DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 PMC TO FILE AFFIDAVIT TO PRESENT CURRENT COVID-19 SITUATION IN HIGH COURT PAGE 3 GUJARATSEEKS MOREOXYGEN THE GUJARAT government informed the Supreme Court through an affidavit on Friday that it has written to the Centre asking for more oxygen. Allocation has been static at 975 MT, while demand is expected to rise to 1,600 MT by May 15, Gujarat said. REPORT PAGE7 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, MAY 7 OVERRULING PLEAS by the Centre,theSupremeCourtFriday declined to interfere with a Karnataka High Court direction asking the Central Government to increase daily allocation of LiquidMedicalOxygen(LMO)for the state, which has emerged as thecountry’snewCovidhotspot, from 962 metric tonnes (MT) to 1,200MTforashortperiodtotide over an acute shortage. In its plea, the Centre said that if every High Court were to pass similar orders without regardtothestocksavailable,itwill lead to chaos in LMO supply. The Bench said that while it is looking at the “larger issue”, it will not “leave the people of the state in the lurch”. With a daily caseload of over 45,000 in the state, a Bench of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A 100-bed Covid care centre at RMD College in Warje Malwadi was inaugurated virtually by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday. Ashish Kale Over 45,000 cases daily, Karnataka chooses ‘last resort’: total lockdown EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE BENGALURU, MAY 7 WITH KARNATAKA clocking over 45,000 Covid cases daily in the past week, the BJP government has moved to impose a total lockdown in the state — the “last resort” prescribed by Prime Don’t want to be coercive but we mean business: top court to SG EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Minister Narendra Modi to tackle the surge in his address to the nation two weeks ago. OnFridayevening,Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced a full lockdown in the state from May 10 to May 24 tobreakthechainof Covidtransmission in the state. STATING THAT it didn’t want to be “coercive” but that it “means business”,theSupremeCourton Friday asked the Centre to ensure that 700 Metric Tonnes of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) is CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Active caseload thrice last year’s peak, a lone doctor struggles to cope with flood of patients Primary Health Centre is shut, CHC not declared Covid centre yet, both wait for stocks of vaccines DIPANKAR GHOSE BARGAON (SAHARANPUR), MAY 7 Thought of deferring polls but decided against it: dissenting EC Rajiv Kumar RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI, MAY 7 THEELECTIONCommission(EC) had considered deferring a few phases of the recently held Assembly polls given the rising number of Covid cases but decidedagainstitsincetheimposition of President’s Rule could haveproventobe“damaging”for the poll body. The dissenting election commissioner, Rajiv Kumar,issaidtohavewrittenthis in his affidavit that was rejected bytheCommission,andnot filed with the Madras High Court. Kumar wrote that such a move would have caused “massivehueandcryandpopulardiscontentment” and exposed the Commissiontotheaccusationof favouringonepartyoveranother. The EC, he said, had also looked into the option of merging the remaining three phases THE PATIENT is weak and gaspingforbreath,DrVKSharmacan barely hear him speak. But he puts his hand on the patient’s chest, checks the makeshift saline drip on a rickety pole, and utters the same words of reassurance that he says he has most often used throughout his 45year practice. “Bas sardi-khansi hai, thik ho jaoge (It’s just a cold and cough, you will be fine).” ButDrSharma knowsit’sdifferent this time. BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY SAHARANPUR COVID IN THE COUNTRYSIDE UTTAR PRADESH AN EXPRESS SERIES PART-2 The words are more placebo than truth. “Should I tell them they could die?” he says. Over the past few weeks, Sharma’s one-room cliniconthe roadside at Bargaon village in Lucknow ACTIVE CASES 1,059 5,893 APRIL16 MAY6 Saharanpur on Uttar Pradesh’s north-westerntiphasbeenhandling a deluge of patients with Covid symptoms. It’s a snapshot of the grim CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PUNE, MAY 7 PAGE 7 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E Rising in ● the South AS MANY as 20 of the 30 districts showing a “steep upward trend week-onweek” in daily new cases were in southern India, government data show — 10 in Kerala, seven in Andhra Pradesh, and three in Karnataka. Sept16, May5, 2020 2021 Sept16, May5, 2020 2021 15.87% 2,30,168 11.48% 36,523 20.07% 83,198 16.86% DEATHS 9,555 18.58% ■ Shareoftotal 7,15,662 18.57% ■ India ACTIVE CASES 35,66,398 ■ BRGF TOTAL CASES Sept16, May5, 2020 2021 In second wave, Covid hits rural India: cases and deaths