DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 18 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 WITHHOLDING ACCOUNTS GROUND COMMANDERS MEET TO TAKE FIRST STEPS Didn’t block journalists’ accounts as it would violate free speech: Twitter Armour rollback on either side likely first move, frontline troops to step back in phased manner Govt pulls up Twitter: ‘differential treatment on Capitol Hill, Red Fort’ AASHISH ARYAN NEW DELHI, MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 10 ‘Toolkit’ discussed at meet. Thunberg had shared one by IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney; Monique Meche, Twitter's vice-president, global public policy; and Jim Baker, Twitter's deputy general counsel and vice-president, legal. Aheadof themeeting,Twitter,in CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 GOVT PUSH FOR THE HOME-GROWN KOO P6 Govt respects farmers’ voice, their protests pure, bid to pollute: PM Those who don’t want the new can stay with old, says Modi in LS, underlines power of private sector LIZ MATHEW NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 10 THE GOVERNMENT and Parliament respect the farmers voicing their views on the three farm laws, Prime Minister NarendraModisaidWednesday, ashestronglydefendedtheneed for reform and change. Saying that the old agriculture marketing system will continue and those who don’t want the new system can continue with the old, Modi said the “Kisan Andolan” and andolankari were pavitra (pure). But “andolanjeevi” — a controversial term he used in his Rajya Sabha addresstodescribethe“habitual protester” — had hijacked the protests,he said, by waving photos of those jailed for serious of- BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY fences and asking for their release. Somefarmer unions had distanced themselves from one of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE DEVENDRA PANDEY MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 10 TRUDEAU CALLS PM, INDIA PROMISES TO SUPPORT CANADA ON VACCINATION LAW MINISTRY JUNKS M.O.E. PROPOSAL ON IIMS PAGE 6 PAGE 1 ANCHOR Leh CHINA PANGONGTSO Ladakh Chushul SPANGGURGAP RezangLa RechinLa lined, will happen “simultaneously” on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso. Referring to the PLA troops, sourcessaid:“Somemovements are already taking place on their side, of heavy equipment and troops.Allthatwillbemonitored and verified. We also have to do the same.” Jammuand Kashmir Sources said a go-ahead for the “preparatory phase” of onground disengagement was given to the respective forces from Delhi and Beijing on Tuesday. “Ground-level commanders from both sides held a meeting over the nitty-gritty of the pullback on the Pangong lake on FORMER INDIA opener Wasim Jaffer’s resignation as Uttarakhand coach has triggered an ugly row — a kind ‘Lowest one unheard of in can go’ Indian cricket circles. On Wednesday, a day after Jaffer, in his resignation letter, accused Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU) officials of pushing “undeserving players”, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Tuesday as per agreed terms between the two governments. A meetingwasheldonWednesday as well. Things have been put in motion, but as of now no pullbackof troopshasstarted,”agovernment official said. Sources said ground commandershavebeenaskedtofirst make arrangements at the new stations where artillery and troops will head back. “Any movement of artillery will take another two-three days. Troop pullback may happen only after three or four days. A timeline of about a week to 10 days has been set for the process,” another official said. Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, in a written statement, said: “The CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Monitoring, verificationkey THE DISENGAGEMENT announcement comes four days after Minister S Jaishankar said there had been “no visible expression” of the pullback agreement of last September. The disengagement process will be closely monitored and verified on the ground, given that an attempt to disengage failed last July. A N E X P R E S S I N V E S T I G A T I O N - PA R T I False phone numbers, fake names: how Bihar Covid testing data got infected The Indian Express travels across Jamui, Sheikhpura and Patna districts and tracks down nearly 600 entries shown as tested to find glaring gaps between what’s on paper — and what’s on the ground BARHAT Total entries Tests confirmed SANTOSH SINGH JAMUI, SHEIKHPURA, PATNA, FEBRUARY 10 OVER THREE days last month, three Primary Health Centres (PHC) in Bihar’s Jamui district tested 588 residents for Covid — all were negative. The name, age and cell number of each person tested was put down in a chart and sent to Patna where it was aggregatedwithdata