DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2021, LUCKNOW, LATE CITY, 12 PAGES `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 Delhi scrambles for beds, HC gets Ashoka Hotel as its own Covid facility ‘DID NOT ACT AGAINST ELECTION RALLIES’ Irresponsible... must perhaps face murder charge: Madras HC on EC MALLICA JOSHI & SOFI AHSAN NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 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 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, Will get counting stopped if no blueprint before May 2, says court the CEC said that it does not find any justification in doubling the railwaytrackfrom CastleRock in 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 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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 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 SHUBHAJIT ROY 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 GOVT’SVACCINE RESPONSIBILITY BY SUJATHA RAO PAGE 8 MANOJ C G NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 THE EXPRESS BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY INTERVIEW WITH SONIA GANDHI CONGRESS PRESIDENT PAGE 5 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 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 GOVT ASKS VACCINE MAKERS TO CUT PRICES PAGE 6 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- Abdicationof leadership shocking,culpable...ModiGovt mustrealisebattleagainstCovid,notopponents:Congchief INSIDE PAGE 4 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 KAUNAIN SHERIFF M Ready to help, we need political consensus to fight Covid: Sonia THE EDITORIAL PAGE AS CASES, DEATHS SURGE, KARNATAKA SHUTS DOWN FOR 14 DAYS PAGE 4 TARUN TEJPAL VERDICT TOMORROW 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. New norms: Treat all those with symptoms, mask up at home 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 thefearof 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 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 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 negative RT-PCR tests or 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 3 yrs after shutdown, TN to reopen Sterlite plant for oxygen ARUN JANARDHANAN CHENNAI, APRIL 26 MOVING TO ease the oxygen shortage that has hit efforts to tackle the Covid crisis, an allparty meeting convened by Chief Minister E K Palaniswami inTamilNaduMondayreacheda consensus to reopen the controversial Sterlite copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi on a “temporary basis” for four months. Theagreementcomesnearly three years after the state government shut down the plant, which is owned by Vedanta Ltd, followingthedeathsinpolicefiring of 13 people who were part of heated protests over environmental concerns related to its operations. The all-party meeting was held in Chennai after a public hearing called by the Thoothukudi district administration Friday failed to convince local residents about the “emergency requirement” to reopen the plant to produce medical oxygen. According to Vedanta, the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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 registered as hardly a blip 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,theCentre hadalready 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 Chhatarpur centre opens, but only for those already registered ASHNA BUTANI & ABHINAV SAHA NEW DELHI, APRIL 26 AS THE Covid care facility at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas complex opened on Monday, families of patients who have not been able to get beds elsewhere for days flocked to the facility in South Delhi’sChhatarpur — only to find that walk-in patients would not be admitted. Families were told to register bysendingaWhatsAppmessage to a district number, and informedthattheywouldgetacall when their turn comes. Among those who reached the facility was autorickshaw driver Pramod Kumar, who had hoped to get his brother-in-law Kamal Kishor (50) admitted. PramodhasbeenferryingKamal aroundthecityforthe pastthree days, looking for a bed. After waiting for several hours at the complex, the two men decided to go back home. “There is no big government hospital that we have not tried. This was our last hope. We have tried private hospitals as well, even though we cannot afford treatment there. If needed, we will sell whatever we havesowe can get him admitted. But we need to get a bed somewhere,” Pramod said. Lok Nayak, GTB, Ram ManoharLohiaandRajivGandhi were among some of the hospitals that he had tried since his brother-in-law fell sick with Covid-19, Pramod said. Kamalreturnedapositivereport for coronavirusinfection on Sunday evening. His oxygen levels were 74-75 on Monday, and he was breathing with immense difficulty. Pramod said they had tried an ambulance initially, but decidedtotravelbyautosinceeven ambulances don’t have oxygen these days. “Jijaji likes sitting in Patients in ambulances wait for admission outside the Covid centre in Chhatarpur, Delhi, Monday. Abhinav Saha my auto because he gets fresh air,” he said. They had managed to get an oxygen cylinder for Rs 4,000, much more than the normalpriceof Rs500,Pramodsaid. The sprawling Chhatarpur centremeasures1,700feetby700 feet, and has 500 oxygen beds. It is manned by the Indo Tibetan Border Police. The first patient was admitted to the facility at 10.30amonMonday;byevening, 110 patients had been admitted. Onlypatientsreferredbydistrict surveillance officers (DSO) are being taken in. Patients can also call the helpline numbers 011-26655547-49, 01126655949, and 011-26655969, from where their details will be sent to the DSOs. Patients have to provide their name, age, address,contactnumber,SpO2and pulse readings, co-morbidities, and symptoms. An ITBP spokesperson said, “Patients are being referred by DSOs. Once they have been referred, it hardly takes any time. They reach the reception, from where they are taken to the ward.”Askedaboutpatientswho may be serious butare not registered, the spokesperson said the admission process was controlledbythedistrictauthorities. As the day progressed, the lines grew longer, and families waited without food or water. Many were unaware that they had to register, and thoughtthey would be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Virender from Pandav Nagar tried to get his wife admitted. The 45-year-old patient, whose blood oxygen level was low, waited in an ambulance. “There is a lot of confusion. Some are telling us to call this number, some others are saying send a message... Our turn never came,” Virender said. After spending four hours at the centre, the family left to try their luck at Sardar Vallabh Bhai CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Lucknow
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