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 THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 PRIME MINISTER, CHIEF MINISTERS MEET TODAY ON COVID ROADMAP Second-wavestatesaskformorevaccines, Centreaccusesthemofplayingpolitics Other vaccines stuck over data, tests, raw material issues Shifting the goalposts: Health Minister slams Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Chhattisgarh PRABHA RAGHAVAN NEW DELHI, APRIL 7 KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, APRIL 7 THE COORDINATED Covid-19 battle plan between the Centre and states came under strain Wednesday when the Union HealthMinistry,beingpushedby severalstatestosupplymorevaccine doses and open up the vaccination process to all individuals above the age of 18, reacted sharply, accusing the secondwavesurgestatesof “politicizing” apublichealthissueand“spreadinglies”,andof notdoingenough in terms of testing, contact tracingandrampingupthehealthinfrastructure. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan,whocamedownheavily on Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab, the states contributing most to the second surge of Covid-19 cases, said they were “trying to divert attention from their poor vaccination efforts by just continuously shifting the goalposts”. Yet he acknowledged, in an official statement, that “the supply of vaccines remainslimited”andsolongasthe situation continues, “there is no option but to prioritize” age groups in the country. His remarks came a day ahead of an all-important meeting of the Prime Minister with the Chief Ministers scheduled Thursday. Also Wednesday, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla,inaninterviewpublished in the Business Standard, said SII has sought “a few thousand crores” as grant from the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Waiting for their turn for vaccination at ‘Jumbo’ Covid facility, Bandra Kurla Complex, in Mumbai on Wednesday. Pradip Das Maharashtra raises alarm: Lockdowns return, with stocks running out, may a change: migrants are have to pause vaccination now mostly single, male TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA THE NUMBERS MUMBAI, APRIL 7 Daily vaccinations in Maharashtra: 3.5-4 lakh EVEN AS the Centre flayed Maharashtra Wednesday over its claims of vaccine shortage, the state has raised alarm bells, with senior health officials saying they may be forced to halt vaccination for four to five days next week if the new stock does not come. Maharashtra estimates that its stock of 15.76 lakh doses of Covaxin and Covishield will be exhausted in three days. State's demand: 6 lakh doses per day CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 State’s stock: 15.76 lakh doses Daily cases in state: 60,000 STATES GRAPPLE WITH SHORTAGES AMID SURGE PAGE 7 KARISHMA MEHROTRA RANCHI, APRIL 7 IN FEBRUARY this year, Md ShabbirAnsaritravelledwithhis family back home to Giridih, Jharkhand, and after dropping them, returned to Delhi to look for work. Fired from his job repairingcarsinGhaziabad,Ansari could no longer afford the rent for his family of six at Karkardooma in Delhi. Speaking to his wife Nahid, overthephonefromDelhi,Ansari says he is about to lose the new jobhehadgotinMarch,working for Ola, as well. The owner of the car has told him to look elsewhere."Casesarerisingagainand I’m sitting empty-handed. I am going to come back to Jharkhand in 10 days if things continue like this,” says Ansari, 24. “We had asked the Jharkhand government for help during the first lockdown. They didn’t do anything,” says Nahid Parveen, 21. Married for two years, she adds, “I wanted to stay back in Delhi with him. Who would choose to stay without their husband? I had just started to understand the city, kya CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AT A time when states are reporting shortage of Covid-19 vaccines and the existing capacity is yet to be ramped up to meet the growing demand in India, all eyes are on the next set of shots in the pipeline. Over the last year, India has been building capabilities to manufacture large quantities of vaccines like Sputnik V, Covovax and the Janssen vaccine. Of these, Sputnik V is awaiting approval for emergency use in India, while the Janssen candidate received an emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration for use in America in February — an approval that may allow the vaccine to be launched in India without bridging studies, according to some health experts. Sputnik V, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, has been tested in India through a bridging study conducted by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. The Russian Direct InvestmentFundhasinkedpacts withseveralIndianmanufacturers,includingHeteroBiopharma, Gland Pharma and Panacea Biotec, to scale