quadruple AMITABH SINHA PUNE, MAY 7 ADISCONCERTINGfeatureof the second wave of Covid-19 is the surge in cases in rural India. Compared with the first peak in Septemberlastyear,thenumber of cases in India’s hinterland or backward regions has quadrupled, and so has the number of the dead. The districts covered by the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) — 243 of the 272 for which data are available — had more than 39.16 lakh people infected with the disease as on May 5. This is more than four times the 9.5 lakh infections at the peak of the first wave on September 16, 2020. The burden of active cases in these districts is also much higherinthesecondwave,which isyettopeak.Theactivecaseload right now is more than 4.2 times the peak active caseload in the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Serum unable to give Covishield doses till May 26, state also needs urgent supply of Covaxin: Tope ANURADHA MASCARENHAS PUNE, MAY 7 SERUM INSTITUTE of India chief Adar Poonawalla has told the Maharashtra government that the vaccine manufacturer will not be able to supply Covishield doses to the state till May 26, HealthMinisterRajeshTopesaid on Friday. Addressing the media, Tope said, “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had a telephonic conversationwiththeSerumInstitute chief in London on the issue, and he was informed that they could not give the doses till May 26.” Topesaid,“Thereshouldbeno doubt that Covid vaccination is ourtopmostpriorityandnostone has been left unturned to purchase them directly from the A boy sells masks on Bajirao Road in Pune. Ashish Kale manufacturers.” Hesaidthestatewasreadyto purchasethemaximumnumber of doses,as“wehavethecapability of vaccinating across 5,000 to 7,000 centres and at least 8 lakh to 10 lakh doses daily”. Till May 6, the state has administered the vaccine to 1.73 lakh beneficiaries. Topealsoflaggedtheneedfor urgent supply of Covaxin doses for beneficiaries waiting for second doses of the vaccine. “We have urged the Centre time and againtoreleasedosesof Covaxin, as 4 lakh to 5 lakh beneficiaries are waiting for their second jabs across the state,” the minister said. “The state has written several letters to the Centre for Covaxin doses. However, if supply does not come on time, we have no other option but to divert the doses purchased by the state for the age group 18-44 years, as this group of beneficiaries needs the second shot of Covaxin,” Tope said. Apart from Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India, the Maharashtra government is in also talks for purchasing the Sputnik vaccine. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Pimpri-Chinchwad cops face action as police commissioner, ACP in disguise stump them MANOJ MORE COMPOSER VANRAJ BHATIA, 93, DEAD TWENTY-FOUR states have reported a test positivity rate of more than 15 per cent for Covid19 over the last week, the government said on Friday. At least 30 districts had showed “a steep upward trend” in cases over the last two weeks. The data were a “matter of great concern”, the Health Ministry said. The country’s total active caseload was 36,45,164 on Friday. A record 4,14,188 cases had been reported over the previous 24 hours, along with 3,915 deaths, the government said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, MAY 7 DISTRICT SAHARANPUR Dr V K Sharma with a patient at his clinic in village Bargaon in Saharanpur on Thursday. Praveen Khanna SURGE IN 243 ‘BACKWARD GRANT’ DISTRICTS NEW DELHI, MAY 7 1,70,310 KAUNAIN SHERIFF M 2,10,77,410 THE CITY Rejects plea against HC order, ‘won’t leave people in the lurch’ 51,18,253 ` 122 per kilo 9,50,403 ` 100 per kilo SCbacksmoreO2 forK’taka,tells CentretoensureDelhigets700MT E X P L A I NE D ` 72 per kilo Over 15% positivity in 24 states, cases trending steeply up in 30 districts 39,16,838 HEARINGS ON OXYGEN CRISIS 10,09,976 SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2021, PUNE, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES A LITTLE past midnight on Wednesday,acouplewalkedinto the Pimpri Police Station with a complaint. Jamal Kamal Khan and his wife said they had called an emergency ambulance service for a neighbour, only to be askedtopayupRs5,000.Thepolicepersonnelondutydismissed them and asked them to lodge their complaint at the Sant Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissioner Krishna Prakash (left); in disguise (right). Tukaram Nagar police chowki, 3 kilometres away. On any other night, this inaction on the part of the police would have gone unnoticed, but Jamal Kamal Khan was no ordinary complainant. The bearded man wearing a yellow kurta and a skull cap was PimpriChinchwadPoliceCommissioner Krishna Prakash, no less — and his ‘wife’, Assistant Police CommissionerPrerna Katte.The two,indisguiseasaMuslimcouple,wereonasurprisevisitof po- lice stations in the Pimpri Chinchwad area, and