DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 Citing ecosystem, SC panel red-flags Goa rail project; for tweaks in power, road plans MAYURA JANWALKAR PANAJI, APRIL 26 RAISING SERIOUS environmental concerns, the Supreme Court's Central Empowerment Committee (CEC) has redflaggedakeyrailexpansionpush in Goa and recommended crucial changes to two other proposed projects -- a highway and a power transmission line -- in the state. These projects had been clearedbytheCentrelastyeardespiteconcernsbeingraisedatvarious levels since they would cut through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary (BMWS) and theMollemNationalPark(MNP) in South Goa. In its report dated April 23, the CEC said that it does not find any justification in doubling the railwaytrackfrom CastleRockin Karnataka to Kulem in Goa as it “will destroy the fragile eco-system of the Western Ghats which is an internationally recognised Biodiversity hotspot and also one of the most important wildlife corridor of the country”. Based on an application filed by Goa Foundation, the CEC also recommended that the alignment of the Goa-Tanmar Transmission Project for laying of electric lines for additional 400 KV feed to Goa be redrawn and modified along the existing 220 KV line. This will “help in saving the precious forest cover and wildlife in the ecologically fragile and biodiversity rich Irresponsible... must perhaps face murder charge: Madras HC on EC Will get counting stopped if no blueprint before May 2, says court EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE CHENNAI, APRIL 26 The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi tweeted images of buildings in UAE lit up in colours of the Tricolour in solidarity with India as the country battles a second wave of Covid-19. PTI CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Delhi scrambles for beds, HC gets Ashoka Hotel as its own Covid facility MALLICA JOSHI & SOFI AHSAN CALL AFTER CRITICISM OVER SILENCE Biden pledges support to PM on vaccine inputs, key supplies Beijing offers to help, Chinese envoy says will facilitate medical supplies NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 FOLLOWING A request from the Delhi High Court, the Delhi government has ordered Ashoka Hotel, a five-star facility, to set aside 100 rooms for a Covid Health Centre for judges and judicial officers of the court and their families. The facility will be linked to Primus Hospital in Chanakyapuri. An order to this effect was passed by the Chanakyapuri Sub-DivisionalMagistrate,Geeta Grover, on Sunday. It comes when families of Covid patients across the national capital are scrambling to get beds and access to hospital care. The High Court itself has ‘DID NOT ACT AGAINST ELECTION RALLIES’ SHUBHAJIT ROY SDM order says hotel facility for ‘Justices, other judicial officers, and their families’ made several observations critical of the Centre and the Delhi government on this issue while hearing pleas on the Covid crisis. On April 22, when dealing with theissueof hospitalbeds,Justice Vipin Sanghi had observed: “It is a four-fold increase (in cases). CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden spoke toPrimeMinisterNarendraModi Monday and pledged America’s “steadfastsupportforthepeople of India” hit by the unprecedented surge in Covid cases that has hit a record high in both case count and daily deaths. The United States will provide a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics, a White House statement said about the call. "India was there for us, we will be there for them," Biden tweeted later. This comes after criticism of Washington over its delay in responding and its earlier cold shoulder to a request for lifting the freeze on export of raw materials linked to vaccine manufacturing. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 GOVT ASKS VACCINE MAKERS TO CUT PRICES PAGE 7 New norms: Treat all those with symptoms, mask up at home KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 UNDERLINING THAT the virus strain in the second surge is highly infectious, the head of India’s Covid-19 task force Monday recommended that the time has come to wear masks in “home settings” to break the chain of transmission. Significantly, another mem- Ready to help, we need political consensus to fight Covid: Sonia Abdicationof leadership shocking,culpable...Modi Govt mustrealisebattleagainstCovid,notopponents:Congchief ` 98 per kilo MANOJ C G ` 119 per kilo ` 60 per Dozen NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 THE EXPRESS INTERVIEW INSIDE WITH SONIA GANDHI CONGRESS PRESIDENT PAGE 6 KARNATAKA SHUTS DOWN FOR 14 DAYS PAGE 6 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Covid fear and anxiety spread, cash back in favour with public SANDEEP SINGH & GEORGE MATHEW NEW DELHI, MUMBAI, APRIL 26 AS THE second surge began and intensified over the last two months, the reliance