DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 18 PAGES NOIDA DAY `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 3 PUBLIC SECTOR COMPANIES WILL STEP IN TO RAMP UP PRODUCTION; SECOND DAY, OVER 2 LAKH CASES WorrystatesUP,Chhattisgarhinfocus; Covaxinsuppliestobedoubledsoon PM: Ensure free movement of oxygen tankers; MHA writes to Chief Secys WORLD ANURADHA MASCARENHAS & PRABHA RAGHAVAN PUNE, NEW DELHI, APRIL 16 KAUNAIN SHERIFF M & DEEPTIMAN TIWARY NEW DELHI, APRIL 16 POLICE: EIGHT DEAD IN INDIANAPOLIS MASS SHOOTING PAGE 14 IMD predicts third straight year of normal monsoon ANJALI MARAR PUNE, APRIL 16 THE MONSOON will be normal this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its first stage Long Range Forecast (LRF) on Friday. If the forecast is accurate, this willbethethirdconsecutiveyear of normal monsoon in the country. The four-month southwest monsoon season brings India about 70 per cent of its annual rainfall. The IMD releases its LRF twiceeveryyear,inAprilandJune. Quantitative rainfall during June to September would be 98 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA), which is in the ‘normal rainfall’ category, IMD Director General Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said in an online briefing. The LPA for the southwest monsoon season, calculated over the 50-year period from 1961 to 2010, is 880 mm of rain. While the forecast is normal forthecountryasawhole,rainfall is expected to be below normal WITH THE demand for vaccines increasing, the Centre Friday announced a plan to double by May-June the Covaxin production capacity of Hyderabadbased Bharat Biotech, including a grant of Rs 65 crore for building a new production facility in Bengaluru. OnFriday,asthecountryregistered a record 2,17,353 new cases and 1,185 deaths, several states reported shortage of oxygen supply due to the surge. Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting on the current situation of oxygen supply and projected use over the next 15 days in 12 high-incidence states — Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The Prime Minister was informed that 4,880 metric tonne (MT), 5,619 MT, and 6,593 MT have been allocated to these 12 statestomeettheirprojecteddemandasonApril20,April25and April 30; and of the decision Thursday to import medicalgrade oxygen. The Prime Minister directed the authorities to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country. After the meeting, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued specific directions to Chief Secretaries of the states: ensure that no restrictions are imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between the states, that transport authorities be CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Shortage of vaccine raw materials, SII CEO to Biden: End export embargo People buying oxygen cylinders in Lucknow, Friday. The UP government has announced a lockdown on Sunday. Vishal Srivastav ICSE, ISC exams put off, Class X students can opt not to take board exam EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, APRIL 16 THE COUNCIL for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) said on Friday that the board exams for Classes X and XII,scheduledtobeginonMay4, would be deferred for now, and a“finaldecision”wouldbetaken “by the first week of June” after reviewingtheCovid-19situation. “In the light of the nationwidesurgeinCovid-19cases,the CISCE has decided to defer the EXPLAINED SIMPLY PUT OXYGEN CRISIS: EXTENT,SOLUTIONS PAGE 13 THE SECOND SURGE NEEDTORETHINK EDUCATIONSYSTEM CREMATORIUMS, ICSE (Class X) and ISC (Class XII) board examinations scheduled to be held from May 4, 2021,” CISCE Chief Executive and SecretaryGerryArathoonsaidin a press statement. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Whythisiscritical THEMATERIALSflaggedby Poonawalla—plasticbags, filtersandcellculturemedia —arerelevanttomostvaccinesbeingmadetobattle Covid-19.Therestrictions,a resultof theUSDefence ProductionAct,maynot onlycauseafightforlimited resources,butmayalsodelayregulatoryclearancesof someof theseproducts,accordingtoexperts. they have not responded.” “We are hoping that the Biden administration takes a moreglobalperspectivethanthe previous administration which was lookingatonly America and America first – that is our hope, our umeed,” he said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Covid SOP crumbles before Kumbh numbers, Akhadas take own steps LALMANI VERMA HARIDWAR, APRIL 16 THE EDITORIAL PAGE BY AMEETA MULLA WATTAL PAGE 10 SERUM INSTITUTE of India CEO Adar Poonawalla Friday urged US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on export of rawmaterials needed to ramp up production of Covishield and Covovax, the Covid-19 vaccines it is making in India. In a Twitter post, tagging the US President, Poonawalla said: “Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details.” He later told The Indian Express: “The vaccine industry, outside the United States, needs plasticbags,filtersandmediasolutions which are critical in the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccine. For a month, we have been asking the US authorities, but GRAVEYARDS SPILL OVER, BEDS FALL SHORT IN LUCKNOW STATE GOVT MUST DECLARE ACCURATE DATA ON COVID-19: GUJARAT HC PAGE 6 ADAYafterthedeathof thehead of the Maha Nirvani Akhada from Madhya Pradesh, who had arrivedfortheKumbhandtested positive for the coronavirus, several akhadas at the Mela on Friday rushed to take precautionary steps. The Niranjani Akhada and Taponidhi Shri Anand Panchayati Akhada announced symbolic participation atthenextshahisnanonApril27, "withaminimumpossiblenumber of sadhus". Both also urged A Covid testing camp at Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar. Lalmani Verma theirfollowerstoleaveandquarantine at their ashrams. At least 59 saints have tested positive so far, including the president of the Akhil Bharatiya CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 UK approves Nirav No clubbing of remaining phases, EC cuts SPO questions Army Modi’s extradition; he short campaigning hours, days in Bengal searches for militants, can make final appeal is slapped with UAPA EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE DEEPTIMAN TIWARY NEW DELHI, APRIL 16 THE UK government on Friday approved the extradition of fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi to India. Unless the decision is overturned by the High Court in that country, he should be brought back to India soon, sources said. Nirav Modi is wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank loan fraud case by CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. “The (UK) government has approved it. It is now up to the court,” a CBI officer told The Indian Express. On February 25, a District Judge at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London had ordered Nirav Modi's extra- PAGE 1 ANCHOR BUSINESS AS USUAL NEW DELHI, KOLKATA, APRIL 16 Was arrested in London in March 2019 dition, following which the case wassenttotheSecretaryof State fortheUKHomeDepartmentfor approval. Modi now has 14 days to appeal in the High Court. The Magistrate's Court had held that the evidence against Modi was prima facie sufficient to extradite him to face charges in India. The court accepted the assurances given by the Indian government, and rejected the submissions of the defence about possible violations of human rights, poor prison CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AMID RISING Covid cases, the Election Commission banned all formsof campaigning,including rallies, street plays and nukkad sabhas,between7pmand10am in West Bengal starting Friday. It also extended the silence period for campaigning from 48 hours to 72 hours before voting day for thephasesonApril22,26and29 in view of "the unprecedented In Kolkata on Friday, on the eve of polling day. PTI public health situation". The order came after the state Chief Electoral smaller meetings in- machinery to deal with all violaOfficer (CEO) held an allstead of big rallies. tions strictly, and cancel rallies party meeting, where The EC also wrote and invoke penal action if parties were urged to to all parties asking needed. abide by Covid guidethem to advise their CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 DECISION leadersandcandidates lines, including manda2021 tory masks for candito adhere to the camWEST dates and campaigners, paigning guidelines MORE REPORTS BENGAL and advised to hold and directed the state PAGE 7 BY UNNY WEST BENGAL 5TH PHASE TODAY 12,263 Seats 45 of No. of polling 294 booths 319 No. of candidates BASHAARAT MASOOD SRINAGAR, APRIL 16 A DAY after her video objecting tofrequentsearchesof herhouse by the Army in South Kashmir went viral, the J&K Police on Friday arrested a Special Police Officer (SPO) under anti-terror lawsandterminatedherservices. Police said the action against the SPO, identified as Saima Akhter, was taken for "glorifying terrorism and obstructing government officials in the discharge of duty". In the video, the woman from Frisal village of South Kashmir's Kulgam, whoseface is not visible, can be heard shouting at Armymen for not sparing the family from searches even during Ramzan, and calling them outsiders. "Whydoyoucomeagainand again? Go to the houses where militants are. You don't even allow us to have our sehri (predawn meal during Ramzan)... If you have to search our house, first remove your shoes," she shouts. Saying her mother was not well, the woman adds, "If something happens to her, then you will see." As an Armyman, who can't be seen either, shouts back, the woman says they can't frighten her. "Shut your mouth. We are notgoingtobescared.Thisisour Kashmir. You have come from outside. Do whatever you want to do," the woman says, adding, "If they (militants) had been here,theywouldhavepumpeda burst of fire into your heart." CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Direct MSP transfers begin, Punjab farmers ring in the new ANJU AGNIHOTRI CHABA JALANDHAR, APRIL 16 DALIPKUMAR(39),of Nilpurvillage near Rajpura, says he is the happiest he's ever been in his 15 years spent as a farmer. The reason: two text messages that he has got on his phone, announcing the credit of Rs 1.90 lakh and Rs 1.48 lakh into his bank account as the minimum support price (MSP) of 171 quintals of wheat that he sold in Rajpura mandi. Dalip took the produce of around10acres of hislandto the mandi. He farms 40 acres, and will take the remaining wheat for procurement in the coming days. At the MSP of Rs 1,975 per quintal,hesaidthiswouldbethe first time hewouldget his hands on such a large sum in one go. “This is the best system. What could be better than getting payment for our crop in our account?” Dalip told The Indian Express. “Earlier, arhtiyas gave us a cheque. After we took our crop to the mandi, everything was in the hands of the agent. The final settlement of accounts took time, as the arhtiya always found an excuse to defer the payment even after the farmer had repaid any debts he might have had.” Dalip is one of the first three Punjab farmers to receive the payment of wheat MSP directly into his account. Pushed by the Centre,thestategovernmenthas implemented the system of direct payment for the first time in the face of stiff opposition from the politically and financially powerful arhtiya associations. Tarlochan Singh (49) of Bhurara village in Chamkaur Sahib of Ropar district, has receivedRs1.56lakhinhisaccount for the produce of 3 out of his 12 acres of land under wheat. He said he has been farming for more than two decades, and At a grain market in Patiala on Friday. Harmeet Sodhi was happy with the new system — and that itwould notaffecthis relation with the arhtiyas. Gulzar Singh (50), from a village in Ludhiana, said he had harvestedwheaton20 outof his 25 acres and sold it at the Khanna mandi, one of the biggest in the region. “I have received some amount in my bank but I am not educated... Only when my son comes tomorrow will I get to know the exact amount,” he said. Gulzar said he was very happy with the system, but was worried about how it might work for the 23 acres of land he has taken on lease. “If the government asks for the land records, I will not be able to provide them because my landlord is in the US,” he said. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) recently asked the Punjab government to provide thelandrecordsof farmersinorder to transfer MSP payments. After the government said that about half the farmers were cultivators and not owners of the land, the Centre had suggested that Punjab should adopt a model similar to Haryana's which was providing details of cultivators for the payment of MSP. For now, payments are be- ingmadeonthebasisof Aadhaar and the quantity of crop being brought to the mandis. Ravi Bhagat, Director, Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, said that following testing and trials, a large number of farmers hadstartedtogetMSPpayments in their bank accounts. Farmer leader Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda, said the new system marks a big day in the life of the farmer — he has, for the first time, got the price of his crop in hand without having to depend on others.
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.