DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2021, PUNE, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 SECOND SURGE: AS DAILY CASES TOUCH 2 LAKH, MORE STATES IMPOSE TIGHTER RESTRICTIONS Uddhav to PM: Press in NDMA, airlift oxygen THE EDITORIAL PAGE BENGAL POLLS: STATE OF TURMOIL BY CHRISTOPHE JAFFRELOT & KALAIYARASAN A PAGE 8 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY WORLD U.S. EXPELS RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS, IMPOSES FRESH SANCTIONS FRANCE ADVISES CITIZENS TO LEAVE PAK AMID THREATS Both jabs and containment: Centre points surge states to UK example KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, APRIL 15 ‘Maharashtra may have 11.9 lakh active Covid cases by April 30’ gencyservicestooperateasusual. Manufacturing units are also allowedtooperatewhileauto-rickshaw and cabs are allowed to ply foressentialandemergencypurposes. PMPML bus service will onlyoperateforworkersinemergency and essential services. Whiletheorderscategorically state that local residents should avoid stepping out unless they haveavalidreasontodoso,quite a few people were seen out on Pune streets on Thursday. PUNE DISTRICT on Thursday recorded 114 deaths due to Covid-19, the highest toll in the secondwaveof thepandemic.As many as 11,103 people have succumbed to the infection till date. Of the total 114 deaths, 49 are from Pune Municipal A RECORD 2 lakh new cases were reported in 24 hours as the coronavirus surge continued to sweep across the country on Thursday. Delhi became the latest state on Thursday to announce a local weekend curfew. In the multiple meetings held over the last one week with states, the Centre has advisedstatestofocusonrestricting local movement, vaccinating aggressively, and roping in doctors from other states to ease the pressure on the stretched local healthcare workforce. Top government sources who are part of the team monitoring the pandemic situation, toldTheIndianExpressthatstates had been given the example of the United Kingdom, which had adopted aggressive vaccination and containment in the form of a lockdown together when the new, highly infectious strain of the virus led to a surge in December last year. India's strategy currently is focussedon micro-containment rather than a full lockdown, restricting local movement, but not the inter-state movement of persons and services. “There is a danger when the numbers are increasing that you tend to overemphasise vaccination and underemphasise containment, surveillance, testing, andenforcementof Covid-19appropriatebehaviour.Whenthere is a surge, merely by increasing the number of people who have been administered the first shot, youdon'tachievemeaningfulresults,” the states have been told CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 VISHWAS WAGHMODE MUMBAI, APRIL 15 HIGHLIGHTING CHALLENGES in battling the second wave of Covid-19 infections in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “press in” the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and make use of all options, including the airlift of medical oxygen, for rapid movement. He has also requested the PM to grant compulsory licences to units exporting remdesivir to produce and sell them in the domestic market. In a letter dated April 13, the Chief Minister said that based on current projections and rate of testing, Maharashtra could have 11.9 lakh active cases by April 30. “The biggest concern is Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) supply. The requirement of medical oxygen in the state is crossing the total capacity of 1,200 MT of LMO manufacturing. We have projected the demand will be close to 2,000 MT per day by April-end,” he wrote. He said the state has started lifting oxygen from nearby locations. It is also mobilising tankers to lift oxygen cylinders from far-off locations. “But some of these areas are located at a distance and face disruption risks... I request you to press in NDMA for this move- Uddhav Thackeray A woman whose husband died of Covid is consoled by her children, outside a mortuary in Delhi on Thursday. Danish Siddiqui/ Reuters MORE REPORTS PAGE6 ment and all options, including air-lifting these quantities, be considered,” Thackeray said. Welcoming the Union government’s decision to ban the export of remdesivir, he wrote: “I request you to direct authorities to grant compulsory licence as per Section 92 of Indian Patents Act, 1970, which will facilitateapproval to these exporting units to produce and sell