DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2021, AHMEDABAD, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 SEVERAL STATES ANNOUNCE CURBS ON MOVEMENT, NIGHT CURFEW States start moving to contain surge, Centre says 11 States/ UTs are of ‘grave concern’ EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, MUMBAI, APRIL 2 ON THE day the Centre categorized 11 States/UTs as “States of grave concern” on account of their high and rising daily cases anddeaths,severalstatesmoved Friday to take measures and impose curbs on movements to contain the surge in Covid-19 cases. Stating that these States/UTs – Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana--havecontributed90% of Covid cases and 90.5% of deaths (as on March 31) in the last 14 days, and have crossed or are close to crossing their peaks reported last year, the Centre said the situation was particularly worrying in Maharashtra. In Mumbai, Chief Minister UddhavThackeray,inanaddress to the state, stopped short of announcing a lockdown, but warnedthatadecisionmayhave to be taken in the next two days after consultations with experts and political leaders. On Friday, Maharashtra counted 47,827 new Covid-19 cases, the highest since the pandemic began last year. The EXPLAINED Maharashtra situation worrying, Uddhav warns of lockdown if it gets worse A video grab of the EVM, vehicle in which it was found E EVM in car of Assam BJP leader, EC orders repoll, suspends four The worry: rural, ● semi-rural WHAT IS of particular concern is that Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns, along with peri-urban areas, are reporting a surge in Covid-19 cases. Health officials are warning that the spread of infection to rural areas with weak health infrastructure could overwhelm the entire health system. AIIMS CHIEF: NEED TO GRADUALLY OPEN UP VACCINATION PAGE 10 Maharashtra caseload now stands at 29.04 lakh, of which 3.89 lakh cases are active. Thackeray warned that if cases continue to increase at the present rate, the state will fall short of medical personnel even if the health infrastructure is expanded. He said restrictions have to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Passengers queue up for random testing at the Anand Vihar bus terminal in New Delhi on Friday. The Delhi government is carrying out tests across railway stations, bus terminals and the airport to contain the spread of Covid-19. Praveen Khanna In Gujarat, hospitals fret over beds as cases surge on most days in March, reported 30 new cases on Friday. Mahisagar reported a new district high with 38 new cases. Mehsana touched midDecember levels (of last year) with 43 new cases and Patan reported over 40 new cases for the second time in the past seven days. GVK EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute), which provides emergency ambulance services, has seen a new challenge crop up in the smaller districts. An official said, “We usually have designated Covid-19 ambulances but SOHINI GHOSH AHMEDABAD, APRIL 2 WITH NO signs of a let-up in Covid-19casesinGujaratthatreported a record-high of 2,640 cases and 11 fatalities on Friday, hospitals remain precariously placed across several districts, with government hospitals taking up the major chunk of patients. Apart from Ahmedabad, Surat,VadodaraandRajkotcities that are the worst-hit - with 1,711 new Covid cases, that is nearly two-third of the state’s At a Covid testing centre in Ahmedabad. Nirmal Harindran caseload - other districts too are now feeling the strain. Banaskantha, which had been reporting cases in single-digits wesawthatwiththerisingcases spread across the district, area coveragewasbecomingdifficult. So now we are also deploying non-designated ambulances with provisions of PPE kit and disinfection for ferrying Covid19 patients.” While Gujarat has seen a rapid increase in daily new cases since mid-March, the emergencyambulanceserviceofficial said trips have gone up significantly in the past five days or so. However, compared to the post-Diwali surge in Covid cases when Ahmedabad was CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Polls on, I-T dept In Kerala, Modi raises Sabarimala chant, searches premises says LDF ‘destabilising sacred places’ of Stalin daughter VISHNU VARMA KOCHI, APRIL 2 Other DMK leaders also face I-T action; not scared, won’t surrender TN: Stalin ARUN JANARDHANAN CHENNAI, APRIL 2 THE INCOME Tax department Friday launched a series of search operations in Tamil Nadu targetingDMKleadersincluding DMK chief M K Stalin’s daughter Senthamarai.Of the28premises searched, four belonged to Senthamarai and her husband Sabareesan, considered one of themostpowerfulpersonshelping Stalin in the elections. The I-T action commenced at Senthamarai’s residence in TeynampetandNeelankaraiinthe morning.Subsequently,premises of Lotus Bala, a friend and businessman close to Sabareesan, DMK’s Tiruvannamalai MP C N Annadurai, DMK MLA MK Mohan’s son Karthick Mohan in Anna Nagar in Chennai, and Senthil Balaji, one of the most powerful DMK leaders in central TamilNadu,werealsosearchedby theI-Tdepartment. Mohan is also the state deputy secretary of DMK’s IT wing, a team that had been workingovertimetoamplifyrallies and speeches of Stalin and his son Udhayanidhi across social media platforms. Stalin who was campaigning at Ariyalur and Perambalur districtssaidtheraidswillnotaffect him. “I have seen MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) and Emergency. I would like to tell one thing to (PrimeMinisterNarendra)Modi — this is DMK… do not forget that. I am Kalaignar’s son. You cannot scare us with such raids, we will not surrender the entire state to you like AIADMK leadersafter some I-T, CBI raids,” he said. Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi continued his attack on Modi and Amit Shah in his poll rallies on Friday too even as searches were on at his sister’s house. “Dear Modi, Dear Amit Shah, I am not Edappadi K Palaniswami or O Panneerselvam to fall at your feet. Who am I? I am Udhayanidhi Stalin…,” he said. ReferringtotheI-Traidsathis sister’shouse,Udhayanidhisaid: “Iamchallengingyou…Iamgivingyoumyhouseaddress-25/9, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 WITH THE BJP keen to keep the spotlight on the Sabarimala issue in the final run-up to the Kerala polls on April 6, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lent his weight to the push by starting his rally Friday in Pathanamthitta with a call for the large gathering to repeat after him an iconic chant from the hill shrine: “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa (I seek refuge in you, lord Ayyappa)”. Not once, but five times. Modi's unusual call was also significant because it was issued in Konni, which is close to the WORLD PM Narendra Modi in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. PTI BJPHOPESTOPULLOFFACAPITALSURPRISE,PAGE9 Surendran was jailed in 2018 forhisinvolvementintheheated protests against the Supreme Court ruling that overturned a traditional ban and allowed hill shrine and is one of the two seats — apart from Manjeswaram in Kasaragod — from where the party's state chief K Surendran is contesting. tothePunjabChief Secretaryand DGP, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that in 201920,theBSFapprehended58such labourers from the border districts of Punjab. Theletterdrewsharpreactions from farm leaders protesting against the Centre's new agriculture laws. Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda and member of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee(AIKSCC),accusedthe Centreoftryingto“maligntheimageof farmers”. AseniorPunjabPoliceofficer, speaking on condition of DEEPTIMAN TIWARY & RAAKHI JAGGA NEW DELHI, LUDHIANA, APRIL 2 U.S., IRAN SAY WILL BEGIN INDIRECT TALKS ON NUCLEAR PROGRAMME 50 KILLED IN TAIWAN TRAIN CRASH PAGE 12 womenof allagegroupstoenter the temple. The ruling CPI(M)led LDF backed the court ruling andpaidaheavypoliticalpricein the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, winning just one of 20 seats. “Being here in this holy land blessed by Swami Ayyappa is special,” said Modi. “Millions of devotees come hereafterobservingastrict41-day vratham (vow). That disciplineand devotion makes this land even holier. From Swami Ayyappa,welearntheimportance ofdoinggoodtoothersandbeing compassionate," he said. Modi then went on to accuse the LDF of trying to “destabilise” sacred sites and using lathis on CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 In Assam last leg, poll panel bars Himanta from campaigning EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, APRIL 2 THEELECTIONCommission(EC) Friday banned Assam Minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for 48 hours in Assam ahead of the third and final phase of the Assembly elections. He was penalised for his remark against Bodoland People's Front ChairpersonHagramaMohilary. TheECimposedthebanwith immediate effect, which means thatSarma,astarcampaignerfor the BJP, can no longer seek votes for his party in the state. Campaigning in Assam ends on April 4. The decision was taken on a complaint filed by the Congress, Farm labourers given drugs to work longer, Centre tells Punjab; bid to malign image, says farmer leader IN A letter that could trigger a new flashpoint in its ongoing five-month-long face-off with protesting farmers from Punjab, the Centre has asked the state government to take action on thefindingsof aprobebytheBSF that migrant bonded labourers from Bihar and UP were being employed in the state's farms and administered drugs to extract long hours of work. In the letter sent on March 17 anonymity, confirmed the contents of the letter but described the findings as “far-fetched”. Former NDA ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said theletterwasbasedona“ridiculousassumptionaimedpurelyat defaming farmers of the state”. Referring to the 58 people “apprehended”bytheBSF“from the border areas of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Abohar”, the Centre's letter states: “During the course of questioning, it emerged that most of them were either mentally challenged or were in a feeble state of mind and have been working as bonded labourers with farmers in border villages of Punjab. The persons apprehended belong to poor family background and hail from remote areas of...Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.” Raising the issue of human trafficking, the letter states: “...human trafficking syndicates hire such labourers from their nativeplacetoworkinPunjabon the promise of good salary, but after reaching Punjab, they are exploited, paid poorly and meted out inhuman treatment. For making them work for long CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Himanta Biswa Sarma which had alleged that Sarma had “openly threatened” to send Bodoland People's Front (BPF) chief Hagrama Mohilary to jail by “misusing” the National Investigation Agency. BPF is part of the Congress-led alliance. Inhisspeechatarallyheldon March 28, Sarma had said, “If HagramaMohilarydoesextremism with Batha he will go to jail. This is a straight talk... Already got a lot of evidence. This case is being given to NIA (National CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY THE EDITORIAL PAGE FOR POLICE REFORMS BY PRAKASH SINGH PAGE 6 Slowdown, low infra spend: Bengal challenge economics, politics AS WEST Bengal Chief Minister MamataBanerjeefightsperhaps her most significant electoral battle, framing her contest is not just BJP vs Trinamool politics – butthestate’seconomicsaswell. The anti-incumbency Banerjee faces is as much about local-level corruption and competing ideologies as it is about stalled industrialisation, weak credit growth, a near-freeze in 0 2015-16 FISCAL DEFICIT 2019-20 Actual 2020-21 RE 2021-22 BE 2016-17 2017-18 WEST BENGAL 2.94% 3.86% 2.94% 2018-19 4 7.26 6.5 6.41 ■ India(GDP%) 6.8 5 ■ WestBengal (GSDP%) 8.3 10 6.36 NEW DELHI, APRIL 2 the whole of India, West Bengal saw just about half of that – a weak 10.6 per cent growth. Only Goa and Punjab registered a lower growth than West Bengal. Notonlyonbankcredit,West Bengal had one of the slowest growth rates for bank deposits during this two-year period, too. While deposits expanded by 19.8 per cent across the country in this period, that for West Bengal grew 14.1 per cent. SaidTrinamool'sleaderinthe Rajya Sabha Derek O'Brien: "Modi-Shah and their Tourist Gang can’t compete with us on 7.2 SANDEEP SINGH & SUNNY VERMA new jobs, low infrastructure developmentandagriculturespend. In 2019-20, West Bengal’s GSDPgrowthat7.26percentwas higher than the 4.0 per cent nationalGDPrecordedthesame year but for four of the five years between 2015-16 to 2019-20, West Bengal’s GSDP growth has been lowerthanthenationalfigure. RBI data shows that West Bengal is one of the poorest performers on bank credit growth. Between the fourth quarters of 2018 and 2020, while aggregatecreditofscheduledcommercialbanksgrewby20percentfor STATE OF ECONOMY 8 Low daily wage and per capita income, credit growth half of national average frame anti-incumbency 6.13 PAGE 1 ANCHOR ‘This is DMK... I am Kalaignar’s son’ no circumstances should a person take an EVM in private cusNEWDELHI,GUWAHATI,APRIL2 tody or to a private place. Later in the day, on the recTHEELECTIONCommission(EC) ommendation of its special genFriday ordered fresh voting in a eral observer, the Commission also suspended two polling station in armed escort officers Assam’s Ratabari responsible for ensurAssembly seat following the polling party’s ing a controversy over safety. The special obofficers transporting an server advised the EC Electronic Voting against penalising the Machine (EVM) in a veDECISION Returning Officer since hicle owned by a BJP 2021 the incident appeared candidate. ASSAM to be an “isolated” one The date of repoll and happened due to will be announced “thetotalnegligenceandfoolishsoon. Acknowledging that there ness of the Presiding Officer and wasa“violationof transportpro- his team.” “There is otherwise no delibtocol,” the EC issued a showcause notice to the presiding of- erateormalafideintentioninthe ficer and also suspended him incident aimed to disrupt the along with three other polling polling process," EC quoted the officers for the lapse. The trans- observer as saying in his report. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 port protocol states that under EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE 2019-20 INDIA 4.6% 9.5% 6.8% Source: MOSPI, Union Finance Ministry, West Bengal Budget Documents real parameters of good governance and genuine development…So what do they do? The usualdesperatedistractionspreelections: Pakistan, polarisation and puffy promises that will never be fulfilled.” But for a state fourth largest by population, high unemployment rates can be an issue. CMIE data for February 2021 shows West Bengal had an unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent, which though better than the national 6.9percent,washigherthanthat in many states – the state was at 17th spot among 27 states. The state also records low daily wage and per capita income. While the national average daily wage for non-agriculture labour for FY 2020 was Rs 294, a report by Care Rating points out that the wage rate in West Bengal was lower by almost 8.5 per cent. For Kerala and Tamil Nadu, also poll-bound states, it stood at Rs 670 and Rs 438 respectively. On per capita income, too, West Bengal’s figure of Rs 1.16 lakh was 16% lower than the national average. On MSMEs, a vital indicator of local industry and employment, there are glaring gaps in WestBengal.AspertheNSS73rd roundsurvey,thestatehad88.67 lakh MSMEs as of 2015-16, second only to Uttar Pradesh. These MSMEs employed around 1.35 crore individuals. But according to analysis of the 13.47 lakh enterprises that have completed the MSME Udyam registration process – under the Ministry of MSME – until December 31, 2020, West Bengal does not appear anywhere in the list of top 10 states. The top five in the list include Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. West Bengal had just 27,776 Udyam-registered MSMEs and they employed an average of 5.84 individuals. On social and development indicators, the state offers a mixed bag. Official data shows that while the state’s spending on education and rural/urban developmentareasin2019-20is above the national average, allocationtowardsroads,healthand agriculture sector lags behind. Spending in the social services sector — which includes CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Ahmedabad
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