DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA RECORD 3,14,835 NEW CASES AND 2,104 DEATHS IN LAST 24 HOURS Delhi, UP, Gujarat, Haryana oxygen demand outstrips supply; PM holds crisis meeting HomeMinistrywarnsstatesagainsthoardingoxygenorblockingitssupplychains,saysmustfollowdistributionplan Uttar Pradesh Gujarat Haryana Karnataka Rajasthan Punjab Kerala -220 -47 -25 -18 0 0 10 10 Chhattisgarh TamilNadu 12 1661 543 445 220 200 227 215 99 89 136 126 205 205 300 300 162 180 Delhi 1500 ■ Shortfall/Surplus(MT) 975 753 800 1000 ■ Demand(MT)April20onwards ■ Allocation(MT)April20onwards *MT=Metric Tonnes Madhya Pradesh 98 20 Maharashtra 161 April, Nov last year: Officials, House SC takes up Covid panel flagged oxygen need, shortage cases: HC hearings Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with P Vaidyanathan Iyer, Executive Editor (National Affairs), The Indian Express, Joseph Leahy, Asia News Editor, Financial Times. Express UNION FINANCE Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday said the second wave of the Covid-19pandemicwillnotaffect theinstitutionalreforms, including the disinvestment plans outlined in the Budget, although the focusrightnowwastotakesteps towardsmeetingthe“immediate requirement of saving lives”. Speaking at the first of a se- CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 OXYGEN DEMAND AND ALLOCATION IN 12 SURGE STATES 480 WITH FOUR of the states worst hit by Covid battling a critical shortfall between demand and supply of oxygen in their hospitals, Prime Minister Narendra Moditoldofficialsduringahighlevel meeting Thursday to ramp up production and the Union HomeMinistryorderedallstates tostrictlyabidebyitsdistribution plan amid reports of some seizing supplies meant for others. As the country reported a record 3,14,835 new cases — the highest single-day figure for any country since the pandemic began — and 2,104 deaths in the last24hours,figuresobtainedby The Indian Express show that Delhi, UP, Gujarat and Haryana face severe shortfalls (see chart) 700 NEW DELHI, APRIL 22 NEW DELHI, APRIL 22 `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 HARIKISHAN SHARMA, DEEPTIMAN TIWARY & KAUNAIN SHERIFF M ENS ECONOMIC BUREAU REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES Second wave will not affect big reform push, says Sitharaman ● CALLS FOR ‘NATIONAL PLAN’ ‘creating confusion’ EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE riesof online,agenda-settingdebates organised by The Indian Express and Financial Times, the Finance Minister said the situationin2020(whenanationwide lockdown was announced) and thesituationnowareverydifferent. “Micro containment zones would be the way forward (now),” she said. “Even that said, there are numbersandthesurgeincertain pocketsthatissosignificant—as in Delhi — we have gone in for a NEW DELHI, APRIL 22 THE SUPREME Court Thursday took suo motu cognizance of some of the key issues related to Covid-19management,including the supply of oxygen and essentialdrugsanddeclarationoflockdowns. Noting that the matter was being heard in several high courts,"creatingsomeconfusion" and "diversion of resources", a BenchledbyChiefJusticeofIndia S A Bobde said there is “almost a national emergency” and asked the Centre to submit a “national plan” to deal with it. “We see that six High Courts are taking action. We appreciate CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY that. But this is creating some confusion and diversion... We want to point out four issues -supply of oxygen, supply of essential drugs, method and mannerof vaccination,declarationof lockdown. We will issue notice for a national plan on these issues," the three-judge Bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said, while adding that some high courts might prioritise one set of people and another, a different group. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 COUNTRY BEING RUN BY GOD: DELHI HC PAGE 7 SC move follows censure of Centre, it did same with migrants last year A Covid-19 patient waits to get admission at the LNJP Hospital in New Delhi on Thursday. Tashi Tobgyal 9 and counting: UAE, Singapore shut out fliers from India PRANAV MUKUL NEW DELHI, APRIL 22 AT LEAST nine jurisdictions — the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, France, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong KongandOman—haveimposed freshrestrictionsontraveltoand from India on account of the surge in Covid-19 cases. Experts watching the sector closely said India currently poses the“biggestrisk”ofexportingnew variants of the coronavirus to countries around the world, and that they expected more borders to be closed for travel from India. As of Thursday morning, India had 22,91,428 active cases of coronavirus infection, an increase of 1,33,890 cases over the previous day, according to government figures. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR APURVA VISHWANATH EmpoweredGroupsaidshortagelikely,Housepanelsaidneedoxygeninventory EXPLAINED HARIKISHAN SHARMA NEW DELHI, APRIL 22 EXPERT EXPLAINS THE PATH OUT OF THE CRISIS PAGE 11 ALMOST DROWNED by the alarmbellsringingacrossthenation over the critical shortage of oxygeninthesecondCovidwave is the fact that the warning signs came clear and early: in April one full year ago and then again in November. The first was just a week afterthenationallockdownbegan, on April 1, 2020, by one of the 11 Empowered Groups of Officers, set up by the Centre for planning and implementing an effective Covid response. This was the Empowered Group-VI(EG-VI)taskedtocoordinate with the “Private Sector, NGOs & International Organizations for response related activities." In its second meeting,heldonApril1lastyear, it red-flagged oxygen shortage. The minutes of the meeting STORM AFTERTHE CALM TACKLING THE SECOND COVID WAVE AN EXPRESS SERIES PART FOUR said: “In the coming days India could face a shortage of oxygen supplies. To address this, CII will coordinate with Indian Gas Associationandmitigatethelack of oxygen supply.” Thismeeting,headedbyNITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, was attended by India's Principal Scientific Adviser K. Vijay Raghavan; Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade; NDMA member Kamal Kishore; and over half a dozen officials from various wings of the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, APRIL 22 NEARLY A week after at least six High Courtsbeganhearingcases related to inadequacies in the officialdom’s response to the surging Covid