Remdesivirindomesticmarket.” MORE REPORTS PAGES 3, 5, 11 CURFEW, DAY 1 IN PUNE CITY Non-essential stores down shutters, but some residents out on streets despite curbs AJAYJADHAV& RUCHIKAGOSWAMY PUNE, APRIL 15 WHILENEARLYallnon-essential commodity shops in Pune city remained shut on Thursday — Day 1 of the curfew-like restrictions imposed across the state — many local residents were seen moving around freely despite the restrictions. The administration has allowed all essential and emer- Family members of Covid patients stage an agitation in Pune to protest the unavailability of Remdesivir injections. Pavan Khengre Pune district sees highest daily toll in second wave: 114 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE PUNE, APRIL 15 PAGE 12 INSIDE SAGAR RAJPUT MUMBAI, APRIL 15 SITALKUCHI: 24-HR CAMPAIGN BAN ON BENGAL BJP CHIEF Will get back on 10 pending names for FOR REMARKS PAGE 7 HC judges in 3 months: AG to CJI bench INDIA WON’T BE PUSHED, STOOD names, a decision will be taken FIRM AGAINST ANANTHAKRISHNAN G within three months,” Attorney CHINA: RAWAT PAGE 11 NEW DELHI, APRIL 15 THE SUPREME Court Thursday told the Centre that it must set itself a timeline to respond to recommendations made by the Collegium to fill up vacancies in posts of judges. It said the government must let the Court know about the timelineatthenextdateof hearing. The government, meanwhile, assured the Court that it will take a decision within the nextthreemonthsontennames still pending with it after being recommendedbytheCollegium for appointment as High Court judges. The ten pending recommendations include those for the High Courts of Calcutta, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. “The response on the ten PAGE 1 ANCHOR General K K Venugopal told the bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices S K Kaul and Surya Kant when he was asked “What is the position of Collegium recommendations pending with the Centre?”. Thebenchrecordedthisinits order: “Mr K K Venugopal, learned Attorney General for India appearing for the Union of India, states that the Government will take a decision regarding ten names sent to it vide letters dated 25.07.2019, 17.10.2019and18.08.2020which are pending from more than six months, within a period of three months and communicate the same to this Court accordingly.” The CJI told Venugopal: “Mr Attorney General, I think this case can be brought to a conclusion if the Centre tells us the Nightmare ends, couple jailed in Qatar on drug charges return to Mumbai MORE THAN 21 months ago, when Mohammad Shareeq and Oniba Qureshi left for Qatar on what they believed would be a second honeymoon, they could not have imagined they would end up in prison with a 10-year sentence for a drug offence. Thecouplereturnedhomeon Thursday morning, after spending a year and nine months be- Mohammad Shareeq, Oniba Qureshi with child. Express hind bars in Qatar. Still traumatised,theyruedhavingtrustedan aunt who had tried to use them as a courier for drugs. The aunt has since been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for running a “well-organised drug trafficking syndicate”. Speaking to The Indian Express, Shareeq recalled the night the aunt, Tabassum Qureshi, hadcalledthemandinsisted they make the trip to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 In Nadia, which BJP wrested in 2019, TMC’s key election plank: this is local, not national talks to them about the April 17 elections and asks them if they NADIA, APRIL 15 arebeneficiariesof thestategovernment’s schemes. SUJITBISWAS,46,aTMC They nod. Then he delogo on his shirt, sits in livers his punchline. his kirana store right “Do you think all the next to the crumbling schemes, the cycles, Rupashree (Rs 25,000National Highway that connects Kolkata to DECISION aid for marriage), Kanyashree (girl scholSiliguri on the outskirts 2021 arships)… these of SantipurinNadia.His WEST schemes will continue perch is a vantage point BENGAL if Didi goes? This —theentirewardcomes is a state election. shopping to his store. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 As three women arrive, he DIPANKAR GHOSE The BJP office in Nabadwip. Dipankar Ghose CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Helping India, Pak get to level where they speak to each other, confirms UAE UAE envoy to US: Important they have a healthy, functional relationship SHUBHAJIT ROY NEW DELHI, APRIL 15 IN THE first official confirmation of the United Arab Emirates playing a role in bringing Delhi and Islamabad to the talks table, the UAE’s envoy to the US has said that his country is mediating between India and Pakistan to help them reach a “healthy and functional” relationship. AmbassadorYousef AlOtaiba said: “We try to be helpful, where we have influence with twodifferentcountries,soIndiaPakistan was the most recent one.” He cited media reports which he said “highlighted the role the UAE played in bringing the Kashmir escalation down and sort of created a ceasefire, hopefully, ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting therelationshipbacktoahealthy level”. E X P L A I NE D Set a timeline for reply to Collegium recommendations, tell us: SC to Govt E ● Treading gingerly OFFICIALS SAY India and Pakistan have been “carefully optimistic” of the steps taken in recent months. The February announcement to adhere to the ceasefire pact, the Indus Water Treaty talks in March after over two years, and demands within Pakistan to import cotton and sugar from India have made the two sides look at the next steps of engagement. In a conversation Wednesday with former US National Security Advisor H R McMaster under the aegis of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Where fighting forest fires takes a day of travel — by road, boat, trek AISHWARYA MOHANTY BHUBHANESWAR, APRIL 15 IN REMOTE forests of Odisha’s Malkangiri, fires have only been sporadic and more or less under control.Butforforestersengaged in the Chitrakonda range, firefighting has been challenging, to say the least. AtypicaldayforSarojGhadei, 36, a forest guard in Malkangiri, thatbordersAndhraPradeshand Chhattisgarh, begins with the identification of a fire-spot. On Tuesday, he began his onward journey,alongwithfiveothers,to the Jantri section to douse a fire. He first covered a 32-km stretch ontheroad.Thiswasfollowedby a nearly five-hour boat ride through the Balimela Reservoir. The motorboat was recently made available by the Forest Department through its mobility and patrolling fund, to ease commuting between the two sides of the reservoir. A long trek on foot, till it was almostdark,broughtthemtothe fire point. “Fire incidents have increased manifold this year — bothduetonaturalaswellasanthropogenicreasons.InApril,we had calls everyday to douse fire. But for us to reach these remote ranges, it takes an entire day. We spend a whole day traveling and areabletoattendtoonly one fire point during one journey,” said Ghadei, who has been working as a forest guard in the Chitrakonda range for the last three years. ForGhadeiand histeam,carrying well-equipped machinery like an air blower to douse fire at higher altitudes of over 1,000 metres, makes the journey laborious. “If the fire points are close by, we can attend to them using our equipment, but most of A forest department team at the Chitrakonda range. Express these points are on higher altitudes. We trek with minimum baggageformoreefficiency,”another forester said. In the absence of these, the fire-fighting team resorts to beating branches to cut off air supply and douse the fire. As a part of their minimal baggage, they carry dry snacks and drink water from the streams across the forest. “In these remote locations at such higher elevation, there are hardly a handful of families, that too scattered over a large patch. At times, it is difficult to get help if needed,” Ghadei said. Thereasonsfortheincreasein the incidents of forest fires in Malkangiri are similar across the state,withlongdryspellswithout rains and higher temperatures. “WehadanticipatedmajorfireincidentsbetweenApril10andApril 17,butthemostincidentswerereported in the first week of the monthitself.Thesituationisnow under control. We have tried to keep our foresters close to the range in the villages, but connectivity(mobilenetwork)isamajor issue. So they stay in fringe areas where they can use the real-time apptospotfirepoints,”Divisional ForestOfficer,Malkangiri,Pradeep Mirase said. The forest department had also started awareness programmes at villages and roped in locals to help in the exercise. Apart from the high temperatures, the practice of slash and burncultivation,andinfluxof villagersfromnearbydistricts,who tend to cook and eat in the forest areasduringtheirjourneytocelebratethelocalfestivalBadaJatra, alsocontributedtowardstheforest fires. While the forests of Malkangiri do not boast of a rich wildlife presence, they have abundant teak wood trees and medicinal plants. Pune
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.