SATURDAY www.thestatesman.com 04 DECEMBER 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI |BHUBANESWAR DARK MINDS OPP HAS MANDATED MAMATA: TMC P5 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky. Shallow to moderate fog in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 23 and 11 degrees Celsius respectively. P6 During a marathon debate on Covid, MPs had talked about the impact of the pandemic on children's education and the ‘digital divide’ that was adversely impacting children from poorer families. Min: 68% Min: 12.5°C (+3) SUN SETS 17:24 hrs MOON SETS 17:25 hrs THUMBNAILS After members expressed concern over booster doses and vaccination of children, Mandaviya said they should trust the scientists, who produced vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year's time. SNS & IANS NEW DELHI, 3 DECEMBER U Mountains surrounding the Kedarnath Temple are covered in snow as Kedarnath receives fresh ANI snowfall on Friday. Sialkot mob lynches Sri Lankan over blasphemy: A mob in Sialkot on Friday tortured a Sri Lankan man to death over blasphemy allegations before burning his body. Priyantha Kumara, who was in his 40s, was working as the general manager of a factory in Sialkot district, according to police. He is said to have enraged local people after tearing down a poster of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan on which Quranic verses were inscribed. Around 50 people have been arrested. (P11) Bengal to conduct trials of booster shots: The Bengal government is planning to soon conduct trials of Covid booster shots in Kolkata, and has started feasibility tests at different medical establishments, officials in the state health department said. Six hospitals have come forward so far, expressing their willingness to be part of the trials. School of Tropical Medicine, College of Medicine & Sagore Dutta Hospital, Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College & Hospital are the three government medical facilities that have evinced interest. Jawad likely to reach Andhra, Odisha today morning: IMD nion Health and Family Welfare Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday said that the decision on booster doses of Covid vaccines and vaccination of children will be taken after scientific advice. Replying to a marathon debate in the Lok Sabha on the pandemic situation and various related issues that began on Thursday, he said that the concerns were expressed by members over booster doses and vaccination of the kids, but they should trust the scientists, who, by their tireless efforts, produced vaccines for Covid19 in less than a year's time. Seventy-five MPs took part in the debate which lasted nearly 12 hours. Noting that India's death rate per million in the pandemic was the lowest in the world, he said that total deaths reported were 4.6 lakh which was only 1.36 per cent of the total number of infected people. “A total of 3.46 crore cases have been reported in India and 4.6 lakh peo- 3,46,15,757 ‘No proof that existing vax not effective on Omicron’ STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 03 DECEMBER 99,976 9,216 8,612 4,70,115 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. FRIDAY 03 DECEMBER 2021 Delhi registered 59 cases He said that a total of 3,829 PSA units under PMCARES fund are being set up and 70 per cent of these are working as of now. About the new Omicron variant, he said that this was reported during the last week of November in South Africa and the World Health Organisation on November 26 declared it as 'variant of concern' but on November 25, Modi chaired a meeting on the new variant with all stakeholders. “On November 26, the Centre wrote to all states and UTs for effective measures to be taken and on December 1, the new guidelines has been effected at 16 airports where RT-PCR tests have been made compulsory for passengers coming from certain countries," the minister said. Separately, answering questions from MPs during Question Hour in the Lower House, Mandaviya said that Punjab was the only state to report deaths ~ four ~ due to shortage K’taka govt upset over missing SA nationals INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE BENGALURU, 3 DECEMBER After detection of the country's first two cases of Omicron infection in Bengaluru, the Karnataka Health department is now worried over 10 South African nationals, who have gone untraceable in Bengaluru.These South African nationals had arrived in Bengaluru between 12 and 22 November. The Health department, which is on high alert after the detection of Omicron cases, wants to get these persons tested, but they have gone missing, sources said. State revenue minister R. Ashok said on Friday that the the missing 10 South African nationals from Bengaluru will be tracked by midnight. Talking to reporters after the high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, he said: "They will be tracked and tested. The authorities have been given directions in this regard." he underlined. The Health Department, after the detection of Omicron cases in