DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 DAY AFTER, RATE REVERSAL ` 105 per kilo ` 133 per kilo ` 165 per kilo ` 56 per Dozen BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY NIA searches homes of activists, lawyers in Andhra, Telangana over ‘Maoist plot’ DEEPTIMAN TIWARY & SREENIVAS JANYALA Overnight ‘oversight’: Centre rolls back deep rate cut in small savings Why the order would have hit Bengal hardest Rate reset process laid out in Feb 2016 order of ministry’s Budget Division SUNNY VERMA & AANCHAL MAGAZINE NEW DELHI, APRIL 1 IN OVERTURNING an order resetting interest rates on small savings schemes issued Wednesday evening within about 12 hours, Union Finance MinisterNirmalaSitharamanset aside a process that was put in place five years ago, in 2016, by the NDA government itself. While the ‘Office Memorandum’ regarding revisionof ratesissuedbytheBudget Division in the Department of Economic Affairs was uploaded Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the finance ministry website on Wednesday evening, Sitharaman tweeted at 7.54 am, Thursday,thatthe“ordersissued by oversight shall be withdrawn”. The Ministry had on Wednesday cut interest rates on various small savings schemes sharply by 40-110 basis points. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Poll effect on reforms SUNNY VERMA & AANCHAL MAGAZINE NEW DELHI, APRIL 1 THE OVERNIGHT change reveals that the government is willing to put off reforms for political considerations. It also raises the prospect of the bureaucracy turning more risk-averse, even if it were to follow normal procedure while taking administrative decisions. WHILEFINANCEMinisterNirmala Sitharaman Thursday morning describedtheorderrevisinginterestratesforsmallsavingsschemes issuedjustabout12hoursbackas an“oversight”,thepoliticalimperative could not be missed: West Bengal,whichismidwaythrough Assembly elections, accounts for thehighestcollectionsfromsmall savingsschemes. The Finance Ministry had Wednesday evening slashed interest rates on small savings by 40-110 basis points for AprilJune 2021. These schemes are generally subscribed by senior citizens and the middle-class — more so in West Bengal — since interest rates are slightly higher than bank deposits, and offer a safe investment avenue to riskaverse investors. According to the latest data available for the financial year 2017-18 with the National Savings Institute, West Bengal registered the highest gross CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Nandigram boils over: Mamata cries foul, BJP rival says she’s losing, EC seeks report NEW DELHI, HYDERABAD, APRIL 1 THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency (NIA) has conducted searches at 31 locations across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in connection with a case of an alleged Maoist conspiracy against the police and the government.ThisfollowsanFIRregistered last month, naming 64 individualsincludingjournalists, lawyers and civil rights activists. The searches, which began Wednesdayeveningandcontinued Thursday, were spread across eight districts of Andhra Pradesh — Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Prakasam, Srikakulam, Kurnool, Krishna, East Godavari and Kadapa — and four districts of Telangana — Ranga Reddy, Hyderabad, Medchal-Malkajgiri and Medak. The NIA said the searches were linked to the case “relating to furthering the activities of the proscribed organization, CPI (Maoist), in Andhra Pradesh in the guise of frontal organizations”. It said the searches had led to the seizure of 40 mobile phones, 44 SIM cards, 70 storage devices, 184 CDs/DVDs, 19 pen drives, Rs 10 lakh in cash from an accused, sickles, axe, machetes besides CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, APRIL 1 AN EXPERT panel of the country's top drug regulator has allowed Bharat Biotech to administer a third dose of Covaxin to some of the volunteers in its ongoing clinical trials of the Covid vaccine. The approval, a result of the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker’s proposal to use an additionalbooster dose, wouldallow it to test the ability of Covaxin to THE CITY THE EDITORIAL PAGE OUR SECOND COVID TEST BY K SRINATH REDDY PAGE 10 MUMBAI, APRIL 1 ON A day when Mumbai reported 8,646 Covid-19 cases the highest daily count since the outbreak of the pandemic mayor Kishori Pednekar indicated that stricter containment measures could be implemented, including limiting travel in local trains and shutting down religious places, malls and theatres. "Thegovernmentisplanning strict measures to control the spread of the virus, since there is so much rush in markets and people are not following social distancing. Taking note of this, authorities are also considering allowing shops to be kept open on alternate days. Mumbai is in the danger zone in terms of Covid cases," said Pednekar, speaking to reporters at BMC headquarters on Thursday. These new restrictions could be imposedfrom Friday,sheadded. The mayor also indicated that train travel could be restricted in the coming days. "Currently, common citizens are allowed to travel in local