DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA Oxygen leak in Covid hospital in Nashik, 24 patients die Most of the 157 patients in hospital were on oxygen/ventilator support Maharashtra further tightens curbs, home quarantine must for travelling between districts Serum lists one price for Centre, one for state govt; unprecedented, say states Central govt official says market will stimulate supply, free up resources to vaccinate poor NEW DELHI, APRIL 21 MUMBAI, APRIL 21 Oxygen leaking out of the main storage tank at the Zakir Hussain municipal hospital in Nashik on Wednesday. Express ZEESHAN SHAIKH NASHIK, APRIL 21 TWENTY-FOUR Covid-19 patients died at a hospital run by the Nashik Municipal Corporation on Wednesday after oxygensupply wasdisrupted duetoaleakageinthemainoxygen storage tank. While13ofthedeadwere60plus, the remaining were aged between33and60years.Twelve women were among the dead. The 150-bed Dr Zakir Husain Hospital, which was converted into a dedicated Covid hospital last year, had 157 patients at the timeof theincident,including15 on ventilator and 131 on oxygen support. Of these, 61 patients had been listed as critical. The 13-kilolitre oxygen tank was made operational only on March 31 this year. “Asperpreliminaryinformation, the socket of the... oxygen tank broke, which led to leakage in the tank and affected oxygen supply. The hospital staff used jumbocylinderstohelppatients. Some patients who could be moved were taken to other hospitals.However,22patientsdied as supply was cut off suddenly,” Nashik Divisonal Commissioner Radhakrishna Game said earlier INSIDE OXYGEN TANK USED FOR JUST 21 DAYS BEFORE IT MALFUNCTIONED NO FIR YET, POLICE WAIT FOR REPORT PAGE 4 in the day. Two more patients died in the evening, taking the toll to 24. The state government announced a probe by a sevenmember committee. Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the panel would be headed by Game. "If anyone is responsible for the deaths, they will face legal action," he said. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a compensationof Rs5lakheachtothe families of the dead. Chhagan Bhujbal, Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister as well as guardian minister of Nashik district, said the Nashik Municipal Corporation would also give Rs 5 lakh each to the families. While the Nashik Municipal Corporation had cleared the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 India & Covid: Sitharaman at first of Express-FT series today ENS ECONOMIC BUREAU NEW DELHI, APRIL 21 PAGE 1 ANCHOR COVISHIELD PER DOSE: RS 150 FOR CENTRE, RS 400 FOR STATES P VAIDYANATHAN IYER VISHWAS WAGHMODE IN THE first of a series of online, agenda-setting debates organised by The Indian Express and Financial Times, policy, business and finance leaders from India and overseas will gather for a discussion on India’s place in the post-pandemic world. Kicking off the event, titled ‘India’s Quest for Economic Power’, as the keynote speaker willbeFinanceMinisterNirmala Sitharamaninconversationwith journalists from both FT and The Indian Express. ‘India’s Place in the PostPandemic World’ is the broad theme of the online series that `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 LEAK IN MAIN STORAGE TANK CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES ONLYAUTHORISEDmedicaland government personnel will be able to board local trains, metro and mono trains, private transport such as taxi and auto-rickshawwillbeallowedonlyincase of an emergency, and people travelling to other districts will have to undergo mandatory 14day home quarantine as Maharashtra government further tightened restriction across thestateinthewakeof alarming surge in the number of new Covid-19 cases. Even as it continued to shy away from the use of the word “lockdown”inofficialcommunication, the curbs, announced on Wednesday,weremorestringent thananyotherrestrictionsputin place in recent past in the state. The new set of restrictions will come into effect from 8pm on Thursday and will remain in force until 7am on May 1. Under the new restrictions, inter-district travel by private transport will be restricted to emergencypurposesonly.While passengers will be allowed to travel on long-distance trains and buses, their hands will be stamped and they will be sent to a two-week home quarantine. Buses will ply with 50 per cent of their seating capacity. In a bid to rein in fresh infections, the Maharashtra government first announced curbs on April 4 and kept revising them with last order on April 20. The government has also drastically reduced the attendance of staff at all government offices,includingthosegoverned by the centre, to 15 per cent or ● begins Thursday. With the Covid-19 pandemic and second wave of infections clouding the outlookforIndia’seconomicand businessgrowth,thediscussions will revolvearound what should be the government’s key policy prioritiestorebuildtheeconomy to ensure a resilient, sustainable recovery, and to attract foreign investments. Pending structural reforms are another key themethatwillbeunderfocus. The interview with Sitharamanwillbefollowed by a panel discussion on sustained growth with KV Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor, Jahangir Aziz, Head, Emerging Markets Economics, JP Morgan; Rohini Malkani, Senior VP, Credit Ratings, Global Sovereign Ratings, DBRS Morningstar and P Anbalagan, CEO, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation(MIDC).Evenbefore the shock of Covid-19, India’s economy had