DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE TUESDAY, MAY 18, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 CENTRE, WEST BENGAL FACE OFF AGAIN: MINISTERS HAKIM, MUKHERJEE HELD CBI arrests four TMC leaders in Narada case; HC cancels their bail, slams Mamata’s dharna What CBI didn’t say: Adhikari sanction pending, not applied for Roy, both are now in BJP CM at CBI office for 6 hours; SG wants trial out of state; HC hearing tomorrow RAVIK BHATTACHARYA, SANTANU CHOWDHURY & ATRI MITRA KOLKATA, MAY 17 THE FACE-OFF between the Centre and the state in the wake of the election results deepened Monday with the CBI arresting twoministersintheWestBengal government and two other Trinamool Congress leaders in the five-year-old Narada sting operation case. They were granted interim BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY bail by the court of the Special CBI Judge (1) that was stayed by the Calcutta High Court which frowned on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s dharna at the CBI office earlier in the day. Transport and Housing Minister Firhad Hakim; Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee; MLA and former minister Madan Mitra and former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the CBIthismorning.Nosoonerwere they brought to the CBI office in CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 DEEPTIMAN TIWARY NEW DELHI, MAY 17 CM Mamata Banerjee leaving CBI office in Kolkata. Partha Paul THE CBI Monday arrested four TMCleaders,includingtwoministers in the newly former West Bengal government, in connection with the Narada sting operation case. The CBI said the four leaders — Ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra, Sovan Chatterjee — were arrested after Governor JagdeepDhankhargrantedsanction for prosecution this month. But what it left unsaid said a lot about the latest turn in the case. Leader of Opposition SuvenduAdhikari,whoswitchedsides from TMC to join BJP in the runuptothestateelections,isamong thoseagainstwhomprosecution sanction is still pending. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Tauktae rages past Maharashtra coast 20 dead as cylone destroys homes, uproots trees and electricity poles on its way to Gujarat EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, MAY 17 Less than one clotting event per mn Covishield doses: govt KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MAY 17 ALMOSTTWOmonthsafterseveral European countries temporarily paused the use of the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine afterreportsof rarebloodclots,the Health Ministry Monday said 26 potential thromboembolic events, or formation of clots in bloodvessels,hadbeenreported across the country following the administration of Covishield, as the vaccine is known in India. That works out to 0.61 cases per million doses, or a percentage of 0.000061. Noting that this was “minuscule”, the ministry said Covishield “continues to have a definite positive benefit-risk profile” with “tremendous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths” due to Covid-19. Incaseof Covaxin,itsaid,“nopotential thromboembolic events” were reported. “AEFI (Adverse Event FollowingImmunization)datain India showed that there is a very minuscule but definitive risk of thromboembolic events. The reporting rate of these events in India is around 0.61/million doses,whichismuchlowerthan the 4 cases/million reported by UKregulatorMedicalandHealth Regulatory Authority (MHRA). Germanyhasreported10events per million doses,” the Health Ministry said. Thromboembolic events CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR MUMBAI AND thecoastal beltof Maharashtra reeled under the impact of Cyclone Tauktae on Monday, with 12 people dead andover17injured asitmadeits way to landfall in Gujarat. More than 15,000 people were evacuated to safer areas. Rainandwindatover100km per hour raged through coastal areas, uprooting trees and electricitypoles.Twobargesbelonging to the state-run ONGC, deployed for offshore drilling in Bombay High, around 70 km southwest of Mumbai, got deanchored due to the rough sea conditions. In a massive operation, the Coast Guard and Navy rescued 60 men while 200 men werebelievedtobestillonboard. Karnataka coastal areas, which also fell in the way of the cyclone, saw eight deaths, officials said on Monday. The worst-hit district in Maharashtra was Raigad where, as per data compiled till the evening, four people had died and8,383peopleevacuated.The district administration said at least5,244houseswerepartially damaged and nine destroyed. According to Raigad District Collector Nidhi Chaudhari, Nita THERESERVEBankof India(RBI) on Monday said the resurgence of Covid has dented but not debilitatedeconomicactivityinthe first half of the first quarter of 2021-22. Althoughstillextremelytentative, the overall assessment is thatthelossof momentumisnot as severe as it was at this time a year ago, the central bank said in its ‘State of the Economy’ report. “The impact of the second waveontherealeconomyseems to be limited so far in comparison with the first wave,” the RBI KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MAY 