DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE Covid-19 patients at the Shehnai Banquet isolation centre in Delhi on Friday. Amit Mehra 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 torise to1,600 MT by May 15, Gujarat said. REPORTPAGE7 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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 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. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 DISTRICT SAHARANPUR 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 Dr V K Sharma with a patient at his clinic in village Bargaon in Saharanpur on Thursday. Praveen Khanna 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 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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 knows it’sdifferent this time. BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY 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 PUNE, MAY 7 PAGE 7 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 cops face action as police chief, ACP in disguise stump them MANOJ MORE COMPOSER VANRAJ BHATIA, 93, DEAD SAHARANPUR A LITTLE past midnight on Wednesday, a couple walked into the Pimpri Police Station with a complaint. Jamal Kamal Khan and his wife said they had called an emergencyambulance service for a neighbour, only to be asked to pay up Rs 5,000. The police personnel on duty dismissed them and asked them to lodgetheircomplaintattheSant 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 Pune Police Commissioner Krishna Prakash, no less — and his ‘wife’, Assistant Police Commissioner Prerna CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A graduate from MIT, former banker, Tamil Nadu’s finance minister wants Centre to give state its due PAGE 1 ANCHOR ARUN JANARDHANAN CHENNAI, MAY 7 A POLITICAL scion with engineering and management degrees from top institutes at home and in the US. A top banker who lived and married abroad, and returned to become a popular MLA. An ardent devotee of Goddess Meenakshi in a party that swears by atheism. PalanivelThiagarajan,orPTR, as he is better known, is a study in contrasts. However, for once in his long and eventful career, the 55-year-old’s life has taken an anticipated turn. New Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin has picked this highly qualified MLA — with an engineering degree from NIT Trichy, higher studies in the State University of New York, and an MBA in Financefromthe Sloan School of Management at MIT — to be his Finance Minister. It’s a fitting progression for PTR, whose grandfather P T Palanivel Thiagarajan with wife Margaret and sons. Express 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 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 he is given time to deliver, he will deliver. Stalin knows that,” says a senior DMK CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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 11.48% 15.87% 2,30,168 20.07% 83,198 16.86% DEATHS 36,523 18.58% ■ Shareoftotal 9,555 18.57% ■ India ACTIVE CASES 7,15,662 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 supplied to Delhi daily to meet the needs of Covid-19 patients. “We want 700 MT to be supplied to Delhi on a daily basis. Pleasedon’tforceustobeinasituation where we have to be firm,” a Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appeared for the Centre. “...And we mean business. It has to be supplied and we don’t want to be coercive,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding that while thecourtwillclarifythisinitsdetailed order, “you proceed and arrange the oxygen”. NEW DELHI, MAY 7 ■ BRGF TOTAL CASES 35,66,398 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 NEW DELHI, MAY 7 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. SURGE IN 243 ‘BACKWARD GRANT’ DISTRICTS 10,09,976 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, MAY 7 1,70,310 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE KAUNAIN SHERIFF M 39,16,838 Don’t want to be coercive but we mean business: top court tells SG 2,10,77,410 Rejects plea against HC order, ‘won’t leave people in the lurch’ 51,18,253 SC backs more O2 for Karnataka, tells Centre to ensure Delhi gets 700 MT Over 15% positivity in 24 states, cases trending steeply up in 30 districts E X P L A I NE D HEARINGS ON OXYGEN CRISIS GUJARATSEEKS MOREOXYGEN `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 9,50,403 SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES 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 Oxygen racket: More concentrators seized from Khan Mkt eateries JIGNASA SINHA NEW DELHI, MAY 7 A DAY after it seized 419 oxygen concentrators,32of thosefroma restaurantinSouthDelhi’sLodhi Colony, and arrested four men for allegedly being part of a racket to sell the machines at inflated rates, the net has widened with the Delhi Police finding more concentrators stashed away in two top restaurants, Town Hall and Khan Chacha, both in the Capital’s Khan Market. What links the three restaurants is their owner, Navneet Kalra, who, police said, was “absconding”. DCP (South District) Atul Kumar Thakur said, “Navneet Kalra’s role is being verified. He will soon be called to join the investigation. At present, his phone is switched off and he is CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Oxygen concentrators are taken away following the raid on Khan Chacha at Khan Market on Friday. PTI
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