up production of this vaccine in India to upwards of 600 million doses a year. However, while Dr Reddy’s approached the Central Drugs CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE EDITORIAL PAGE NEED THAT DOSE PAGE8 PROLONGED DEADLOCK CJI calls collegium today, 2 colleagues question its timing Judges say meeting not proper since President has appointed successor APURVA VISHWANATH NEW DELHI, APRIL 7 AT LEAST two judges of the SupremeCourtarelearnttohave expressed their reservations to Chief Justice of India Justice S A Bobde over his decision to hold a meeting of the collegium Thursday to discuss possible candidates for appointment to the apex court. Their argument is that since the President of India has issued warrants of appointment for the next Chief Justice of India, it would not be proper for the incumbentCJItomakeanyrecommendations. On April 6, President Ram Nath Kovind officially appointed the most senior SC judge N V CJI Bobde retires April 23 Ramana as the next CJI. Justice Ramana is set to take oath to his office on April 24, a day after CJI Bobde retires. It is learnt that although the meeting was scheduled before the notification was issued, CJI Bobde did not change his decisionevenafterreservationswere CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 GOVT OBJECTS TO KIRPAL AS HC JUDGE PAGE 7 Covid surge adding to uncertainty, RBI keeps key rate unchanged KHUSHBOO NARAYAN MUMBAI, APRIL 7 THE RESERVE Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Wednesday left policy rates unchanged at record low levels as it was still unsure about the sustainability of economic recoveryduetothesecondwave of Covid-19 infections. The central bank, however, announced a bond-buying calendar which will ensure that borrowers reap the benefits of a low interest rate regime. Thereporate,themainpolicy rate(itistherateatwhichtheRBI lends money to commercial banks),hasbeenretainedat4per cent because the MPC wants to ensurethat“theprospectsofsustainedrecoveryarewellsecured”. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Boosting confidence THE NEW bond purchase calendar should provide confidence to participants that huge supply of government borrowings will not drive up yields too much. It also supports the easy monetary policy stance at a time when the Covid surge is adding to uncertainty about growth and inflation. In letter to court, Waze Ambani security case: Param Bir, Mamata gets EC notice names Sena minister Pradeep Sharma appear before NIA for appeal to minorities not to split their votes over Rs 50-cr demand MOHAMED THAVER MUMBAI, APRIL 7 SADAF MODAK MUMBAI, APRIL 7 THE WORLD ALL US ADULTS ELIGIBLE FOR COVID VACCINE ON APRIL 19, SAYS BIDEN RUSSIA FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS PAK PAGE 10 IN A letter he tried to submit to the Special NIA Court on Wednesday, suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Waze supported former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh's allegations against exhome minister Anil Deshmukh, while also levelling charges against Transport Minister Anil Parab of the Shiv Sena. Waze alleged that Parab had asked him to initiate talks with a trust facing an inquiry and to get Rs 50 crore from the trustees to close the probe, as well as asked for collections from alleged fraudulent contractors on a BMC list. TheSpecialNIACourtdidnot take the letter, dated April 3, on record, directing Waze's legal team to follow proper legal procedure, said Waze's lawyer Transport Minister Anil Parab Rounak Naik. Parab denied the allegations and said he would not be resigning, adding that he was ready to face any inquiry. He called the charges part of a conspiracy by the BJP to defame him, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and theMVAgovernment."Theseare false allegations. I swear in the name of Balasaheb and my two daughters and want to tell the people of the state that the allegations are false,” Parab told the media. In his letter, Waze said that then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had told him that "certain agitators" had objected CONTINUEDONPAGE2 FORMER MUMBAI Police commissioner Param Bir Singh was on Wednesday quizzed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for around four hours in connection to its probe in the Mukesh Ambani house bomb scarecase.BesidesSingh,former policeman and encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma also appearedbeforethecentralagency. Singh appeared before the agency around 9.30 am and was allowed to leave at 1.20 pm. Suspended Assistant Mumbai Police Inspector Sachin Waze, who was arrested by the NIA in connection with the bomb scare case, reported directly to Singh when he was the commissioner. The NIA is believed to have questioned Singh about some revelationsmadebyWazesofar. Pradip