the state, sought to get these persons tested, but they have gone missing. They were not found at the address given at the airport and their mobile phones were switched off. As many as 57 persons have arrived from high risk countries including these 10. The Health Department has already approached the police to track and trace these persons, as it plans to send all samples to genomic sequencing tests to get clarity on the presence of Omicron virus. The stringent measures at the airport were initiated from 22 November onwards but these persons have arrived in Bengaluru prior to that. Ashok also disclosed that one of the two men found positive for Omicron "escaped" after taking a Covid negative certificate from a private lab.The man had arrived on 20 November from South Africa and left for Dubai seven days later. The man, fully vaccinated, checked into the hotel the day he arrived and was found to be positive. He had arrived with a negative test report. His samples were confirmed for Omicron after he left. In the wake of detection of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus in the country, the Centre on Friday said the severity of the disease during any possible third wave driven by the new variant is anticipated to be low in view of the fast pace of vaccination and herd immunity due to high exposure to Delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity. “Though Omicron cases are increasingly being reported from countries outside of South Africa and are likely to spread to more countries, scientific evidence is still evolving,” the Health Ministry said. But the scale and magnitude of rise in cases and most importantly the severity of disease that will be caused is still not clear, it said. On the question of efficacy of existing vaccines against this variant, the Health Ministry has said that so far there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron. Some of the mutations reported on Spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines. Protection against the contagion comes by vaccines as well as by antibodies by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved. “Hence vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease, and vaccination with the available vaccines is crucial. If eligible, but not vaccinated, one should get vaccinated," it added. NEW ENTRANTS of oxygen during the second wave of the pandemic. He said that the Centre has written to 19 states thrice seeking the data of the deaths caused due to the shortage of oxygen but though there had been a lot of politics on 'shortage of oxygen', only Punjab has reverted. The minister said the states should not refrain from providing proper data on Covid-19 deaths. "We have repeatedly appealed to the states to provide data, and 19 states responded that there was no death reported due to shortage of oxygen. States respond to their respective HCs that there are no deaths, but they questioned the central government on the number of deaths in the country, the minister said. "We have also asked the states to be prepared for further Covid-19 waves and assured that there is no oxygen shortage this time," he said. International passengers seen exiting from the arrival section of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, in New Delhi ANI on Friday. PM’s pledge to ‘answer’ all Opp CAQM task force to tackle Delhi air pollution queries: TMC fires four questions SC okays hospital construction work INDO ASIAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 3 DECEMBER STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 3 DECEMBER AMARAVATI, 3 DECEMBER Cyclone Jawad is likely to reach north coastal Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coast by the morning of December 4, informed the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Amaravati Director Stella Samuel on Friday. Samuel said, "The depression over the west-central Bay of Bengal is likely to move north-westwards and intensify into a cyclonic storm in next six hours. It is likely to reach north coastal Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coast by the morning of 4 December." Stella added, "The Cyclone Jawad is likely to recurve north, north-eastwards and move along the Odisha coast during subsequent 24 hours with a maximum sustained wind speed of 80 to 90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph. Trees and electric poles are very likely to get uprooted." She further informed that light to moderate rain or thundershowers are likely at most places in north coastal Andhra Pradesh. Stella advised the fishermen advised not to venture into the sea as a gale wind speed of 90 to 100 Kmph is likely to occur over the Bay of Bengal. “Farmers are requested to safeguard their crops. People in low-lying areas should stay in safer places. Due to gale wind, people should stay in safer places as landslides are likely to occur,” she added. It is likely to cause heavy rainfall in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Bengal. IMD has been issuing regular bulletins with the latest forecast to all ANI the concerned states. ple died - this is 1.36 per cent of total cases. 