of the public on cash increased steadily. During the fortnight ended April 9, currency with the public jumped by Rs 30,191 crore to hit a new high of Rs 27,87,941 crore. In the six-week period between PAGE 1 ANCHOR CONGRESS president Sonia Gandhi underlined Monday the need for the political leadership to rise above “our differences” and come together to fight the Covid “calamity” as a nation. In an exclusive interview to The Indian Express, Gandhi said that the Congress was ready to extend all cooperation to the Governmentevenasshesaidthe “abdicationof leadership”bythe Centre in this public health emergency is “shocking” and “culpable.” And there was a sense people have been “abandoned” by an “all-round collapse” of governance. “We believe that fighting Covidisnota‘YouversusUs’battle but is an ‘Us versus Corona’ battle. This battle is, therefore, beyond politicalalignments. We have to fight this battle together February 27 and April 9, currency with the public rose by Rs 52,928 crore, show RBI data. Experts said the increase in currencywiththepublicisonaccount of the fearof impositionof lockdowns by state or central governments. Last year, after the government announced a stringent lockdown in March, currency with the public had surged. Between March and June 2020, currencywith thepublic shot up by Rs 3.07 lakh from Rs 22.55 lakh crore in the fortnight ended February 28, 2020 to Rs 25.62 lakh crore in the fortnight ended June 19, 2020. On a year-on-year basis, currencywiththepublicjumpedby 16.7 per cent, or Rs 3,98,382 crore, as against a rise of 14.6 per cent, or Rs 3,03,955 crore, in the same period of last year, according to the RBI data. While the currency with the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 as a nation,” she said. “The Modi government must realise that the battle is against Covid, it is notagainsttheCongressorother political opponents.” "A political consensus is essential. We must bring together all stakeholders to fight a calamity like the one we are facing.Unfortunately,theModigovernmenthasrepeatedlydemonstratedthatitpreferscoercionto consensus…I truly believe that CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E E X P L A I NE D ` 70 per kilo Signof insecurity, ● uncertainty CASH HOLDING is expected to rise further because of the recent spike in Covid cases as people prefer cash in uncertain times. The fear of lockdowns has forced people to withdraw money from banks, and to keep cash with them — both for medical exigencies and basic needs in uncertain times. COMING DOWN heavily on the Election Commission for “not stopping political parties" from violating Covid protocols during their campaign rallies for Assemblypollsinfourstatesand an Union Territory over the last month, the Madras High Court said Monday that murder charges should probably be imposedonthepanelforbeing“the only institution responsible for the situation that we are in today”. The scathing observations camefourdaysaftertheCalcutta High Court had censured the EC for not doing enough to ensure that political parties were following appropriate Covid proto- ber of the Covid-19 task force and Director of AIIMS Randeep Guleria said that given the unprecedented surge, it is imperative to start Covid-19 treatment of those who show “classic Covid-19 symptoms” despite negativeRT-PCR testsor of those whose results are awaited. These two key recommendations came as India reported a record 3,52,991 new cases CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PHONE TAPPING Mumbai Police summons Rashmi Shukla tomorrow MOHAMED THAVER MUMBAI, APRIL 26 MUMBAI POLICE on Monday issued summons to senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla at her Hyderabad residence, seeking her presence before the cyber police station on April 28. Shukla has been summoned in connection with a case registeredattheBKCcyberpolicestation under the Officials Secrets Actagainstunknownpersonsfor alleged illegal tapping of phones and leaking of findings of official secret documents. The case was registered on a complaint filed by the State Intelligence Department last month. A 1988-batch officer and one of the seniormost officers in the state, Shukla is currently ADG Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)andpostedatHyderabad. She went on central deputation in February. Sources said that Shukla has beenaskedtopresentherself before ACP N K Jadhav 11 am Wednesday. An official said they believe she has information that would help them investigate the CONTINUEDONPAGE2 DECISION 2021 WEST BENGAL cols amid the surging second wave. “You have been singularly lacking any kind of exercise of authority. You have not taken measures against political parties holding rallies despite every order of this court saying ‘maintain Covid protocol, maintain Covid protocol’,” the Madras High Court observed. Remarkingthatthepanelhas been “the most irresponsible