Sharma, meanwhile, appeared before the NIA around 1 pm and left at 8 pm. A source said that on the ba- EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, APRIL 7 Param Bir Singh (left) and Pradeep Sharma at NIA office in Mumbai on Wednesday. Ganesh Shirsekar MOREREPORTS,P3 sis of CCTV footage found at the Mumbai Police headquarters, the NIA has come up with a list of people who met Waze at his Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) office on days leading to the murder of Thane-based Mansukh Hiran, whose vehicle was found parked outside the Ambani residence on February 25 with gelatin sticks and a threat letter. Sharma, who is believed to be Waze’s mentor and has worked with him in Mumbai CIU in the 1990s, is believed to have come to the police headquarters on March 2. “He is believed to have met Waze at his CIU office on the fourth floor of the new police building,” a source said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THEELECTIONCommission(EC) onWednesdayissuedanoticeto West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) with her appeal last week to minority voters not todividetheirvotesbetweendifferent political parties. The Trinamool chief has 48 hours to present the Commission with a defence. OnApril3,atanelectionrally at Tarakeshwar in Hooghly, Banerjee told voters, "I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands, don't divide minority votes after listening to the devil (shaitaan) who has taken money from the BJP. He passes many communal statementsandprovokesclashes between Hindus and Muslims. He is one of the followers of the BJP, a comrade. The comrades of BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY the CPM and BJP are roaming aroundwithmoneygivenbythe CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 MAMATA NEPHEW’S WIFE PAID BY MINING ACCUSED: ED PAGE 7 Covid leaves judo team stranded in Kyrgyzstan, Tokyo far away PAGE 1 ANCHOR NITIN SHARMA & MIHIR VASAVDA NEW DELHI, CHANDIGARH, APRIL 7 IN BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, for the Asia Oceania Championship, the Indian judo team is stranded at a hotel, with food and cash runningout,aftertwoplayerstested positive. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of External Affairs are intouchwiththeplayerstobring them back. The 19-member team including players and coaching staff were quarantined at a hotel, 90 minutes away from the tournament venue, late evening on Tuesday. Following the two positive cases, the Indian team was not allowed to compete in the tournament, which offers crucial ranking points to qualify for the July 23-August 9 Olympics. Players said there is no provision for food at the facility, and after running out of local currency, they made an SOS call to the Indian Embassy. “The organisers have literally thrown us at this hotel... Each of us had just one sandwich in the morning, which was arranged from outside. We are still waiting for lunch and it is already close to evening,”AvtarSingh,whocompeted in the Rio Olympics and is hoping to qualify for this year’s Tokyo Games, told The Indian Express. Headded:“Mostof usdidnot bringcashaswethoughtwewill use our credit cards at the hotel The team was not allowed to compete in the tournament we were staying in for the competition. We could not get currency converted as we are quarantined. Whatever cash the coacheshad,mostof itwasspent ordering food.” According to an official, India was to send a 20-member team of players and coaching staff for thechampionship.However,before leaving Delhi, one judoka testedpositiveanddidnottravel. The rest of the team was tested again after landing in Bishkek, and all of them were negative. Before the weigh-in, though, another test was conducted on theplayerswhichresultedinone judoka testing positive on Tuesday. The player is asymptomatic, the team official said. “Because of the local rules, all 19 of us are quarantined since we travelled together,” the team official said. “Consequently, none of our judokas could take part in the competition.” On Wednesday, another Indian player tested positive. In a statement, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said that the judokas had undergone four rounds of testing between March 30 and April 5 -- two in theweeksbeforeleaving,oneafter landing in Bishkek and one a day before the competition. “It was in the fourth test, before the competition, that the two were found Covid positive,” the SAI said. “They don’t have any major symptoms but have been quarantined at a safe facility.” TheSAIsaidthedailyrequirements are being "looked after by the money allocated to them (the team) as daily allowance for competition". “The Sports Ministry is in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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