trains with restricted timings. But now the government has planned to allow travel for only essential MAHARASHTRA 37,563 VACCINATED IN MUMBAI, DRIVE MOSTLY SMOOTH PAGE 4 service workers, like it was earlier during strict lockdown," she said. About 33 lakh passengers travel daily on local trains. Currently, the general public is allowed to travel from 12 pm to 4 pm and from 9 pm to the end of the day. On Thursday, Mumbai reported 8,646 Covid cases, its highest daily case count, and 18 deaths. Mumbai has 55,000 active cases and the daily growth rate has reached 1.39%. Regarding crowd management at public places like temples, Pednekar said, "At religious placesliketempleswehaveseen CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SAGAR RAJPUT & MOHAMED THAVER MUMBAI, APRIL 1 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee; BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram on Thursday. Partha Paul RAVIK BHATTACHARYA, ATRI MITRA & AMITAVA CHAKRABORTY NANDIGRAM, APRIL 1 TENSIONSRANhighandcharges flewthickandfastinNandigram, the constituency of West Bengal Chief MinisterMamataBanerjee, on polling day Thursday as more than 80 per cent of 76 lakh votes in30constituencieswerecastby 5 pm in the second phase of Assembly elections in the state. Banerjee was held up for prompt an immune response that could last a few years, The Indian Express has learnt. In response to the proposal, the regulator’s Subject Expert Committee(SEC)recommended that the booster dose study be conducted in phase 2 clinical trial participants who received two shots of Covaxin containing 6mcg of the killed SARS-CoV-2 virus. The booster dose is to be given six months after the participants had received their second dose in the trial, which had taken place between September PAGE 1 ANCHOR morethantwohoursin that the BJP had tera polling booth in rorisedvoters.Sheeven Nandigramwheresupcalled up Governor porters of the ruling Jagdeep Dhankhar but TMC and BJP nearly declined to divulge decame to blows. Her seDECISION tails.“Yes,Ihavespoken curity guards formed a to the Governor and an 2021 cordon as she waited in EC special observer. I WEST a wheelchair. She could cannot reveal what all I BENGAL move out only after a discussed with them,” large contingent of cenBanerjeetoldreportersaftral forces and police personnel ter emerging from the polling reached booth. the site. Her BJP opponent Suvendu She later criticised the Adhikari, who toured different ElectionCommissionandalleged areas of the constituency, praised the conduct of the central forces and the EC. Taking a swipe at Banerjee, Adhikari said: “The incident and her behaviour show she has lost the elections. She is just trying to grab some attention. Without thesacrificeof SuvenduAdhikari and the lives of 41 people, Mamata Banerjee could never have become the Chief Minister of Bengal in 2011. This time I am not with her and, therefore, she willnotbetheChief Ministerthis time. Every day, she has flouted EC guidelines and lied. I am happy with the elections. The central forces have done a good jobandtheElectionCommission has ensured free and fair polls.” For Banerjee, and the BJP, the battle for Nandigram is a prestige fight. Because it was the 2007 agitation against land acquisition in Nandigram that catapulted Banerjee to the centrestage of politics in West Bengal, paving the way for the TMC’s victory in the 2011 Assembly polls that ended 34 years of Left Front rule. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 and October 2020. Bharat Biotech is also to follow up these participants “at least for six months after the third dose,” according to minutes of the SEC’s meeting dated March 23. “Further, the firm should present the details of the primary and secondary objectives and various assessments to be carried out in the subjects. Accordingly, (the) firm should submit the revised clinical trial protocol for evaluation,” the SEC CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE PUNE, APRIL 1 THE STATE anti-corruption bureau (ACB) has arrested Archana Jatkar, judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) at Wadgaon Maval courtinPune,inconnectionwith acorruptioncaseabout“managing” a case pending before the court. On January 13 this year, ACB had arrested one Shubhavari Gaikwad (29) for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 2.5 lakh fromoneSwapnilShevkaronassurances of “managing” the Wadgaon Maval court. AresidentofWadgaonMaval, Shevkar is a farmer and also an office-bearerof amilk collection centre. According to the ACB, Shevkar had a case pending against him in the Wadgaon Maval court. Gaikwad allegedly approached him pretending to be a court staffer, 'Mhatre madam', and demanded Rs 2.5 lakh, assuring that she would “manage” the court and get a judgment in his favour. However, Shevkar filed a complaint with the ACB's Pune office. ACB sleuths then laid a trap and nabbed Gaikwad while she was accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000, comprising dummy notes. During investigation, JMFCArchanaJatkarcameunder the scanner of the ACBfor her alleged links with Gaikwad. When ACB procured