17 INDIA ON Monday dropped convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) from its national clinical management protocol for Covid-19. The therapy uses blood plasma from people who have recovered from Covid-19 to help others recover. The decision by the AIIMSICMR Covid-19 National Task ForceandtheHealthMinistryindicatesthatconvalescentplasma offers no therapeutic benefits in patients admitted to hospital with the disease. It comes three days after findings of the RECOVERY trial, the largest randomised trial to reportresultsof theeffectof convalescent plasma in patients hospitalisedwithCovid-19,were published in The Lancet medical journal. The study findings showed that compared with usual care alone, high-titre convalescent plasma did not reduce 28-day mortality. “In patients hospi- SOFI AHSAN NEW DELHI, MAY 17 The BKC vaccination centre in Mumbai was damaged as heavy winds from cyclone Tauktae lashed the city Monday. Pradip Das Naik and Sunanda Gharat, who had taken shelter near a temple, diedatUran,whileRamaKatkari (80) in Pen and Ramesh Sable at Roha were crushed when trees fell. Ratnagiri saw death of two from electrocution. Over 1,000 structures were partially dam- aged in the district, with 4,563 people evacuated. In Palghar district, one persondiedatWalivafterabrickfell on him, while a rickshaw driver died at Pelhar coming under a tree,saidCollectorManikGursal. The administration moved 150 people to safety. Sindhudurgdistrict,adjoining Goa, was also affected, with one death, of a fisherman. The other three out on a boat with him are missing still. District Collector K Manjulekshmisaid2,100houses weredamagedandpowersupply to many places was cut off, including to Covid centres. THE WORLD Demand shock due to reduced mobility, less spending: Report MUMBAI, MAY 17 India drops plasma therapy from Covid treatment protocol talised with Covid-19, high-titre convalescent plasmadid notimprove survival or other prespecified clinical outcomes,” the researchers said. Similar studies in China and theNetherlands havepreviously documented no significant benefit of CPT in improving clinical outcomes in hospitalised Covid19 patients. Plasmaistheclearliquidportionof thebloodthatremainsafter red and white blood cells, platelets,andothercellularcomponentshavebeentakenfromit. Convalescent plasma extracted fromthebloodof patientsrecovering from an infection is a source of antibodies against the infection. India’s clinical management protocol had so far recommended off-label use of convalescent plasma when two specific criteria were met: early moderate disease, preferably CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CO-WIN IN HINDI, 14 LANGUAGES BY NEXT WEEK PAGE 5 Whitewashed inquiry, have lost confidence: HC slams Delhi Police on ‘hoarding’ probe Impact of 2nd wave on economy not as severe as first, says RBI EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE RESEARCH SHOWED NO BENEFITS said. Evidently, the localised nature of lockdowns, better adaptation of people to work-fromhome protocols, online delivery models, e-commerceand digital payments, were at work, the report said. TheRBIsaidrealeconomyindicators moderated in April and May 2021, as many states imposed restrictions to arrest the renewed surge in infections. “The second wave has intensified in metros/cities, and relative to the first wave, it has spread rapidly across states, regions, and into rural pockets. Google mobility indicators exhibited a dip across all major cities in April and May as com- pared to the baseline,” it said. The Apple mobility index also corroborated this declining mobility across cities. “Real economy indicators moderated through April-May 2021.The biggest toll of the second wave is in terms of a demand shock — loss of mobility, discretionary spending and employment, besides inventory accumulation — while the aggregatesupplyislessimpacted,”the RBI said. On May 5, the RBI had unveiled a set of measures as part of a financial safety net for the economy. On the global front, the RBI said, a strong bounceback in the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Thane District Collector Rajesh Narvekar reported three deaths. “In Navi Mumbai, an electric pole fell on a biker. At Ulhasnagar, a tree fell on two passengers in a rickshaw, killing one and injuring another, while at Mira Bhayander, one woman CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 LUCKNOW, MAY 17 PAGE 12 THE EDITORIAL PAGE VIRUSINTHE VILLAGE BY K SRINATH REDDY PAGE 8 hoarded by these few people for politicalgains?Takeresponsibility,” the court told the police. The court directed the police to investigate how Covid-19 drugs,whichwerein“suchgreat shortsupplyandwerebeingsold in black market”, were procured in such large numbers by a few persons. The court said that it expected these people to surrender the medicines to Delhi’s Director General of Health CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Medical system in UP small cities, villages ‘Ram bharose’, says HC ASAD REHMAN NO IMMEDIATE CALL FOR MIDEAST TRUCE, SIGNALS BLINKEN FREE AT LAST: UK REOPENS FOR BUSINESS DELHI High Court on Monday pulleduptheDelhiPoliceforthe “vague and whitewashed” inquiry into the allegations of hoarding of Covid-19 medicines bypoliticiansandsaidithad“lost confidence” after going through thestatusreportplacedbeforeit. The court said it appeared that the police were not interested in bringing out the truth. “Just because some political figures are involved is no reason not to investigate,” a division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said. “Howmanypeoplehavedied because of lack of these medicines just because they were Probe against Gambhir, others THE ALLAHABAD High Court Monday observed that the “entire medical system” of Uttar Pradesh “pertaining to the smaller cities and villages can only be taken to be like a famous Hindi saying, Ram Bharose (at the mercy of God)”. The court made the observationoverthematterof a64-yearoldpatient,SantoshKumar,who was reported “missing” from Meerut DistrictHospitalonApril 21 by relatives as his body was disposed of by authorities as unidentified. A report was submitted to the court by the government on an inquiry made by a three-member team. Duringthehearing,overaPIL on the Covid situation in Uttar Pradesh, the court took into account submissions by the government over health infrastructure in districts, remarking that these were inadequate, and warned of a third wave. The Bench of Justices Siddhartha VarmaandAjitKumaralsoasked why the government was not making vaccines onalargescale. Speaking to a group of reporters on Sunday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said the situation in Uttar IF I SPEAK UP, I’LL FACE SEDITION CHARGE: BJP MLA P6 Pradeshwasnot“outof control”, and that UP was prepared for a third wave if it comes. He also spokeaboutdispatchingtestkits and medical kits to villages, training personnel, and transparency in testing and deaths, and claimed that the state had adequate infrastructure, well prepared to fight off the pandemic. The court had earlier sought a report in the case of Kumar. As the facts were placed before it Monday,thecourtcalleditacase of “high degree carelessness”.“... if the doctors and paramedical staff adoptsuch casual approach and show carelessness in the performance of their duty, then it is... something like playing CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PMO watching, Covid command centre tracks easing in Varanasi DIPANKAR GHOSE VARANASI, MAY 17 SAGAR CHOUDHARY watched the fire burn at the Harish Chandra Ghat of Varanasi. Around him were five bodies. Three burning on metal stands, another on the ghats, and one wrapped in a saffron cloth. Choudhary is a Dom, and has helped people conduct last rites for two decades. But he says he cannot forget what he saw 10 days ago. “There were 60 bodies, taking up every inch of space. We say that Harish Chandra Ghat is the most revered in the COVID IN THE COUNTRYSIDE UTTAR PRADESH AN EXPRESS SERIES PART-9 country, that those who depart from here attain salvation. That day, even the last rites could not be completed,” he said. Thefalloutof thatAprilweek, when the waiting time for a cre- VARANASI Lucknow ACTIVE CASES 11,562 7,162 APRIL15 MAY15 mation stretched to seven hours amid a shortage of wood, is visible. On Saturday, a former garbagedumpwasbeingusedas a registration site for Covid bodies.Withallegationsof profiteer- ing, there are now big signposts with prices listed: Rs 5,000 for a non-Covid cremation, Rs 7,000 for a Covid cremation, Rs 500 for the electric crematorium. And two ghats have become four. But what really makes the Prime Minister's constituency stand apart from other districts in Uttar Pradesh, where functional infrastructure remains a challenge, is the one-of-its-kind Covid Integrated Command and Control Centre, just 3 km from the ghats. The wall-to-wall digital dashboard has the imprint of technology all over. This, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj The command centre, with a wall-to-wall digital dashboard, has 355 people working in shifts. Praveen Khanna Sharma said, is from where Varanasi has been dealing with the Covid crisis, which is beginning to see the shoots of recovery or at least an easing from the last ten days of April. “I spend four to five hours in a day here now but when there was an oxygen crisis, we used to sit here till 2 am. There used to be panic calls from hospitals,” saidSharma,whoishelmingthe war room. “Our peak was April 14 to April 23.” Official figures show that in the second wave, active cases peakedat17,321onApril25,new cases at 2,796 on April 24 and deaths at 19 on April 26. This markedasteeprisefromthefirst wavelastyear,whenactivecases had peaked at 2,355 on August 14,newcasesat301onAugust9, and deaths at seven on July 30. The figures also show the dip this month. On May 15, the daily new cases stood at 466, active cases at 7,162 and deaths at 798. Just a month ago, on April 15, daily new cases were 1,859, activecases11,562anddeaths492. Data from the war room shows that the number of helpline calls received had hit a high of 853 on April 22. Outside the Command Centre building, which was built CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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