DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 2,61,500 NEW CASES OVER 24 HOURS Oxygen shortage hits states, Delhi sends an SOS to Centre: ‘Emergency’ Goyal asks states to keep demand in check; curbs on supplies to industries; rlys to run oxygen trains A testing camp at Sabarmati railway station for those returning from Kumbh mela Sunday. Nirmal Harindran 2nd wave coming: Serosurveys had raised red flags — but little else EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, APRIL 18 R S SHARMA CHAIRMAN OF EMPOWERED GROUP ON VACCINE ADMINISTRATION; CEO, NATIONAL HEALTH AUTHORITY PAGE 12 Now, third session of JEE Main exams postponed EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, APRIL 18 THE EDUCATION Ministry on Sunday postponed the third session of the Joint Entrance Examination (Main), making it the third national exam to be deferredinviewoftheCovid-19situation in the country. The first two sessions of the onlineengineeringentrancetest werecompletedinFebruaryand March. The third session was to be held from April 27-30. Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said the National TestingAgencywouldannounce the next date at least 15 days before the examination is to begin. According to sources, the schedule of the UGC-NET, which was to be conducted from May 2 to May 17 will also be changed. "Given the current #covid19 situation,Ihaveadvised@DG_NTA topostponetheJEE(Main)-2021 April Session. I would like to reiteratethatsafetyof ourstudents& their academic career are @EduMinOfIndia''sandmyprime concernsrightnow,"hetweeted. This week, the Ministry announced the postponement of the Class 12 CBSE Board examination and cancellation of the Class 10 examination. Following the CBSE announcement, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) said the board exams for Classes X and XII would be deferred for now, and a “final decision” would be taken “by the first week of June”. SECOND SURGE IN LETTER TOPM, MAMATA FLAGS VACCINE, DRUG SHORTAGE PAGE 6 PAGE 1 ANCHOR E CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E X P L A I NE D ‘Co-Win an extremely scalable platform...tech backbone is in place, we can handle (vaccine) load that comes’ WITHSHORTAGEinsuppliesbeing flagged across the country, Delhi Sunday joined the growing list of states that are scrambling to ensure adequate availability of oxygen for Covid patients as the country logged 2,61,500 new cases over the last 24 hours. The Centre, however, placed theonusof tacklingthesituation on state governments, with Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal saying that they “should keep demand under control”. Earlier, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pointed out that Delhi is facing an “acute shortage of oxygen”. “In view of sharply increasing cases, Delhi needs much more than normal supply. Rather than increasing supply, our normal supply has been sharply reduced and Delhi’s quota has been diverted to other states,” he tweeted. Kejriwal wrote that “oxygen Key element in ● treatment THE SHORTAGE is critical because oxygen therapy is considered the most effective treatment to reduce the severity of disease. An uninterrupted supply is key for surge states to bring their Covid-linked mortality rate under control. STORM AFTER THE CALM TACKLING THE SECOND COVID WAVE AN EXPRESS SERIES PART ONE A Covid patient being attended to outside LLR Hospital in Kanpur on Sunday. PTI MP hospital tells a story: Manmohan to PM: Make 6 Covid patients die in a vaccine orders public, night as oxygen runs out give states flexibility IRAM SIDDIQUE BHOPAL, APRIL 18 SIXPATIENTSof Covid-19diedat theICUwardof ShahdolMedical CollegeearlyonSunday,allegedly due to shortage of oxygen. Thirteen Covid patients have died in the hospital in the 24 hours up to 6 pm on Sunday. Alarm bells started ringing at the hospital around 10 pm on Saturday after the pressure of liquid medical oxygen in the tank that supplies to the hospital’s ICU unit dropped. The medical college had THE EDITORIAL PAGE WAITINGTO EXHALE Needed in the growing alarm: A reassuring voice of leadership PAGE 8 askedforarefill,andwasexpecting the tank to be topped up at 11 pm, but the oxygen truck coming from the manufacturing plant was stuck at Damoh, some 240 km away. College Dean Dr Milind CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, APRIL 18 STRESSING THAT the country is “facinganunprecedentedemergency”, former prime minister Manmohan Singh asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a letteronSundaytomakepublicdetails of the orders placed by the Government for Covid vaccine doses and indicate the strategy for them to be distributed in a transparent manner. The senior Congress leader also asked the Prime Minister to provide some flexibility to states ‘Focus on percentage vaccinated’ to define categories of frontline workers for vaccination even if they are below 45 years of age, which is the current cut-off. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 RAHUL CANCELS RALLIES IN BENGAL PAGE 10 Delhi DRDO Covid facility that was shut during lull to open again ANANYA TIWARI NEW DELHI, APRIL 18 Migrant workers waiting for outbound trains, at Kalupur station in Ahmedabad on Sunday. Nirmal Harindran SHUT TWO months ago, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Covid hospital constructed by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) near Dhaula Kuan in Delhi will reopen for Covid patients on Monday. The facility had been opened At the DRDO Covid centre on Sunday. Abhinav Saha inJulylastyearwhenthecitysaw a shortage of ICU beds, and had the capacity to admit 1,000 patients. On Monday, it is expected to restart with 250 ICU-ventilator beds, DRDO officials said. Over the past two weeks, Delhi has seen record surges in Covid cases.Close to25,500new cases were detected on Sunday, the most for any Indian city so CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Amid migrant movement, In a first, JMM discloses electoral Sitharaman reassures industry: no full lockdown bond details: Rs 1 cr from Hindalco SANDEEP SINGH NEW DELHI, APRIL 18 AMID A sharply rising Covid curve, with migrant workers starting to crowd railway stations and bus terminals in scenes reminiscent of the days following last year’s nationwide lockdown, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reached out to industry associations and leaders of India Inc to reassure them that the government has no plan to impose another such lockdown, and will instead focus on creating small containment zones. Sitharaman also conveyed to them that PM Narendra Modi CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI, APRIL 18 IN A first since the Central Government introduced electoral bonds for political donations, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)hasdisclosedthenameof the sole donor who contributed to the party through the contro- versial scheme. HeadedbyformerJharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren, the stateparty,initscontributionreport for the financial year 201920 submitted to the Election Commission (EC), has revealed that it received Rs 1 crore from Hindalco Industries Limited through an electoral bond. The report mentions that the donationcameviabondnumber AAACH1201R issued by the Court Compound Branch of the State Bank of India (SBI). Hindalcoisanaluminiumand copper manufacturing company andasubsidiaryoftheAdityaBirla Group.Itrunsanaluminarefinery in Jharkhand’s Muri among its other operations in the country. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AMITABH SINHA & KAUNAIN SHERIFF GAYA, NEW DELHI, APRIL 18 IT DOESN’T need a galaxy of experts to list what’s needed: boosting Covidvaccination,augmenting oxygen and beds, expanding genome sequencing, ramping up testing and tracing, bringing down the infection level — all of this double quick. But as the second wave climbs higher each day, both in cases and deaths and the Centre and states scramble to respond, there’s a growing — and grudging — acceptance that one obvious fact eluded many. That, in a population of a billion plus, a pandemic doesn’t vanish as it seemed to do barely a couple of months ago. That a second wave was going to come. “We were quiteluckytohave this wonderful window of opportunity between November andJanuarywhenthecurvewas falling across India,” said ViranderSinghChauhan,former director of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering Biotechnology. “Unfortunately, it served to instill a false sense of security. Everyone thought the virus had magically disappeared when anyone with a basic idea of infectious diseases knew it was lurking very much within us and could strike anytime…There are several things we should have done during this time but, I have to say it, we messed it up big time,” Chauhan said. To be sure, a falling Covid curve, a low fatality ratio, a large young andasymptomatic population and the economic and social imperatives of opening up, meantthatthesecondwavewas inevitable. But the four-month lull, experts agree, could have CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 LATE NIGHT DRAMA OVER REMDESIVIR Fadnavis intervenes in police questioning of pharma official, sparks new Maharashtra row SHUBHANGI KHAPRE, JAYPRAKASH S NAIDU & MOHAMED THAVER MUMBAI, APRIL 18 ANEWpoliticalrowbrokeouton SundaybetweentheMaharashtra government and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over thelatter’sapparentinvolvement in procuring supplies of remdesivir through a pharma company basedinDaman,andhisinterventiontopreventtheMumbaiPolice fromquestioningadirectorofthe company. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray did not speak on the controversy, but senior cabinet members from the Nationalist CongressPartyand theCongress attacked Fadnavis for procuring the medicine on his own, questioned his intentions, and accused him of interfering in the work of the police. Remdesivir, developed as a drugforEbola,isinhighdemand for the treatment of Covid-19, Vaccination drive at Thane hospital Sunday. Deepak Joshi eventhoughitsbenefitshavenot been established by research. The broad spectrum antiviral is in short supply, and the government has prohibited its export. The fracas began late on Saturday night, when a Mumbai-baseddirectorof Bruck Pharma Pvt Ltd was summoned bytheBandraKurlaComplexpolice for questioning after receiving what Mumbai Police said was “specific information” that the company was holding CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A city’s choice: College Street bookstores to Jorasanko workshops DIPANKAR GHOSE KOLKATA, APRIL 18 AT THE heart of Kolkata lies a bundle of contradictions. On tracks that cut through tarred roads, trams trundle unhurriedly.Aroundthem,thewhirlof new moneyand luxuryvehicles, speeding along roads that are one-way at one time, another way the next. Large bungalows and gleaming glass edifices sit next door to heritage homes, their columns and rafters exquisite and crumbling. Come this election, Kolkata, that bastion of Bengali exceptionalism, has a similarly convoluted choice to nounces the “corporatization of make. Presidency College”, another Of going back to the Left that proclaims “Lohia raj nahi has a very little chance of win- chalega.” The pandemic means ning the election, of many such colleges are sticking to the TMC that shut but on College swept the city, is very Street, most of the book much Bengali but not shops are doing brisk quite bhadralok, or the business. “Konboi chai” rising BJP that promises (Which book do you jobs and vikas but want?) is the question DECISION you are asked. comes with its own 2021 unique trappings. “This is Kolkata. WEST Onanafternoonthis Even when colleges are BENGAL shut, a book market is week, the gates of Presidency College are crowded,” said Tapan firmly shut with three guards Ghosh who has owned a bookstaring at their phones. On the storeheresince1967.“Politicians wall are two posters, one de- are all the same. The CPM guys In 2016, the TMC swept all 14 seats in Kolkata. By 2019, the BJP led in three of those. Dipankar Ghose first moved to TMC, now some TMChavegoneto BJP.WhatIam most wary of is that our culture should not change.” The word “culture” is almost a caricature of the “bhadralok” Bengalibutit’sarefrainthistime. A kilometre from Presidency is Vidyasagar College where the TMC alleged BJP supporters in 2019 broke in and damaged the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. It was a momentthe TMC seized then, accusing the BJP of attacking Bengal with “outsiders”,atermnowfrequent in the political lexicon. Outsidethecollege,theanger over the 2019 incident has di- minished but some doubts remain.“TheBJPhasbroughtsome leaders in but their main campaigners are all from Delhi. Prime Minister Modi may be goodinDelhibutwhydon’ttheir stateleadersleadthecampaign? Why Amit Shah? Do these people understand Bengal, understand our ethos?” asked Saikat Rai, a 45-year-old resident. But Rai’s question isn’t exactly a chorus. While there are seats in Kolkata and its suburbs like Tollygunge or Dum Dum that fall in other parliamentary constituencies too, Kolkata has two Parliamentary constituencies, North and South, that have a total of 14 seats. In2016,theTMCsweptthem all. By 2019, though, the BJP led in three: Rashbehari, Jorasanko and Shyampukur. While these were all with small leads within 5000 votes, in at least two other seats, including Mamata Banerjee’s erstwhile seat of Bhabanipur,theTMCledbyslender margins too. Next to Saikat Rai, Partha Thakur, younger and just out of college, voted for the BJP in 2019 and will do so again. “How long will we keep saying they do not understand Bengal? The BJP will bring jobs and industry to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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.