25,000 cases and 340 deaths per million population reported in India - this is one of the lowest in the world," Mandaviya said. He also claimed that before the Covid period, the health infrastructure in the country was "very weak" and this was strengthened under the Modi government, and a robust health infrastructure created in the last two years to face the challenge like Covid. He also said that there were only 16,000 ventilators in the country before 2020. During the first and second wave of this pandemic, it was analysed that there were need of around 75,000 ventilators in the country and immediately an order for 58,000 ventilators were placed and around 48,000 ventilators have already sent to the states, he said. “We provided over a lakh oxygen concentrators to the states and also ensured setting up of oxygen generating plants in each district hospital with adequate storage capacity... funds of Rs 70,240 crore were provided to them,” he told the House. P12 P8 Booster dose, jabs for kids: Decision on experts’ advice TEMPERATURE Max: 21.9°C (-3) SUN RISES 06:59 hrs MOON RISES 08:00 hrs AGARWAL’S TON PUSHES INDIA AHEAD ON DAY 1 Only Punjab reported 4 deaths due to oxygen shortage: Mansukh Mandaviya RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 98% GITA GOPINATH TO BECOME IMF’S FIRST DEPUTY MD The Trinamul Congress on Friday posed four questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP say, ing "the entire nation is waiting" for prompt replies. The party's official Twitter handle had four questions~What's going on in Tripura? Why is the draconian UAPA being used to silence journalists and activists? ~Why are Parliament working days going down? It says the working days in two Houses have come down from 142 in 2016 to 66 in 2020 and 82 in 2021. ~ Why is the PM Cares Fund not under the govern- The party's Twitter handle had four questions which covered Tripura violence, Parliament deadlock, PM Cares Fund and Uttarakhand environmental negligence ment? ~ Why were hydroelectric projectors approved in Uttarakhand without environmental clearance?"We do hope that the BJP government will answer all of them promptly?," the missive in the micro blogging site ran. The missive also carries a video footage of PM’s assertion on the eve of com- mencement of the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament that the government is ready to “answer” all questions from the Opposition. The bitterness between the BJP and Mamata Banerjee-led outfit has gone deeper after Assembly elections in 2021 and the 'triumphant' TMC later trying to make foray in the saffron-party ruled Tripura during the just concluded civic body polls. However, the performance of TMC was encouraging and it has a fair chance of giving a tough fight in 2023 assembly elections. The CPI-M has meanwhile counseled the TMC to try draw the right lesson from the recent farmers' stir. In order to ensure that all of its preventative measures to curb pollution in Delhi are adhered to, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has constituted a specialised task force for Delhi and its neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. “It has been observed that the implementation and compliance of various directions, orders and instructions issued by the Commission leaves much to be desired and noncompliance have been reported, and there is an urgent need to take further systematic preventative measures, as a matter of extreme emergency and abundant caution, to prevent the air quality to fur- STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 03 DECEMBER The Supreme Court on Friday said the government should continue to implement measures to curb air pollution and also allowed the Delhi government to continue with construction activities of hospitals. A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana and comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya ther deteriorates,” the order issued Thursday mentions. Three technical representatives each from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have been assigned to Kant said: "For the time being in view of particular measures by the government of India and notification dated December 2, we direct the government of India and GNCTD to implement those measures. We'll keep the matter pending and list it (the matter) next Friday." The construction activities in Delhi were shut after air quality deteriorated to alarming levels. Haryana and Delhi, two in Uttar Pradesh, and one in Rajasthan. The Commission, from time to time since its inception, has been advising vari- Haryana shuts schools in 4 districts adjoining Delhi: In view of the increasing air pollution, the Haryana Government on Friday ordered the closure of all the schools in the four districts adjoining Delhi till further orders, informed the Directorate of Information, Public Relations and Languages Department.ANI ous policy initiatives and actions directed towards improving the air quality in the