been losing momentum, with growth steadily slowing. Now, after a large GDP contraction due to the pandemic, medium to long-term CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ‘Can’t get over sight of people taking cylinders from dead to revive kin’ ZEESHAN SHAIKH NASHIK, APRIL 21 WATCHING PEOPLE snatch oxygen cylinders from the bedside of deadpatientstotryandrevive their own family members, and doing the same for his own dying grandmother was a “dehumanising”moment,recalled23year-old Vicky Jadhav. His grandmother, 65-year-old Sugandha Thorat, was among at least 24 patients who died after oxygen supply was affected due to a leakage in the main storage tankatNashik’sDrZakirHussain Hospital on Wednesday. “Seeing people die in front of your eyes in less than an hour is traumatic.ButIcan’tgetoverthe sight of watching people clamouring to take away oxygen cylinders from the beds of dead patients and trying to use them to revive their own loved ones. Even I tried to do that but it was of no use,” said Jadhav. Thorat was in a critical stage BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Vicky Jadhav with grandmother Sugandha Thorat, one of the deceased with her oxygen saturation at just 38 when Jadhavwalkedinto thehospitalat10amtomeether. But he realised she was not receiving oxygen and raised an alarm with the staff, he said. “When I told them that the system was not working they went to check the system and then detected a leak. As soon as that happened there was panic on the third floor where most of the critical patients were kept CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NAGPUR, APRIL 21 GEORGE FLOYD CASE: FORMER COP CHAUVIN FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER AUSTRALIA CANCELS BELT AND ROAD DEALS WITH CHINA PAGE 10 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Somekey questions THE KEY question facing states is, given orders from states, how will Serum decide where to send how many stocks. Also, how do stocks move to private hospitals? There is concern that small towns and areas not served well by private healthcare may be hit. UPSET WITH non-compliance with its April 19 order to supply 10,000 Remdesivir injections to Nagpur by 8 pm on that day, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up senior officials over the issue during the course of three hearings which began in the afternoon and extended till around 10.30 pm. ThebenchcomprisingJustice SunilShukre and Justice Avinash Gharotesummonedtopofficials, including Divisional Commissioner Sanjiv Kumar, Nagpur Collector Ravindra Thakre, Municipal CommissionerRadhakrishnan B and Joint Commissioner Vijay Midnight Tuesday, there were no beds available in Delhi’s Lok Nayak Hospital, a dedicated Covid facility. Prem Nath Pandey 146 districts cause for concern, positivity of over 15%: Govt KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, APRIL 21 THECENTREsaidonWednesday that146districtshavereporteda positivityrateof over15percent and are a “cause of concern”, while274districtshavereported 5-15 per cent case positivity. It also released data which showed that post-vaccination, only “2-4 persons per 10,000” had tested positive. A total of 2,95,041 new cases and 2,023 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The number of active cases has now crossed the 21-lakh mark, while the death toll has touched 1,82,553. “These 146 districts are a cause of concern. We have held detailed discussions with the 146 districts on efforts that have to be undertaken to control the spreadof infection.Thesearethe districts where the maximum number of cases are coming and the health system is facing the strain of new cases,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said. Bhushan said for the next phase of vaccination, which begins May 1, the Centre will inform the states 15 days in advance about the doses it will receive. He said the vaccine prices charged by private hospitals will be monitored. “The Centre will inform the states in advance that for the next 15 days they will receive a specific number of doses... They will have a bigger picture as well CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Delhi HC to Centre: Beg, borrow, steal, it’s your job to get oxygen SOFI AHSAN NEW DELHI, APRIL 21 UNDERLINING THAT it is the government's responsibility to provide oxygen to medical facilities, the Delhi High Court came down strongly on the Centre on Wednesday, saying it seemed that “human lives are not that important.. for the state". “Beg, borrow or steal. It is a national emergency,” said the HC: Officers shirking responsibilities in giving relief to Covid patients VIVEK DESHPANDE THE WORLD WITH the Central government earmarking 50 per cent of vaccinesforsaleintheopenmarket, several states and even policy makers within the establishment are disturbed by a differential pricing announced by Serum Institute of India Wednesday, raising doubts about vaccine equity and fair inter se distribution amongst states and between states and private hospitals. Kose during the course of the hearings. The bench began the first hearing around 2.30 pm with Justice Shukre admonishing the officials for not supplying the requisite quantity of Remdesivir as earlier directed by the bench. It put off the hearing in less than 30 minutes, asking the officials to come up with proper explanation and data at 4 pm. The second hearing went on for about an hour. Apparently dissatisfied with the response, the bench adjourned the hearing again and asked