pandemic and censured the Centre and state governments, the Supreme Court, on its own, suggested it would transfer these cases to itself to avoid what it called “confusion and diversion of resources.” The High Courts have issued a slew of orders and made criti- cal observations on the way the crisis is being managed by governments. OnApril16,theNagpurbench of the Bombay High Court took cognizance of lack of availability of Remdesivir in the district. It revived a public interest litigation it had taken up on its own motion in 2020 on the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. On April 20, the Delhi High Court set up a special bench that began hearing cases related to Covid-19 in the national capital, especially on the shortage in CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Ambani security scare: NIA probes ‘role’ 24 COVID PATIENTS DIE IN HOSPITAL of businessman in sourcing gelatin sticks Nashik Police lodges FIR, Bombay HC says ‘can’t MOHAMED THAVER MUMBAI, APRIL 22 THE NIA, which is investigating the Sachin Waze case, is probing theroleof abusinessmaninconnection withprocuring the gelatin sticks that were found in a Scorpio vehicle outside the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani on February 25. The businessman is known to some of the suspects questioned in the case. He is also part of a government project that requires usage of gelatin sticks for rock blasting, sources in the agency said. “We have received information about a person known to some of the suspects in the case. As per the information, he had easy access to gelatin sticks, as part of a government project being undertaken by him in part- nership with another person. We are checking if he has any role to play in procuring the gelatin sticks used in this particular case,” an official said. The official added that the businessmanisknowntoseveral policemen, including some who aresuspectsinthe case andhave been questioned by the NIA. Sources said the NIA will check withthecompanyformedbythe CONTINUEDONPAGE2 understand how it happened in civilised society’ EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, APRIL 22 THE NASHIK Police on Thursday registered an FIR under Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code against unnamed individuals in the Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital mishap, in which 24 Covid-19 Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik. File patients died on Wednesday after oxygensupply wasdisrupted duetoaleakageinthemainstorage tank. The Bombay High Court on Thursday said that the mishap was a matter of concern as such incidents could not have happened in a civilised society. TheFIRstatedthatthedeaths occurredduetoaleakinthetank thatwassupplyingoxygentothe patients. The leak occurred due to the callousness and carelessness of the unnamed accused, it added. The13kilolitreliquidoxygen tank that was installed at the Nashik hospital had been in use only for the last 21 days before a malfunction in one of its valves CONTINUEDONPAGE2 Maharashtra to procure own vaccine stock for 18-45 age group TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA MUMBAI, APRIL 22 THE STATE government has begun internal discussions about vaccine procurement from domestic manufacturers to immunise the 18-45 years age group. Officials from the health department said the Centre has informed the state government thatitwouldcontinuetoprovide vaccine stock for the 45-plus age group, but the state would have todoitsownprocurementtoimmunise people under 45 years. "COVID-19 vaccination will continue to be free for all eligible populationgroups(healthworkers, front line workers and those aged above 45) in Covid Vaccination Centres receiving vaccine dosesfromGovernment of India," the Centre informed the state. A total of 8.5 crore people in thestateareagedabove18years, of them about 5 crore are in the 18-45 years age group. “It is this pool for which we will need to procure vaccine. We estimate about 50 per cent people would prefer to visit government centres for vaccination, and the rest may opt for private centres or no jab at all. Based on that local purchases will be made,” a senior official from the health department said, adding that discussions are in preliminary stages as no official guidelines have come from the Centre yet. So far only Serum Institute of India has disclosed its rates — Rs 400 for government hospitals and Rs 600 for private hospitals. Health officials said they estimate an expenditure of aboutRs 2,000 crore for procurement of anytwo-dosevaccine.Anofficial communication with SII over procurement is yet to begin. “Most likely the Maharashtra government will provide free A crowded vaccination centre at BKC in Mumbai on Tuesday. Pradip Das vaccination in government hospitals,” another official said. Municipal corporations are waiting for directions from the state on whether they need to purchase vaccines. BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said, “We can only plan when we have some information. Currently we hardly get stock that lasts three days. May 1 and the next phase of vaccination is still far, our current problem is to provide vaccine supply to all centres.” Most private centres were shut on Thursday with limited vaccine stock. According to the commissioner, Mumbai has 8,000dosesinstorageinF-North ward office and another 70,000 distributed to all vaccination centres. Chahal said BMC can issue a global tender to choose from multiple vendors if there is clarityon importand necessarypermissions required for foreign vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna. “Now there is no clarityonanyof that.Wehavenooption but to wait for Government of India guidelines,” he said, adding that if the state does the procurement, BMC will wait for the state to supply. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla in an interview to CNBC TV 18 said itwouldbeimpossible to handle ordersof smallmunicipalcorporations and hospitals and indicated an arrangement where states procure on behalf of hospitals. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has begun discussions on the possibility of placingcollectiveorderswithmanufacturers on behalf of corporate houses and private hospitals. Joy Chakraborty, COO in Hinduja hospital and chairman of CIIWestern Region, said, "We very muchwanttobepartof vaccination and are looking at logistics.” He said discussions have begun CONTINUEDONPAGE2
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