over the last few months in not stopping political parties from wanton abuse of the Covid-19 protocol",abenchof Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said: “You should be put up on murder charges probably.” It asked whether the EC, which is a Constitutional body, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee arrives at a polling booth to cast her vote at Bhawanipore in south Kolkata, on Monday. Partha Paul I I PHASE 7 SEATS: 34 of 294 TURNOUT: 75.06 % As Covid curve and deaths surged, hardly a blip on EC radar TMC, Cong asked for curbs which came April 22 an hour after PM called off rallies RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 THE MADRAS High Court's strong words for the Election Commission (EC) on Monday may have a basis. A scrutiny of the EC’s announcements starting from February 26, when it declared the schedule for five Assembly elections,toApril22,whenitput stringent curbs on campaigning in West Bengal, shows that the fierce second Covid surge registeredas hardlyablip onits radar. Ironically, its ban on roadshows, vehicle rallies, and public meetings of over 500 people in West Bengal came as late as April 22 and an hour after Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his four rallies scheduled there the next day. This, even though the Trinamool Congress and the Congresshadfiledpetitionswith the EC urging it to end campaigning and reschedule the remaining election dates in West Bengal in the wake of the Covid surge. Significantly, by February 26, when the poll schedule was announced,theCentrehadalready warned at least two poll-bound states (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) about a spike in their daily new cases. But the EC merely reiterated the precautions it had put in place for the Bihar Assembly elections when the curve was steadily falling. A day later, West Bengal was also added to the list of states flagged by the Centre as reportinganincreasingnumberof new cases. By March 31, when the last two phases (Phase 7 and 8) of West Bengal elections were notified, cases there were steadily climbing, 982 new infections compared to just about 320 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 No stock, Maharashtra set to postpone drive to vaccinate 18-44 age group TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA MUMBAI, APRIL 26 MAHARASHTRA IS unlikely to rolloutitsanti-Covidvaccination drive for the 18 to 44 year age group from May 1 due to constraints of vaccine availability, seniorstategovernmentofficials said on Monday. Under the new guidelines from the Centre, officials said Maharashtra has to make its own procurement arrangements and ensure enough stock for vaccinating adults till 44 years of age – the largest demo- graphic group in the state. Five other states, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh,Jharkhand,Punjab and Kerala, had on Sunday said that they would postpone this next phase of the vaccination for the same reason. Maharashtra has written to Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech to inquire about theirstockavailabilitybuthasreceived no official response. “Informally though, we are in touchwithallthreemanufacturers(includingDrRedddy’sLabs). But the existing stock seems to have been booked by the Union government. Manufacturers have an upper hand in deciding DIP IN FRESH CASES IN MUMBAI THIRD DAY IN A ROW Long queue for vaccination outside Thane District Government Hospital. Deepak Joshi For the third day in a row, Mumbai has shown a dip in freshCovid-19cases,withits positivity rate on a slow but steadydeclinefromover17.5 per cent until a fortnight ago to 13.6 per cent now. On Monday, the city recorded 3,876 cases, down from 5,542 on Sunday and 5,888 on Saturday. PAGE3 how much stock to supply to which state,” a state official said. “Our communication channel with SII is open. We are in constant dialogue but we still don’t know how much stock, if at all, it can supply within the next few days,” an official from the state Directorate of Health services said. Dr Reddy’s Labs has not announced its rates, therefore, Maharashtra has not written to it yet. The state health department is also working on a global tendertoprocurevaccines,while it awaits a final approval for this from the state government. The state will open registra- tions for the 18 to 44 age group ontheCoWINappfromApril28, butslotsmaynotopenfromMay 1. N Ramaswamy, Director of state National Health Mission, said, “Vaccine availability is a problem.Oncewegetsupply,we will start immunisation for all those above 18 years.” However, vaccination will continue for those above 45 years of age uninterrupted, officials said. OnMonday,Maharashtrabecame the first state to administer over 5 lakh vaccinations in a day, a jump from its usual over 3 lakhimmunisationsperday,and CONTINUEDONPAGE2
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.