the officials to immediatelyconvene ameeting of the district Covidcommittee under the Divisional Commissioner and come out withclearinformationaboutthe supply of the antiviral drug and CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli. “We are shocked and dismayed that the governmentdoesnotseemtobe seeing the reality... What is happening? Why is the government not waking up to the reality,” said the court. The court was holding a special hearing after Max Healthcare network sought its urgent intervention, saying that most of its hospitals were workingon“dangerouslylowlevelsof oxygen supply”. “Every 10 days, we have doubled the number of (Covid-19) cases and the fact of the matter on the ground is that there is a shortage of oxygen and it is evident to all. It is not that it is artificialorbeingwronglyprojected. It is there. We cannot shut our eyes to it,” said the court. “As a state, you cannot say that look we can provide this much and no more, so if people CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 In BJP rank & file, a worry: ‘Phone calls pour in for bed, cylinder… can do little’ RAVISH TIWARI NEW DELHI, APRIL 21 HAVING TAKEN credit for “victory” over the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, both the BJP and the Centre are scramblingtorespondpolitically to the fierce second wave that’s hit the country like a “toofan,” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it Tuesday. The wave has touched more homesthanever, the daily death count has hit a record high and hapless families struggle to find a bed or an oxygen cylinder. The fact that all this is one full year after the pandemic and after almost four months of calm has accentuated public anguish. For the party, too, it has hit home. Over the last few days, many BJP leaders — including MPs and party office-bearers in several states — told The Indian Express they have been inundated with calls for help from families, friends and their constituencies but they can do little. “These days, I worry whenever the phone rings. Only God knows what request will come, forahospitalbed,forRemdesivir, for oxygen or to arrange for a quick test — such calls are pouring in and it’s very difficult to meet these requests,” said a top BJP office-bearer in a state ruled by the party. He has a deep and extensive network in the state administration but he admits that the pandemic has exposed critical gaps ininfrastructurethatcan’tbejust “politically addressed.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 In BJP stronghold, reversal of roles: TMC calls for end to ‘reign of terror’ DIPANKAR GHOSE BARRACKPORE, APRIL 21 THERE ARE BJP posters everywhere in Barrackpore, the party's stronghold since 2019. The posters display the faces of the candidate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Some have BJP president J P Nadda or state party president Dilip Ghosh. But visible across each poster is the photographof ArjunSingh,aformer TMC MLA who joined the BJP in 2019 and defeated then TMC candidateDineshTrivediin AcrossWestBengal,thecomthe Lok Sabha elections. mon trope in the elections is the Singh vacated his MLA seat BJP campaigning on the plank of after winning the Lok Sabha the TMC’s alleged corruption elections. His son then won the and “violence” of its local leadAssembly constituency — ership.In2019,Singh,wholisted Bhatpara — on a BJP 24 cases against him in ticket. hispollaffidavit,includAs Rinku Singh, a ing criminal intimidarickshaw puller, puts it, tion and murder, “Yahan toh saaf hai. jumped over to the BJP. YahantohArjunSinghhi It led to the BJP leading raja hai. Poster mein bhi DECISION in five out of seven woh hi dikhenge (It is Assembly seats in the 2021 clear here. Arjun Singh area— allsevenseatsgo WEST is the king. The posters to polls on Thursday. BENGAL also feature him).” Therearemanyalle- BJP flags, posters in Bhatpara, a party stronghold. Dipankar Ghose gations of violence, both by and against Singh. In March, the BJP alleged that bombs were hurled at Singh’s residence, called ‘Mazdoor Bhawan’; last year, Singh was blamed for a TMC leader’s death in Kakinara. “Here, the moment Arjun Singh came, the BJP was strengthened. He knows everyone; yes, there are allegations, but he is popular too, especially amongthehuge Hindi-speaking migrant community in this industrial belt. With him, we will win six of the seven seats, althoughheisnotcontesting,”said a local BJP leader in Barrackpore. In Bhatpara then, the roles seem to be reversed, and it is the TMC that is talking of a “violence-freecampaign”.TheTMC’s candidate is Jitendra Shaw, who fought the 2016 elections as an Independent and came second, losing to Arjun Singh by close to 30,000 votes. Up against him is Pawan Singh, Arjun Singh’s son. ForthelocalTMCcadre,there are two main points of attack. “The first thing we tell people is thatbyvotingfor theTMC,Arjun Singh’s reign of terror must be brought to an end. The second is that while we have a large migrant population, there is a large Bengali populationtoo that does not like Arjun Singh. Even if the BJP took a lead in 2019, this time thereisnoPulwamaandBalakot, and we are confident of wresting back some seats,” said a TMC worker. But even outside Bhatpara, violence is a motif for the elections in Barrackpore, and not always against the BJP. In Barrackpore town, the BJP candidate is Dr Chandramani Shukla, fighting the TMC's Raj CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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