from other districtstoplotthestate’s downward Covid curve. Staringoutfromthesecharts, however, are a string of glaring irregularities,aninvestigationby The Indian Express has revealed. The Indian Express visited six PHCs in Jamui, Sheikhpura and Patna, and accessed their testing recordsforJanuary16,18and25. In Jamui, it tracked down each of the 588 entries at three PHCs for those days, and spoke to several staffers to find that basic data protocol was bypassed in a scramble to meet the daily target -- from fudged mobile numbers to fake names and dodgy entries. And,insome cases, toallegedly siphon off profits from unused testing kits. CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 230 12 SIKANDARA Total entries Tests confirmed No takers for Covid tests at the PHC in Barhat, Jamui district. Records show one mobile number for 26 who got RT-PCR tests; (left) the PHC at Jamui Sadar. Santosh Singh 208 43 JAMUI SADAR Total entries Tests confirmed 150 65 Factors in fudge — a target, a profit motive and some reason to worry SANTOSH SINGH & AMITABH SINHA PATNA, PUNE, FEBRUARY 10 TESTING GAPS TOMORROW ‘WHO IS DOING THIS FRAUD? HOWCAN THEY USE MY NUMBER?’ PRESENTED WITH examples found by The Indian Express, senior Health officials in Bihar said there will be a probe into the glaring discrepancies in Covid testing charts but sources said that, at first glance, a set of factors could be behind the fake entries: from corruption to cutting corners in Rescue operations at Raini village in Chamoli. Gajendra Yadav Behind hydel project washed away, a troubled trail to accident in 2011 JAY MAZOOMDAAR Of 588 entries across 3 PHCs in Jamui on January 16, 18 and 25, only 120 were confirmed tested: CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE PEASANT BY HARISH DAMODARAN PAGE 10 INDIA MISSING NUMBERS Communal angle sad, says Jaffer after quitting as U’khand coach THE EDITORIAL PAGE SIGNALLING THE first major breakthrough in talks to resolve the nine-month military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, China’s Defence Ministry announced Wednesday that Chinese and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tsobegan“synchronizedandorganized disengagement” in line with the consensus reached betweenCorpsCommanderswhen they last met on January 24. There was no immediate statementfromtheIndianArmy. The office of the Defence Minister said Rajnath Singh will makeastatementinRajyaSabha Thursday regarding ‘Present Situation in Eastern Ladakh’. The Indian Express has learnt that ground commanders on the northandsouthbanksofPangong TsometTuesdayandWednesday to prepare for the first steps towards disengagement. Sources in the security establishment said “there will be a phased withdrawal” because that is what “has been decided” mutually. To start with, some armoured columns will be pulled back while frontline troops will continue to remain where they are. Under the plan, the sources said, troops occupying heights will descend at a later stage. The disengagement, sources under- nk Ba k rth an No hB ut So KRISHN KAUSHIK, DEEPTIMAN TIWARY & NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 10 COMPARING THE “action taken byTwitterduringtheCapitolHill episode and... the disturbance in Red Fort”, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Wednesday “expressed strong displeasure”toTwitteratwhatit calledits“differentialtreatment”. “A deep sense of disappointment at seeing Twitter side not with ‘freedom of expression’ but rather with those who seek to abuse such freedom and provokedisturbancetopublicorder, wasconveyedtotheTwitterrepresentative,” theministry said in a strongly worded statement releasedafteratwo-hour-longvirtualmeetingbetweenitsofficials and senior Twitter executives. The meeting was attended China announces ‘synchronised’ Pangong disengagement, Rajnath statement today a scramble to meet targets. According to data compiled bytheBiharHealthDepartment, the state has tested more than 2.16 crore samples so far, second only to Uttar Pradesh which has conducted over 2.89 crore tests. In recent weeks, about 75,000 tests are being conducted on an average each day. And each PHC has been given a daily target of 150-300 RT-PCR and Antigen tests. Testing itself has changed CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 10 ON INDEPENDENCE Day in 2011, Rakesh Mehra, the owner of Ludhiana-based Rajit Paints Group, drove up to Chamoli in Uttarakhand to inaugurate the trialrunofaunitofhismini-hydel projectonRishiGangariveradjacent to the Nandadevi biosphere reserve.Attheprojectsite,aboul- derslidoverheadandfellonhim. “Imaginetheoddsof asingle, dislodged boulder killing him while nobody standing around received a scratch. In hindsight, was it just a freak incident or an early warning? Today, so many CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 RESCUE OP TO SHIFT TO ANOTHER TUNNEL BELOW MAIN ONE P7 Israel wants India by its side against ICC ruling, Delhi silent NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 10 ISRAEL IS pushing “good friend” Indiatotakeastandagainstaruling last week by the International Criminal Court claiming jurisdiction over Palestinian territories, but Delhi, still navigating its way through the big shifts in West Asia, is reluctant to be drawn in, official sources said. The Indian Express has learnt that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whomhedescribedrecentlyasa “great friend”, asking India to speak out against the decision, and to send a clear message to the ICC “to stop this assault on justice and common sense”. Delhi has not responded to Netanyahu’s February 7 communication, which came two days after the ICC ruling. Instead, the sources said, it has been conveyed through diplomatic channels that since India is not a member of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, it would not want to comment or take a position on any of the court’s decisions or rulings. Israel, which is also not a member of the Rome Statute, hascondemnedtheICCrulingas CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 On fastest highway, wildlife get safe passage with bridges, passes SANDEEP ASHAR NAGPUR, MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 10 SLAMMINGTHEbrakesasadeer darts across the road or waiting patiently as a herd of animals crosses it at a leisurely pace are common experiences of driving on roads cutting through forested areas. But on India’s fastest highway — the under-construction Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway, whichisdesignedforatopspeed of 150kmph—thefocusisonco- existence, with five “wildlife bridges” and a network of underpasses being built. The 701-km-long and 120m-broad highway,whichwillbe partly commissioned this May, cuts across three sanctuaries — Tansa (Thane), Katepurna (Akola-Washim border) and Karanja-Sohol (Washim) — and 35 wildlife focus areas (WFAs) – 16 in Vidharbha, 16 in the North WesternGhats,3inMarathwada — stretched over 118 km across the route. And there is a lot more at stake than a roadkill. A high-speed corridor cutting across wildlife habitat can severely restrict the movement of animals, altering their behaviour and dispersal patterns. Mindful of this,the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), that is building the highway, joined forces with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to engineer safe wildlife crossings. “The idea is to give native animalsawaytogetacrosstheroad without endangering themselves...Thegoodthingaboutthis highway is that it is the first one where wildlife mitigation has been considered, even as it does notcutacrossanyoftheprotected Five wildlife bridges, underpasses are being built on NagpurMumbai Super Communication Expressway. Amit Chakravarty areasofaforest.Wewantedtoset an example,” said Dr Bilal Habib, WII scientist who was the project’sleadinvestigatorforwildlife mitigation measures. Whileanimalunderpassesare notnew,thefive“wildlifebridges” —threeoverpassesinthewildlife focus areas of the project in Vidarbha and two in the highlandsofAurangabad—arethefirst of their kind in India, he said. While the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has also announced a plan to construct animal bridges along the proposed DelhiMumbai expressway, the land acquisitionprocessforthiscorridor is still in progress. On the otherhand,workontheNagpurMumbai corridor is almost 70 per cent complete. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who has namedtheprojectafterhisfather Bal Thackeray, has announced that a 502-km stretch along the route — connecting Nagpur to Shirdi — will be opened to the public on May 1. MSRDC’s Vice Chairman-cum-Managing DirectorRadheshyamMopalwar saidtheremainingsectionof the corridor will be commissioned on or before May next year. Racingtomeetthefirstdeadline, civil contractors engaged by the MSRDC are designing a straight-edged parabolic-approach ramp-way for a 60-m wide wildlife overpass along the routeinWardha.“Thebasicstructure will be ready within three months,” said B K Jha, the site’s project manager. Dr Habib said a parabolic approach will help to guide the wildlife to the bridge. This stretch of the highway is located in the middle of a functional corridor between the Bor Tiger Reserve and the UmredKarhandla Wildlife Sanctuary. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
Indian Express Limited is an Indian news media publishing company. It publishes several widely circulated dailies, including The Indian Express and The Financial Express in English, the Loksatta in Marathi and the Jansatta in Hindi.