Jatkar's call detail records, it revealed over 140 phone calls between her, Gaikwad and the complainant. Jatkar then moved CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency(NIA)isinvestigatingthe possible role of gangster Subhash Singh Thakur in sending the Telegram message that claimed responsibility, in the name of a purported terror group called Jaish-Ul-Hind, for causing a security scare outside the Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, The Indian Express has learnt. SourcessaidtheNIAreceived information from another agency that Thakur, who hails from UP and has a long criminal history in Mumbai, may have been instrumental in getting the message sent at the behest of AssistantPoliceInspectorSachin Waze, who has since been suspended and is in the agency's custody in connection with the bomb scare. Accordingtosources,theNIA Sachin Waze believes that Waze approached Thakur, who was in a Varanasi jailandisnowundergoingtreatment in BHU Hospital, through an intermediary. They said that Thakur was told by the intermediary to get the message sent through servers in the UAE. Instead, they said, he got Tihar inmate and terror suspect Tehseen Akhtar of India Mujahideen to send the message. The message was traced to Tihar by a private cyber agency after which the Delhi Police Special Cell, acting on information from Mumbai Police, seized the phone from which it had been allegedly sent. The central agency believes CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 An NIA team conducts a search in connection with SIM cards allegedly procured by Sachin Waze, in Mumbai. Ganesh Shirsekar Pandemic sent migrants home, 11 cr turned to rural job scheme NEW DELHI, APRIL 1 PAGE 3 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Gangster under probe for role in sending message HARIKISHAN SHARMA DCR VIOLATIONS IN SUNRISE HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION Mumbai Mayor hints at train curbs, shutting of religious places AMBANI SECURITY SCARE Third dose of Covaxin gets nod Judge at Pune court arrested for trials, six months after 2nd shot by ACB in corruption case PRABHA RAGHAVAN & PRANAV MUKUL DAILY COVID COUNT OVER 8,600 AS TENS of thousands of migrants returned to their villages following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown that followed last year, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) emerged as a safety net for labourers in rural areas. Over 11 crore people worked under the scheme during the financial year 2020-21 — the first time since its inception in 200607 that the MGNREGS numbers crossed the 11-crore mark in a year. Data available on April 1 show that 11.17 crore individuals availed the scheme in 202021, up 41.75 per cent from 7.88 crore in 2019-20. The total number of people, who availed the scheme, had been in the range of 6.21-7.88 crore between 2013-14 and 2019-20 -- a period for which comparable data is available. But in the wake of job losses during the pandemic, an additional 3 crore plus people turned to the rural job scheme. According to the data, a record high of 7.54 crore rural NREGS SEES RECORD NUMBERS FY 2019 -2020 FY 2020 -2021 Increase Persondays generated 265.35 cr 385.89 cr 45.43 % Average days of employment provided per household 48.4 51.15 NA* No. of households which completed 100 days of employment 40,60,463 68,58,454 68.91% Totalhouseholdsemployed 5.48 cr 7.54 cr 37.59% Totalindividualsemployed 7.88 cr 11.17 cr 41.75% Total expenditure Source: https:nrega.nic.in 68,265.97 cr 1,10,802.05 cr 62.31% *Not Applicable households worked under the MGNREGS during 2020-21 -37.59 per cent higher than 5.48 crore in 2019-20. The previous high of 5.5 crore was recorded in 2010-11. The numbers for individuals and households are likely to be revised upward once the muster roll data for the last week of March gets updated. Under the MGNREGS, every rural household, whose adult member volunteers to do unskilled manual work, is entitled to get at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year. Launched in 200 most back- ward rural districts of the country in 2006-07, the scheme was extended to an additional 130 districts during 2007-08, and to the entire country 2008-09 onward. In 2020-21, the number of households that completed 100-day employment also reached an all-time high of 68.58 lakh, an increase of 68.91 per cent from 40.60 lakh in 2019-20. The average days of employment provided per household too went up marginally from 48.4 days in 2019-20 to 51.51 days in 2020-21. In all, 385.89 crore person days were generated in 2020-21, which is 45.43 per cent higher than 265.35 crore in 2019-20. In the pandemic year, the expenditure on MGNREGS also reached a new high. In 2020-21, the total expenditure was Rs 110,802.05 crore -- 62.31 per cent higher than Rs 68,265.97 crore in 2019-20. As part of the economic package announced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government declared additional funding of Rs 40,000 crore for the MGNREGS, over and above the Rs 61,500 crore allocated in the Union Budget 2020-21.
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