led to a large number of deaths in three villages ~ Mohammadpur, Kushar and Tuhra Tola - that came under their jurisdiction,” Kumar said. The villagers had consumed poisonous liquor on Tuesday evening and fell ill. While ten of them have died during the last three days, seven others are critically ill. Four of them have lost their eyesight. Opposition leaders have accused the Nitish Kumar government of hiding the actual death toll. Pakistan’s NSA Moeed Yusuf turned down India's invitation, saying his country would not attend any meeting where there was no representation from the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Two earlier meetings in this format have been held in Iran in September 2018 and December 2019. The third meeting in India could not be held earlier due to Cobid-19. The focus at the meeting will be on the security situation in Afghanistan, more than two months after the Taliban took control of Kabul. The high-level participation in next week’s meeting reflects the growing concern of regional countries about the situation in Afghanistan and their desire to consult with each other, sources said. India has an important role to play in this process, sources added. US: China built village inside disputed territory with Arunachal The US Department of Defense annual report also specifically points out that China has attempted to blame India for provoking last year’s standoff NEW DELHI, 5 NOVEMBER China has built a large 100home civilian village inside disputed territory between the Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh, claimed the US Department of Defense in its annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China. These and other infrastructure developments along the India-China border have been a source of consternation in the Indian government and media, it stated. The report also specifically points out that China has attempted to blame India for provoking the standoff through India’s “increased infrastructure development” near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Asserting that its deployments to the LAC were in response to Indian provocation, Beijing has refused to withdraw any forces until India’s forces have withdrawn behind the its version of the LAC and ceased infrastructure improvements in the area, it stated. Chinese state-controlled media asserted China’s intent to refuse any territorial concessions demanded by India. The department also asserted that Chinese officials have warned US officials to not interfere with the their relaIANS tionship with India. Britain unveils commemorative Wankhede deboarded from cruise ship probe NO LONGER IN CHARGE coin celebrating Mahatma Gandhi INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, 5 NOVEMBER STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 5 NOVEMBER NEW DELHI, 5 NOVEMBER The Delhi government has declared November 10 as a public holiday this year on account of Chhath Puja. Earlier, Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia informed that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has given permission to celebrate Chhath at determined places in Delhi with all COVID-19 norms in place. The main celebration is on November 10 when devotees will offer 'argha' to Sun God. D (Details on P2) P12 India to host regional meet on Afghanistan on 10 November UNDER A GREY HAZE WEATHER ‘RACISM NEEDS TO BE MET HEAD-ON’ A new £5 coin to commemorate the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi has been unveiled by the UK Chancellor during the festival of Diwali. Available in a range of standards including gold and silver, the special collectors’ coin was designed by Heena Glover and features an image of a lotus, India’s national flower, alongside one of Gandhi’s most famous quotes – ‘My life is my message’. Building on the enduring relationship and cultural connections between the UK and India, it is the first time that Gandhi has been commem- orated on an official UK coin with the final design chosen by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak (photo), who is the Master of the Mint. Sunak said: “This coin is a fitting tribute to an influential leader who inspired millions of people around the world. As a practicing Hindu, I am proud to unveil this coin during Diwali. Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the movement for Indian independence and it is fantastic to have a UK coin commemorating his remarkable life for the first time.” The £5 coin, which went on sale yesterday, is part of the Royal Mint’s wider Diwali collection, which includes 1g and 5g gold bars in henna-style packaging, and the UK’s first gold bar depicting Lakshmi – the Hindu goddess of wealth. The 20g gold Lakshmi bar was designed in partnership with the Hindu community in South Wales, where the Royal Mint is based. The Mint will join the celebrations at the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Cardiff. In a significant development, the Narcotics Control Bureau’s controversial Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede was on Friday shifted out from the investigations into the sensational cruise ship party raid of 2 October in which Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested. The move came amid serious allegations of extortion being levelled against the NCB and its Mumbai zone director Sameer Wankhede. The NCB directorate on late Friday issued a statement saying that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising officers from Operations I have not been removed from the investigation. It was my writ petition in the court that the matter be probed by a central agency. SAMEER WANKHEDE NCB’S MUMBAI ZONAL DIRECTOR The NCB directorate issued a statement saying that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising officers from Operations Branch of the NCB Headquarters has been constituted by the Director General, NCB to take over the Aryan Khan case Branch of the NCB Headquarters has been constituted by the Director General, NCB to take over a total of six cases from NCB Mumbai Zonal Unit which have national and international ramifi- cations, in order to conduct deeper investigation to find out forward and backward linkages. Wankhede denied that he has been removed from the case. “I have not been removed from the investiga- tion. It was my writ petition in the court that the matter be probed by a central agency. So, the Aryan Khan case and Sameer Khan case are being probed by Delhi Special Investigation Team. It is coordination between NCB teams of Delhi and Mumbai.” The NCB statement also said that no officer or officers have been removed from their present roles. It is reiterated that the NCB functions across India as a single integrated agency. Meanwhile, Aryan Khan appeared before the NCB today. He was required to mark his presence before the agency between 11 am and 2 pm. This was one of the conditions set by the Bombay High Court while granting bail.
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