now, the policemen at the Pimpri station were in trouble. "Instead of noting down the complaint, the Pimpri police asked 'the couple' to go to the police chowk in the dead of the night. This was not properbehaviour.Theywerenot sensitive towards the complainants," said Prakash. ThePimpristationstaff arein troubleonanothercount.During hislate-nightvisitindisguise,the police chief found as many as nine people, arrested on different charges, crammed in one lock-up. Prakash has taken note of theviolationof Covidprotocol. "Wehavesoughtanexplanation from the Pimpri police for putting so many people in one lock-up. This is a clear violation of social distancing norms and is not Covid-appropriate behaviour. Based on their explanation, wewilldecideonthedisciplinary action to be taken," Prakash told The Indian Express on Friday. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A graduate from MIT, former banker, TN’s finance minister wants Centre to give state its due PAGE 1 ANCHOR ARUNJANARDHANAN CHENNAI,MAY7 APOLITICALscionwithengineering and management degrees fromtopinstitutesathomeandin the US. A top banker who lived andmarriedabroad,andreturned to become a popular MLA. An ardent devotee of Goddess Meenakshiinapartythatswears by atheism. Palanivel Thiagarajan, or PTR, asheisbetterknown,isastudyin contrasts.However,foronceinhis long and eventful career, the 55- year-old’slifehastakenananticipatedturn.NewTamilNaduChief MinisterMKStalinhaspickedthis highly qualified MLA — with an engineering degree from NIT Trichy, higher studies in the State University of New York, and an MBA in Finance from the Sloan School of Management at MIT — to be his Finance Minister. It’s a fitting progression for PTR, whose grandfather P T Rajan was the chief minister of Madras Presidency in the 1930s, and whose father P T R Palanivel Rajan served as a DMK minister. He takes over as Finance Minister after winning for the second time from Madurai Central, by 34,176 votes. In these past five years, PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan with wife Margaret and sons. Express earned his stripes as a leader. Always available for his constituents, he would put out a report card of his work every six months.“If heisgiventimetodeliver, he will deliver. Stalin knows that,” says a senior DMK leader also sworn in as minister. Having left India in 1987 for theUS,PTRreturnedonly20years later,finishinghisstudies,joining work there, and marrying an American classmate. Four years later, in 2011, PTR moved to Singapore for a high-profile banker'sjob.Whenhereturnedin 2015, he said it was for good. A year later, he won the Assembly elections from Madurai Central. Now settled in Chennai with his wife Margaret Rajan, schoolgoing sons Palani Thiaga Rajan and Vel Thiaga Rajan, and five dogs,PTRtoldTheIndianExpress after the swearing-in that they werehislife.However,hesaid,he always wanted to work for the people. One of the top issues on his agenda would be settling Tamil Nadu'sGSTdueswiththeCentre. PTR, who has been severely critical of the Modi government's financial policies, said, “Just like a manisasgoodashisword,agovernment must keep its commitmentsandobligations.It(theGST dues) is a black and white, legal commitment of the Indian government to the states. There is nothing to be discussed." PTR also alleged the undermining of states under the Modi government. “Tamil Nadu is a well-to-dostate.Youcannotsitin Delhiandmakedecisionsforpeople...Devolutionisthebasisofgovernance, not just from the Centre to the state but from the state to local bodies aswell.Infact,oneof thethingsweadmiremostabout Kerala is the extent of devolution they have implemented." With Tamil Nadu differing over other Central policies as well, PTR added, “It is clear that we cannot resolve problems in our country with a single solution due to the scale of its diversityandcomplexity.Whyshould Delhi tell us when we open our barber shops (during the lockdown)?... We have a structural problem, GST is only the financial aspect of it." A drain on Tamil Nadu's resourcesisitsfreebieculture,with partiesshoweringsopsbeforethe elections.IntherecentAssembly elections, the DMK promised increasingmaternityleavefromsix months to a year, free passes for women in city buses, and Rs 4,000cashassistanceforallration cardholders(thelattertwowere implemented Friday). PTR argued, “I don’t start with the assumption that all freebies are bad. I would even consider doublingupordeliveringcertain freebies on a daily basis... Should Inotgivefreefoodtoschoolchildren? Should I not give laptops to students?" Hehimselfmadethreepromises to his electorate, PTR said -"an integrated drinking water scheme,ensuringsupplytoevery individual; an integrated sewage system; and the renovation of Madurai Meenakshi temple". CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Pune
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