DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2021, AHMEDABAD, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `4.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 SECOND SURGE: AS DAILY COVID CASES TOUCH 2 LAKH, MORE STATES IMPOSE TIGHTER RESTRICTIONS EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE AHMEDABAD APRIL 15 A DAY after the Central board of Secondary Education's (CBSE) decision on its board exams, the Gujarat government postponed the state education boards class 10 and 12 exams till June and announced mass promotions for students of Classes 1-9 and Class 11. On May 15, the state government will review the Covid situation on May 15 and accordingly declare new dates for the board exams.Betweenannouncement of new dates and commencement of exams a period of 15 days would be given to the students, the state government stated. This means even if the new dates are announced on May15,thefirstexamwouldnot be conducted before June 1. In February, the Gujarat secondary and higher secondary CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 MORE REPORTS PAGE 3 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Both jabs and containment: Centre points surge states to UK example PAGE 1 ANCHOR NEW DELHI, APRIL 15 NEW DELHI, APRIL 15 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 focussedonmicro-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 MORE REPORTS PAGE4 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 in the meeting, the sources said. “When people say that the UK, which has a population of 6.6 crore, has vaccinated 2/3rds of its population and the (case) numbers have come down as a result – that is a fallacious narrative. Because if you look at scientific papers on the UK, they are saying the numbers came down because they (the UK) CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE 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 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A woman whose husband died of Covid is consoled by her children, outside a mortuary in Delhi on Thursday. Danish Siddiqui/ Reuters Uddhav to PM: Press in NDMA, airlift oxygen Gujarat HC questions data, raises remdesivir ‘myths’ VISHWAS WAGHMODE SOHINI GHOSH MUMBAI, APRIL 15 HIGHLIGHTINGCHALLENGESin battling the second wave of Covid-19 infections in Maharashtra, Chief Minister UddhavThackerayhasrequested PrimeMinisterNarendraModito “press in” the National Disaster ManagementAuthority(NDMA) and make use of all options, includingtheairliftof medicaloxygen, for rapid movement. HehasalsorequestedthePM May have 11.9 lakh active cases in state by April 30: CM 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 Ministersaidthatbasedon current projections and rate of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AHMEDABAD, APRIL 15 QUESTIONING OFFICIAL data on thesurgeinCovid-19casesinthe stateandtheavailabilityofhospital beds, the Gujarat High Court told the state government Thursdaythatitwasnotutilising itsresourcesproperly,andasked it to come out with an “open statement” on the “myths of remdesivir”. HearingasuomotuPILonthe Covid-19surge,thebenchofChief Nightmare ends, couple jailed in Qatar on drug charges return to Mumbai SAGAR RAJPUT MUMBAI, APRIL 15 SITALKUCHI: 24-HR CAMPAIGN BAN ON BENGAL BJP CHIEF FOR REMARKS PAGE 9 Will get back on 10 pending names for HC judges in 3 months: AG to CJI bench INDIA WON’T BE PUSHED, STOOD FIRM names, a decision will be taken AGAINST CHINA: ANANTHAKRISHNAN G within three months,” Attorney RAWAT PAGE 10 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 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE KAUNAIN SHERIFF M Set a timeline for reply to Collegium recommendations, tell us: SC to Govt NEW DELHI, APRIL 15 Fresh curbs in Delhi: Weekend curfew, malls & gyms shut 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 arebeneficiariesof thestategovNADIA, APRIL 15 ernment’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, National Highway that Rupashree (Rs 25,000connects Kolkata to DECISION aid for marriage), Siliguri on the outskirts Kanyashree (girl schol2021 of SantipurinNadia.His arships)… these WEST perch is a vantage point schemes will continue BENGAL —theentirewardcomes if Didi goes? This shopping to his store. is a state election. As three women arrive, he CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 DIPANKAR GHOSE The BJP office in Nabadwip. Dipankar Ghose Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia said several small districts had no access to RT-PCR facilities. It said the court’s suggestions in February to deal with the situation were “apparently not given due consideration”. Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said the Gujarat governmentwas“verymuchconscious of the worsening situation”, but thebenchremindedhimthatthe courthadfirstraisedthealarmin Februaryandhadsuggestedthat thestateactaccordinglytotackle CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A DAY after the city recorded the highest single-day spike (17,282 cases), the Delhi government on Thursday announced fresh restrictions to check the spread of Covid-19, including a weekend curfew, closure of shopping malls, auditoriums, gyms, spas, bars and dine-in services at restaurants. Thenationalcapitalrecorded 16,699newcasesand112deaths on Thursday. The positivity rate, however, increased from 16 per cent on Wednesday to 20 per cent on Thursday, while the number of tests fell from over a lakh to about 80,000. Announcing the new restrictions, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Weekend curfew will be imposed in the city. On weekdays, peoplegooutto earn. During weekends, people mostly go out for entertainment purposes. So to break the chain of transmission, weekend curbs are being enforced." An order issued by the Delhi DisasterManagementAuthority (DDMA) said the “weekend curfew on movement of individuals” would be from “10 pm Friday(April16)to5amMonday (April 19)”. The other curbs, along with night curfew which was imposed earlier, will stay till April 30. According to the DDMA order, “all shopping malls, gyms, spas, auditoriums, assembly halls, entertainment parks and similar places will be closed” throughtheweek.However,cinema halls/ multiplexes will be 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 Class 10, 12 exams put off: Gujarat state board 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 are abletoattendto only onefire point during one journey,” said Ghadei, who has been working as a forest guard in the Chitrakonda range for the last three years. ForGhadei and 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. Ahmedabad
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