region and has issued 45 statutory directions and 7 advisories besides conveying important decisions through the minutes of various meetings held in and by the Commission, to various agencies concerned in the NCR, Delhi and Punjab governments. Fully digital banks to become commonplace: Modi Covid orphans up for STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 3 DECEMBER Observing that India has proved to the world that it was second to none when it came to adopting technology or innovating around it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said fully digital banks, without any physical branch offices, were already a reality and might become commonplace in less than a decade. “As humans evolved, so did the form of our transactions. From barter system to metals, from coins to notes, from cheques to cards, today we have reached here”, he said inaugurating InFinity Forum, a thought leadership Forum on FinTech through video conference. The forum has participation from over 70 countries. Modi said the history of cur- rency has shown tremendous evolution. In this connection, he pointed out that last year, in India, mobile payments exceeded ATM cash withdrawals for the first time. Transformational initiatives under Digital India, he noted, have opened doors for innovative Fintech solutions to be applied in governance. The PM emphasised that now it was time to convert these fintech initiatives into a fintech revolution. “A revo- lution that helps to achieve financial empowerment of every single citizen of the country”, he said. Explaining how technology has also catalyzed financial inclusion, Modi pointed out that from less than 50 per cent of Indians having bank accounts in 2014, India has almost universalised it with 430 million Jan Dhan accounts in the last seven years. He also listed initiatives like 690 million RuPay cards clocking 1.3 billion transactions last year; UPI processing around 4.2 billion transactions in just last month; almost 300 million invoices were uploaded on the GST portal every month; despite the pandemic, about 1.5 million railway tickets were getting booked online every day; last year, FASTag processed 1.3 billion seamless transactions; PM Svanid- hi enabled access to credit for small vendors across the country; e-RUPI enabled targeted delivery of specified services without leakages. The PM stressed that financial inclusion was the driver of the Fintech Revolution. Explaining further, he said, Fintech was resting on 4 pillars: income, investments, insurance and institutional credit. “When income grows, investment becomes possible. Insurance coverage enables greater risk-taking ability and investments. Institutional credit gives wings for expansion. And we have worked on each of these pillars. When all these factors come together, you suddenly find so many more people participating in the financial sector”, he elaborated. Modi stressed the impor- tance of trust in fintech in the light of the wide acceptance of these innovations among the masses. The common Indian has shown immense trust in the Fintech ecosystem by embracing digital payments and such technologies. “This trust is a responsibility. Trust means that you need to ensure that the interests of people are secured. Fintech innovation will be incomplete without fintech security innovation”, he said. The Prime Minister commented on the wider applicability of India’s experience in the Fintech area. He stressed India’s tendency to share experiences and expertise with the world and learn from them as well. “Our Digital Public Infrastructure solutions can improve the lives of citizens around the world”, he added. ‘sale’ in Valley; 2 held STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE JAMMU, 3 DECEMBER ‘Sale’ of children orphaned due to Covid by dubious charities on the ploy of adoption outside Jammu and Kashmir has triggered anger across the UT. A sting operation exposed the racket that allegedly sold the orphan children for Rs.75,000 to Rs.1.50 lakh.Two persons have been arrested and are being interrogated by the police. Several children were orphaned in Jammu and Kashmir due to Covid and the dubious charity was allegedly selling children of poor families on the pretext of adoption, which too was illegal. Fingers are being raised at those managing the charity organization and officials who kept their eyes shut. Chief secretary Arun Kumar personally progress in the alleged illegal adoption and sale case of Covid orphan in Pampore and advocated zero tolerance for such activities. He directed the home department to increase surveillance and inspect the orphanages, women and bal ashrams, NGOs and hospitals. A DSP rank police officer has been assigned enquiry of the racket and the police hope to get to the bottom of the case within a week, chief secretary said. He ordered the I&C department to put all those NGOs, which have not re-registered, on notice stating that if they do not re-register within 15 days, they will no longer be allowed to operate.
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